Top 10 Construction App Safety Tips

by JOHN WIEGAND, Autodesk

This article was originally published on November 3, 2015 by the BIM 360 Blog.

We can all agree – mobile technology is making the construction industry better everyday. Workflows and processes have been streamlined creating tangible and positive results in customer satisfaction, speed to market, and profitability.

However, as with any big transition, there are unexpected consequences and challenges to be aware of. When I speak with customers and colleagues, the same topic keeps popping up: Construction Site Safety.

It’s a common scenario: project team members charge into the field, armed with construction apps on mobile devices, ready to collect valuable data to improve the project. While this is a noble pursuit, the user can easily be distracted from the physical environment (and potential hazards) surrounding them. In hopes of combatting this, I’ve compiled 10 safety tips to consider before leading users into the field:

  1. Develop a site specific safety plans as each site has its own unique challenges and risks.
  2. Conduct a job hazard analysis and compile list of what users need to be aware of.
  3. Make tech easy to carry by providing backpacks, holsters or other hands free accessories.
  4. Provide high visibility clothing for user, possibly with unique identifying features.
  5. Plan a path of travel for the user, routing away from heavy equipment when possible.
  6. Eliminate debris within area of use (at least as much as possible).
  7. Prohibit use of mobile equipment on ladders.
  8. Require 100% tie-off in elevated positions.
  9. Encourage user feedback and incorporate viable points into current plans.

The above 9 points focus on safety of the construction app user, but #10 can make the whole site safer.

10. Train mobile tech users to collect site safety data, allowing supervisors to assess hazards and threats on a more proactive basis.

The risks aside, mobile tech on the construction site is here to stay. According to JBKnowledge’s Construction Technology Report, 72% of construction professionals surveyed indicated they relied on smartphones to do their job, with 50% citing tablet usage. These numbers held steady from year prior, so it doesn’t sound like anyone will be giving up their devices anytime soon. 

Fortunately, the expected rise of wearable tech and augmented reality should make data collection and other field operations safer and easier over time. After all, when it comes to safety, continuous improvement is the strategy, and the goal is to send folks home as healthy and happy as they came in. 

John Wiegand is a BIM 360 Integration Consultant for Autodesk. With more than 31 years of construction supervision experience, John joined Autodesk in 2015 to continue coaching and guiding the AEC industry in best practices.