Construction tunnel worker - WorkSafe

Future proofing UK business against further uncertainty

Like many other industries, construction has had to embrace digital transformation at a rapid pace through the global health pandemic.  What is different from other sectors however, is that this scramble to embrace technology is not just to keep our sector operational, it’s fundamentally to keep our workers safe.  

Construction has had to adapt in the face of the pandemic in a way like no other sector.  Workers haven’t been able to stay safe at home and work remotely.  To keep the industry ticking over they have had to show up on site regardless of the hidden dangers of a deadly virus. In April, a total of 2,434 construction sites were shut down due to coronavirus related issues.

Across the sector we have faced COVID outbreaks on site, site closures and a marked drop in productivity.  The Construction Product Association is predicting 2021 construction output to be 6.4% lower than pre COVID levels.  The health of our employees is our chief priority, but we also need to ensure our business remains viable to ensure our employees keep their jobs.  

The construction industry contributes £117 billion to the UK economy, which is 6% of the total economic output. There are 2.4 million jobs in the sector, which is 7% of the UK total. The industry as a whole has a responsibility to protect workers, ensure our sites run safely and productively, ensure jobs are not lost and we keep contributing to a struggling economy.  

Where other industries could digitally transform their operations by selling products or services online, this simply hasn’t been possible in construction.  While construction workers have been permitted to keep working through lockdown which is welcome, this has only been part of the solution for our business.  The other solution needed was about how to keep our workers safe with no specific workplace measures to protect them.

What we found was that expecting workers to socially distance 100 per cent of their working day was unrealistic, and PPE and signage was not enough to protect them from potential infection.  The use of PPE relies on an honour system, or just an assumption that workers will use it at all times, which is unrealistic.  Everyone is human, and everyone makes mistakes. 

The NHS track and trace system might be effective for tracking individuals after they have been in contact with an infected person, but this is too late for a construction site.  Once an infection breaks out on site, it is at risk of being spread and the site being shut down.  The construction industry needs to ensure that infections are tackled preventatively and swiftly to ensure there is no widespread infection and a project can keep operating. 

There are many ways to mitigate risk, but now our understanding of COVID-19 is more developed the construction industry needs to do more to eradicate that risk from the workplace. We have developed a social distancing system called WorkSafe that will help employers identify where and when workers are not socially distancing. The aim is to spot regular social distancing breaches, to better organise people flow and apply only the necessary health and safety precautions to specific areas. This will ensure drastically reduce social distancing breaches in the workplace, removing some of the risk from COVID-19.

Furlough payments from the government to the construction sector totalled £3.7 billion by September 2020.  When that scheme ends we will not be able to save every job. There will be tough choices and bumps in the road ahead, but the next six months will define if we can truly ‘build back better’. The contribution of this industry is invaluable to the future prosperity of the UK. 

Things are improving – the Building Safety Group has reported that there has been a decrease in COVID breaches, including social distancing in the past 6 months.  We’re not there yet but the industry is adapting better to the new normal and digital tools are helping.   

More needs to be done though.  The government and trade leaders should also be ensuring that the use of technology to make work sites safer is part of official safety guidelines. Ultimately putting employee safety first will also lead to better productivity and economic recovery.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we all need to be better prepared in the future. All companies going forwards will need a SARS risk management protocol at the heart of their business. And above all, we need to ensure we protect the health and safety of workers – now and into the future.

The nation’s recovery is being pinned on ‘levelling up’ and ‘building back better’. We must air on the side of caution when celebrating investment. It is not feasible to suggest rebuilding a nation with a workforce that is not being adequately protected. We cannot jeopardise worker safety for the sake of a rush to meet targets.

WorkSAFE Benefits

Key Benefits of WorkSafe

Key benefits of our WorkSafe system and its capabilities:

Increased workplace safety amidst COVID-19 and beyond.

Our actionable data is presented in real time, providing contact tracing, social distancing breach notification and instantly actionable infection control. If a worker tests positive for the virus, management are presented with a list of everyone who could be at risk, enabling them to take appropriate action and protect their workforce. This makes WorkSafe a powerful workplace solution during the current pandemic. Significantly, it also provides insight into where opportunities for enhanced workplace safety exist, making it an effective management tool beyond COVID-19. The WorkSafe user tags are discrete, smart and can be worn on lanyards, on a belt clip or in a pocket. It automatically detects unsafe work positioning and provides users with real-time alerts to reduce risk whilst also creating better work habits.

Most accurate workplace contact tracing solution on the market.  

WorkSafe is accurate to within 20cm and as experts in mass data handling, our data-driven contact tracing app provides an intuitive dashboard to identify and report on all interactions between issued tags or employees. The high performance of our WorkSafe system reduces managerial and human resource time significantly.  The accuracy of our system ensures our partners can be confident in their contact tracing solution, avoiding the use of unnecessarily restrictive measures.

Actionable insights into workplace management. 

The data we receive from connected devices provides valuable insights into concerns such as bottlenecks or choke points within the workplace. This means that safety efforts can be focussed where they are really necessary and you can adapt measures to suit the risk level presented, such as deep cleans and the introduction of one way systems.  These insights will help you to significantly reduce social distancing breaches, even those set under close working conditions.

Foster a social responsibility within your workplace.

WorkSafe allows the user to set zones of interest. In doing so, you can monitor social distancing breaches within perceived high risk areas such as cafeterias, corridors, tea rooms, smoking areas or meetings rooms. By issuing tags to employees or contractors you are raising awareness of your commitment to contact tracing and entrusting them with the tool to realise it, fostering an environment of social responsibility. Trials have shown issuing wearable contact tracing tags reduces social distancing breaches during peak contact times such as lunchtime and rest periods. It has been reported that by using wearable contact tracing tags, one company reduced their lunchtime contacts by 70%.

Ready to learn more? Email [email protected] to book a demo or request more information.

Covid Vaccine

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine the solution for business?

Vaccines are on the horizon but the roll out isn’t the straightforward solution businesses are hoping for. Even when the vaccine is available to the general working population, organisations will be unable to force employees to have the vaccine. Many will not be able to have the vaccine due to existing health or medical conditions. Even if our employees have the vaccine it is still thought that whilst it may protect them, they will still be able to transmit COVID to fellow unvaccinated employees. It is clear that going forward we need to ensure that sensible COVID measures are in place and that we future-proof our work spaces against similar outbreaks.

As attention starts to turn towards the inevitable return to office workspaces in the New Year many Finance, Banking and Consulting firms are considering wearables with instant infection control to manage the spread and ensure the saftey of their employees.

Wearables and Contactless Tech

Wearables have become an increasingly popular solution for helping businesses with their Environmental, Health and Safety concerns around COVID-19. Our WorkSafe solution does not rely on mobile phones or the individual employee needing to re-charge their batteries. They are a simple yet powerful tool to not only enforce social distancing but enable real time action on infection control when a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in the workforce.

Wearables also help businesses manage risk by putting the data right in their hands. By having employees simply slip on a small tag, business leaders receive data captured by these devices that map traffic flow identifying bottlenecks, choke points and areas of high risk. In doing so, employers can take the necessary steps to limit traffic or modify their cleaning procedures in real-time. This is key to keeping work environments as safe as possible for employees as businesses re-open. Importantly our solution can be tailored to suit individual business needs and tag data can be set to be anonymous to business leaders with only essential HR staff able to access personal details, thereby protecting employee privacy.

WorkSafe Dashboard with Demo Data

Undoubtedly concerns around returning to workspaces and office environments are high but WorkSafe can help businesses identify and action better procedures that will ensure employees feel more at ease. Our system is accurate to within 20cm and our expertise in mass data handling means we can present the critical information in real time with simplistic reporting to avoid distraction or disruption to your managers. If you are interested in protecting your workspaces from further infectious disease disruption and safeguarding the wellbeing of your employees contact us here for a product demonstration or to find out more HERE.

factory warehouse workers wearing face mask scanning barcode

Government consensus statement on reducing the COVID-19 risks for workers

In a joint statement from Public Health England, Health and Safety Executive and Faculty of Occupational Medicine, we have been updated on the best approach to reduce COVID-19 risk for workers.

The statement recommends implementing and reinforcing existing environmental health and safety policies, government and specific industry guidance, workplace procedures and systems which help mitigate the risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) for all workers.

It’s clear that we have to take a more proactive approach to our workplace risk management strategies and the guidance within the statement goes on to urge us to consider actions targeting the entire workforce rather than those solely targeted at ethnic minority groups as this may help reduce the risk of stigmatisation and opportunity for inequalities at work.

It’s important to acknowledge that some staff may be at greater risk of infection or more severe illness from COVID-19 due to factors such as age, sex, deprivation, obesity or diabetes and the statement recommends that individual discussions, where appropriate, should take place as part of a wider workplace risk management strategy.

PHE regional Director Professor Kevin Fenton said:

“We know that some workplace settings can be a risk for transmitting COVID-19 and comprehensive guidance for a wide range of sectors is available. PHE has worked with the HSE and FOM on a consensus statement that stresses the importance of implementing effective risk management strategies in the workplace for all workers, which will help keep people safe at work and reduce the spread of the virus.”

WorkSafe can ensure you take the most proactive approach to COVID-19 management within the workplace. Our systems allow organisations to tag and trace employees on a work site or in the workplace to within 20cm. The WorkSafe system can ensure you:

·       Enforce social distancing regulations

·       Minimise worker congregation

·       Administer hand washing protocols

·       Action infection control instantly

·       Maintain contractor compliance

All of which keep teams working safely and your site open with minimal impact to operations. To find our more or for a short demonstration from the team please CONTACT US

View the full CONSENSUS STATEMENT

Construction Birdseye SMALL

Why not every business is affected by Coronavirus…

Coronavirus affects everyone. In the midst of a second lockdown, months away from a vaccine which may or may not work, every part of the economy is affected in some way or another.

With that being said, some industries are more affected than others. This article will take a look at some of the areas of the economy most affected by Covid-19.

Sectors affected most economically

The nature of coronavirus spreading amongst people means large amounts of physical activity between people has been stopped. The sectors hit hardest by lockdown, travel restrictions and limited consumer appetite include:

  • Hospitality
  • Retail outlets and stores
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Transport

Other sectors hit with the economic costs of coronavirus include things such as oil rigs and offshore sites, in which one infection brings the whole site grounding to a halt.

Most at risk

Some sectors of the economy have not been hit as hard as the ones mentioned above. Or if they have, they are recovering more quickly and less affected by the government’s second lockdown. This includes the construction and manufacturing sectors, which saw major closures in April but not in November. However, with this comes another type of risk, the risk of exposure to coronavirus. Alongside essential workers, sectors like the construction and manufacturing sectors put workers at a greater risk of coronavirus than those in full lockdown or working from home. These sectors include:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Construction 
  • Manufacturing

Overcome the challenges of Coronavirus with WorkSafe

To overcome the economic and health challenges of coronavirus, WorkSafe has been designed to allow teams to accurately understand location data, evidence good site procedures, and track the spread of coronavirus in real time.

WorkSafe delivers anti-Covid digital technology that allows companies to tag and trace employees on a work site or in the workplace to within 20cm. The WorkSafe system can ensure businesses can:

·     Enforce social distancing regulations

·     Minimise worker congregation

·     Administer hand washing protocols

·     Action infection control instantly

·     Maintain contractor compliance

All of which keep teams working safely and sites open with minimal impact to operations, saving the organisation from expensive site closures, paused operations, mass professional cleaning charges and drastically reduced team output.

WorkSafe was born from leading industry experts in mass data handling and tracking solutions. To allow your business to WorkSAFE and WorkON.

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How can you can protect workers from coronavirus

Not everyone can work from home. The latest figures show that while around half of people do some work from home, the other half are in occupations which cannot be carried out at home. While the office commute is likely to never return exactly how it used to be, the majority of people want to return to the office at some point.

However, coronavirus is not showing signs of going away. The second full lockdown seen in November may well continue through to December and into 2021. We do not know when a vaccine will be ready, and there are serious doubts about how effective any vaccine will prove to be.

It is clear that society is going to be dealing with coronavirus for a long time, and needs effective tools to be able to manage its spread and protect workers whilst allowing businesses to thrive.

So, how can we protect workers from coronavirus?

PPE

PPE helps stop the spread of coronavirus by reducing the risk of the infection spreading between people.

However, while good at reducing the spread of the virus, it requires correct usage at all times and does not allow businesses to understand who is more at risk than others.

Signage

Signage is a useful tool to remind workers of adhering to social distancing and other standard operating procedures, like exit only and entrance only areas, no congregation areas etc.

However, like with PPE it only reduces the risk of coronavirus spreading. This is important, but does not allow businesses to have a data driven approach. Moreover, it assumes team members read and care about signs.

Bluetooth to bluetooth technology

Bluetooth to bluetooth proximity technology is a type of track and trace technology, like the one used by the NHS. It uses the strength of bluetooth signal between phones to approximate when people have been within 2 metres of each other for longer than 15 minutes.

However, bluetooth to bluetooth technology is only accurate to within 2 metres. This means there is a large discrepancy between the validity of the data produced.

WorkSafe

Work Safe is an innovative new technology which delivers anti-Covid digital technology that allows companies to tag and trace employees on a work site or in the workplace to within 20cm. The WorkSafe system can ensure you:

·       Enforce social distancing regulations

·       Minimise worker congregation

·       Administer hand washing protocols

·       Action infection control instantly

·       Maintain contractor compliance

All of which keep teams working safely and your site open with minimal impact to operations. WorkSafe was born from leading industry experts in mass data handling and tracking solutions. They have the experience to keep your business moving forward through the pandemic. WorkSAFE WorkON.

African American building contractor talking to construction engineers while inspecting project development at construction site during coronavirus epidemic.

Why NHS track and trace can’t help businesses

NHS Track and Trace app

In April, the UK government outlined it’s plans for a nation wide test and trace system that would allow the NHS to identify individuals who were at risk of being infected by coronavirus.

The government declined to use Apple and Google’s help, opting to create a centralised NHS app that didn’t use existing infrastructure put in place by the tech giants. After 60,000 people on the Isle of Wight downloaded the app in a trial phase, it became a disastrous failure. By September, a new app came onto the scene, this time with Apple and Google’s help, to put a track and trace system in place.

What does the NHS contact tracing app do?

 

Once downloaded, the app keeps an anonymous log of contacts who have come within 2 metres of each other for 15 minutes or longer. The app can do this by using bluetooth signal strength between people’s phones to estimate the distance between them.

If someone tests positive for coronavirus, the app will use this data to find out who they have been in contact with. If the system deems someone as a close contact, they will be sent a notification asking them to self-isolate for two weeks.

Anyone who receives an alert, even if they don’t have symptoms or later receive a negative test result, must self-isolate for 14 days.

The NHS app also has a QR code scanner feature, which allows people to check in to venues. This will help track the possible spreading of the virus.

Why the app isn’t useful for businesses

While the NHS contact tracing app is effective at tracking large groups of people, it is not a good solution for businesses.

Firstly, the NHS contact tracing app is not highly accurate. The location signal is taken from someone’s phone, and has an accuracy of within 2 metres. This is also assuming that you are with your phone at all times, and not in a different location. These discrepancies have led to a high number of people being asked to self-isolate when they were at very low risk of being infected.

For businesses, these inaccuracies can be highly costly. Some are taking action, like this business in Hull which told workers to turn off their bluetooth, citing that the app could not detect protective measures put in place by the company and that it was inaccurately sending workers home. Workplaces need something more effective to understand exactly who workers have been in contact with and with what measures already in place.

Secondly, the NHS app can only identify what has happened after an infection has occurred. The app will contact people after someone has reported they are infected, but it doesn’t have the ability to determine when people are breaching social distancing rules. This is not preventative because businesses do not have access to the data and can therefore cannot gain insights to improve the safety of the workplace.

How WorkSafe can help businesses 

Work Safe is the newly designed track and trace technology platform that allows businesses to have a complete picture over the spread of coronavirus.

With site mapping, bluetooth to antenna technology and wearable locators, Work Safe will allow businesses to understand exactly who has come into contact within the given area. This will help stop the spread of coronavirus should someone become infected, whilst also being able to evidence good procedures like handwashing stations. The use of instant, real time data allows teams to make rapid and informed decisions in the event of an infection, which allows workers who are not at risk of infection able to continue working. This is vital for productivity and economic stability as businesses learn to adjust to operate safely during coronavirus.