Construction Companies Can Do More to Improve Safety and Prevent Injuries and Deaths

GettyImages 886026522Verifying worker training is the next frontier in accident reduction. IDcard, QR code, and mobile technology make it work.

By David Finkelstein

About one in 10 construction-site workers are injured every year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This adds up to about 150,000 construction-site injuries annually, including nearly 1,000 deaths. 

Clearly, the industry has work to do. Companies have a moral obligation to do protect employees from injuries and death. And they must protect themselves from soaring workers’ comp premiums, delays, penalties and damage to their reputation caused by serious accidents.

Training workers to operate equipment and do hazardous jobs safely is the critical firststep. But it’s incomplete without the next logical step: having a simple, effective way to track and verify all worker training and OSHA certifications on the job site. 

Verifying each worker’s training credential can go a long way toward improved safety. The worker’s photo ID card can be enhanced to provide a fast, easy way to do just that. An ID card (or an enhanced wristband) tied into a training-records database can help

  • Ensure that each employee is appropriately trained for the work he or she is assigned
  • Ensure that each job is assigned to an employee who has the training required to do that job safely

How is this accomplished? The first building block is a having a database of training records. Construction companies already have this information, on paper or in an electronic format. The key is to consolidate the data in one accessible place — the cloud, where it’s always available to authorized parties. Existing training records stored in Excel sheets or other formats can be loaded into a cloud-based database. 

Next, a unique QR code is printed on each employee’s photo ID card. The code allows a device connected to the database to get immediate access to the employee’s training history. It also lets trainers easily record every training session and qualification the worker has completed. With a smartphone app, authorized trainers can automatically update records as workers complete courses. The trainer just scans the QR code on the ID card to update the employee’s training records, which are stored securely in the cloud. The app also can be used by foremen to track attendance at worksite meetings.

That’s the first half of the process – getting the data into the database and updating it. The second part is where the rubber meets the road: checking employee credentials before they do a job. When an employee is assigned a job, the supervisor scans the ID card with a smartphone or tablet. The device reads the QR code and connects to the database immediately. The employee’s current training records are then displayed on the screen, securely and reliably.

This saves supervisors time and encourages a safety culture. A major side-benefit is an early-warning system. When certifications are coming up for renewal, the system will send an alert that retraining needs to be scheduled. Credential verification is becoming a crucial tool in a construction company’s safety portfolio.

finkelstein davidDavid Finkelstein is president of Credential Verification Service (www.credentialverificationservice.com) in Rockville, Md., which serves construction companies of all types and size. CVS ID cards provide real-time validation of employee training records. He can be contacted at 301-637-4528 or dfinkelstein@instantcard.net.

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