Are Wearables Coming to the Construction Industry?


By Matt McKinnon

In the past few years, technology has dramatically changed the landscape of the construction industry.  The advent of smartphones, tablets and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots has improved the abilities of the deskless employee.  For the construction worker, these advances have transformed communication between crews and office staff; eased access to work orders and other documentation; digitized plans and blueprints; and improved project tracking and management. 

The use of wearable technology, or wearables, is on the rise in business.  Recently, this technology niche experienced a resurgence, with the introduction of the Apple Watch.  Those in construction have taken note and have begun using wearables to improve safety and efficiency.  Considering that construction is a dangerous occupation, the case for wearables in the industry makes perfect sense.  Efficiency improvements are always welcome by contractors, so long as the return on investment is present.

Safety Impact of Wearble Technology Use in the Construction Industry

Construction jobsite accidents account for almost 20% of U.S. work-related injuries and fatalities, based on statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Potential safety impact of wearables includes:

  • Reminders to wear proper personal protection equipment
  • Notification alerts to a crew when a jobsite becomes unsafe
  • Monitoring of workers – vital signs, headcount and location
  • Providing safety alarms and location-based alerts
  • Access restrictions

Increased Efficiency by Using Wearble Technology in the Construction Industry

Changeovers in technology within the construction industy must be supported by an adequate return on investment – in both time and money.  Given the conservative nature of the field, contractors are cautious about new methods unless efficiencies are gained.  Improvements gained from wearables include:

  • Remote access to project data
  • Improved communication of jobsite data while onsite
  • Real-time decision-making
  • Facilitation of precision for tasks – measuring, cutting or GPS coordination

Although the safety and efficiency benefits are apparent, wearables still have an upward battle for adoption by the construction industry.  As their business partners start adopting this niche, contractors will likely jump on board.  It’s only a matter of time before every jobsite is overflowing with technology!

Visit the Schneider Downs Our Thoughts On blog for more articles related to the construction industry and visit our Construction Services webpage to learn about our service offerings for the industry.

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