Safety and Compliance Made Simple
September 28, 2013
September 28, 2013
What got us so focused on bringing value to steel toe sectors such as construction, electrical & transportation engineering? A couple of years back, I had lunch with a local general contractor in Ottawa.
We were exploring how smartphones could be used effectively on a jobsite. A few ideas came up quickly, but were faced with two big hurdles: integration, form factor, and history.
Integration with current business processes is a big challenge. Most large contractors use software through most phases of construction: estimating, bidding, project management, financial systems, etc. Defining a mobile extension for these programs is certainly do-able and well within the scope of work that we are able to handle. But they are not the “quick win” small and medium businesses are willing to sign on to.
The form factor issue was best described by another friend, an electrical contractor, who was with us at lunch. He said “I need to see a lot of areas; I can’t be restricted to a 3 inch x 4 inch screen. Someone tried last year to get me to look at tablet computers. But I gotta tell you, I’ve never seen anyone ever wear a tablet computer on his workbelt at the top of an 18-foot ladder.”
History runs deep in the construction industry. Many people learn trades through an apprenticeship model, and adopt business practices that their mentors were using years ago. Old practices die hard.
However, we finally got to discussing safety inspections. My friend told me “What keeps me awake at night is the worry that someone might get killed or badly injured on one of my job sites.” He continued: “Someone, not even one of my employees, got injured on one of my sites last year, and because I can’t PROVE that I did everything in my power to avoid a safety incident, my Worker Safety Insurance premiums will go up substantially for the next three years. I figure that injury will cost me a quarter million dollars. In real, measurable money.”
This was the basis of the Prevention Forms product that we introduced to general contractors and trades. In addition to addressing a quantifiable business problem for him, it is able to overcome his defined hurdles: it runs in the cloud and does not need to be integrated with other in-house systems; it is well suited for a smartphone screen, since most of the application is questionaire-based; and it is sufficiently simple to use – most of it is a “one button click” – that my client is going to outfit all his supervisors with smartphones just for this application.
He saw immediately that he will benefit from improvements in compliance, accuracy, timeliness, and auditability.