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How Social Distancing Works on a Construction Site


In highly-collaborative professions such as construction, social distancing is disrupting how things have always been done. One construction worker in Salt Lake City told NPR that social distancing in construction comes with a unique set of challenges. He shared an anecdote about recruiting several other workers to help him push a concrete machine. This is an example of how business as usual has to shift given the new normal. 

“They want us to maintain our six feet, not congregate in the break area,” he told NPR. “They have bottles of bleach that we can spray down our trucks before and after with clean rags. That was about as much as they can do.”

In the above example, the employer may believe “that’s all they can do,” but actually no — so much more can be done to social distance on the job with the right technology. How can construction projects maintain adequate productivity in the wake of COVID-19? Some answers include technology solutions such as video monitoring, automated access control, and remote collaboration tools.

Jobsite Video Monitoring

Video monitoring can be a quick fix for progress tracking and safety monitoring when in-person oversight isn’t possible. This technology gives you greater visibility into the type of work that’s being performed at any given moment, so you can ensure the right workers are doing the right things at the right time.

There are many affordable camera systems on the market today. Convenient features that are standard in most camera systems include power through a Cat5 cable, remote access, night vision, motion alerts, etc.

Features such as these help project managers, supervisors and safety managers monitor jobs from a distance — either from a trailer or even from home — and do their part to reduce the number of workers on a jobsite at any given time. 

Video monitoring is not only designed to increase worker accountability, but also provide an extra layer of jobsite security. With many projects reducing their on-site workforce, or putting jobs on hold indefinitely, construction sites are more vulnerable to break-ins than ever before. Video monitoring is an affordable way to protect jobsites from criminal behavior, and might be an especially valuable investment as job sites are vacant for the foreseeable future.

Automated Access Control

Take control of the jobsite with an access control system and complete labor management platform. Monitor worker ingress and egress as well as their credentials and receive immediate notifications remotely to help mitigate access issues. A labor management platform can utilize RFID badges to automatically restrict areas from anyone lacking proper training or documentation.

If you haven’t yet integrated a labor management platform — and are still reliant on hawk-eyed safety managers patrolling the jobsite — now is a great time to consider automating access control. 

Remote Collaboration

Trimble Connect dashboards

Project stakeholders — across all phases of the project — have deadlines and budgets that, if unmet, will affect future project success. No phase can work in a silo (even if they are working from home). Project data must flow from the home, to the office, to the field seamlessly to ensure optimal efficiency despite physical location. 

By using an online collaboration tool, your team can take control of project communication and the flow of information with the help of these key features:

  • Detailed task views: Collaborate with colleagues in great detail by visually communicating details or changes.

  • Activity feed: Monitor projects from home and chart progress against goals. Easily organize progress data by user, user group, data range, file type, and more.

  • Real-time notifications: Stay up-to-date on phase progress, worker productivity, or overall project developments.

  • File sync: Easily configure project files to synchronize between your local repository and a server in the cloud. This removes the need for manual file upload and download.

Combined, these tools and systems provide project managers with yet another practical solution for maintaining distance on the worksite through smarter scheduling. Astute project teams are staging projects to protect trade teams from other trades by carefully managing the location of work each day.

Given the climate of today’s safety concerns, it can be better to send a team home for the day when they complete their work in one zone — rather than have them move on and potentially come into contact with other teams on site. 

Video monitoring, automated jobsite access, and a connected worksite — while the future of social distancing is unclear, construction companies can take control of their present by thinking outside of the box and integrating innovative construction technologies into daily workflows.