Start With A Good Catch: Scaling Up Safety

It's no secret that the construction industry is relatively high-risk compared to other sectors. Industry data shows that in 2022, construction had the third highest fatality rate (behind agriculture, forestry, and fishing & hunting).

The good news is that construction safety is improving. Since the advent of OSHA in the US, there has been a noticeable trend in creating safer workplaces and construction sites. Over the last three years, the industry has seen 4,500 fewer injuries and illnesses in construction and a 3.7% decrease in fatalities.  

The data is moving in the right direction. Still, when it comes to fatalities, even a single life lost is one too many.

That's why every construction leader and professional must prioritize jobsite safety and ensure that people go home as they arrived.

So, how do you go about this?

  • Start with the good - Build a culture of trust by sharing “good catches” on mobile or at toolbox talks.
  • Observe and resolve - Capture near misses, safety observations, or a real-time incident on the spot to monitor resolution.
  • Plan to prevent - Reduce unnecessary scheduling conflicts with the right people onsite with the right equipment at the right time.
  • Proactive measures - Coach your teams and enhance your safety programs with AI-driven, predictive safety insights to identify potential hazards or at-risk trades.

Now, let’s look at why this approach works.

There’s no single action that can solve construction safety problems

There's no single tactic for eliminating safety risks since every project is different. While most project processes are (or should be) standardized and repeatable, each jobsite has varying components, conditions, and challenges. 

As such, organizations need to take a comprehensive, holistic, and data-backed approach to their safety strategies. This systematic method of managing risk is referred to as a safety program.

In construction, best practices for safety programs include:

  • Positive feedback: Begining with small, repeatable safety wins, including “good catches”
  • Workflows and processes: Operations that minimize risks, enhance safety, and enable decisions to be made confidently
  • Training and certificates: Implementing learning and development initiatives that empower every team member to do their part in promoting safety.
  • Find and fix approach: A combination of recognizing and finding hazards, then fixing them before they become an incident, with a goal of continuous improvement.

When implemented well, safety programs reduce hazards on site, minimize your team's exposure to risk, and enable data-driven decision-making to improve how people work. 

How construction safety programs work

Preventing incidents due to safety hazards is built on a framework called the Hierarchy of Controls. Developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Hierarchy of Controls guides you through the most effective actions to manage exposures. It outlines five levels of measures for mitigating or eliminating risks.

These levels include the following and are arranged from most to least important:

Elimination is work done to remove the potential injury-causing hazard entirely. In construction sites, this could mean removing outdated electrical wiring systems prone to sparking and replacing them with newer, safer technologies.

Substitution is replacing a physical hazard with something less likely to cause injury. You can, for example, replace a ladder with scaffolding to provide a more stable and secure working platform.

Engineering controls are the last line of proactive action against hazards. They involve putting a physical barrier between the hazard and the crew—for example, a harness and tie-downs at heights without barriers.  

Administrative controls are the levers to pull when not actively engaging a hazard. For instance, you could shift rotations to limit the amount of time individuals spend in high-heat or high-noise environments.

PPE is the least effective but most commonly understood form of injury prevention. It can include hard hats, safety goggles, and steel-toe boots. By this point, you are relying on protection to reduce the chance of injury when meeting a hazard.

How Autodesk helps eliminate hazards before they become issues

Autodesk is committed to helping customers make earlier, safer, and more sustainable decisions. In the context of safety programs, we focus on delivering three things for our customers and the industry.

Design and construction. Improving jobsite safety starts well before teams make it to the construction site. Autodesk connects design and construction to help you solve problems before they start. With the global network of AECO customers and 200M+ users across our portfolio, Autodesk is considered the standard in the design space. 

Our technology helps you make smarter decisions earlier in the process, essentially empowering you to build your project before you build it, so there are no surprises (and fewer safety issues) later on. 

When it comes to the actual building phase, Autodesk Build enables all stakeholders to collaborate efficiently. Autodesk Build helps teams scale safety programs, from a few good catches to proactive risk analysis workflows.

Data accessibility. The best programs are backed by data. You can't make good (and safe) decisions if you don't have the right information. Since safety is everyone's responsibility, each team member—regardless of their role, skills, or training—must have easy access to the data they need. 

Autodesk makes this happen through our Common Data Environment (CDE), which keeps all the necessary project information and documents in one place. Whether it's safety checklists, on-site observations, or audit documents, teams can instantly access and utilize data to maintain high safety standards.

Additionally, Autodesk Build makes data gathering easy. Field teams can conduct observations, inspections, and audits with compliance-ready reports. Plus, we have robust issue management tools to record, track, and follow up on safety concerns, near misses, and good catches. 

You and your teams get real-time visibility on all things safety and gain an accurate view of a project's hazards and risks. This allows your teams to monitor potential issues and avoid incidents.

Standardization and predictability. Autodesk promotes repeatable, scalable, and predictable best practices while providing flexibility to iterate or innovate. Features like templates, along with several automation tools, allow users to streamline workflows, reduce errors, and ensure consistency across projects.

Autodesk customers have been using our desktop and cloud solutions to build their standards, which helps teams make better, more confident decisions to improve safety and, ultimately, their project outcomes.

The Autodesk promise

"When you've connected things in the cloud with intelligence behind the scenes, you can surface decisions very early in a process and identify the areas where just changing a particular decision in one small way can have a huge impact on your effectiveness."
Andrew Anagnost. President & CEO of Autodesk

When it comes to safety, we aim to empower construction professionals like you to:

  • Make confident decisions, earlier. With robust preconstruction solutions, teams can proactively address risks and streamline project planning.
  • Defend quality & safety. Whether doing inspections or communicating new protocols, Autodesk provides tools and support to uphold rigorous safety standards.
  • Implement more sustainable ways of working. Autodesk empowers your teams with data accessibility and other tools that ensure they can do their jobs safely. 

Final words

If you're looking to improve your safety program, make sure you implement it alongside technology that enhances visibility, streamlines workflows, and enables real-time decision-making.

Autodesk can help you do all that and more. By keeping your teams, data, and workflows connected, you can keep people out of harm’s way and ensure everybody goes home safely. Learn more.

Adam Arcus

Product Marketing Manager