- Four major contractors announced they are forming the “NEXT Coalition” to ensure contractors learn the best safety practices to better protect their crews and office teams during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The coalition, made up of Black & Veatch, DPR Construction, Haskell and McCarthy Building Cos., is looking to identify and bolster safety practices and technology to elevate the safety response to the pandemic.
- To achieve that goal, the coalition is inviting construction design companies, builders and developers to submit ideas to the Construction Safety Challenge website to aid with the rapid deployment of new solutions.
The Coalition said it is looking to partner with new startups and experienced companies to implement new health and safety products in the field and office, though submissions will need to be close to “market-ready.” Proof of concept or prototypes will be considered.
“This virus, and future pandemics won’t wait for us to catch up,” said Steve Edwards, CEO of Black & Veatch, in a press release. “The NEXT Coalition recognizes the opportunities that our companies’ collective scale and experience create to quickly begin sourcing, testing and launching solutions that can impact construction safety fast. To accomplish that goal, we needed to look outside of our own companies.”
The organizers are looking for ideas for safety compliance, screening of workers entering jobsites, tracking and tracing coronavirus outbreaks, incident tracking and data analytics. Technologies could be software solutions and hardware such as wearables or PPE.
The pandemic has many contractors looking to technology to keep jobsites open and workers safe. Multiple software companies have implemented new ways to ensure social distancing on jobsites — from cameras measuring the distance between workers to wearable Internet of Things (IoT) devices that can track the amount of workers in a given space.
Contractors are doing everything from taking temperatures of workers entering jobsites to having them take surveys to indicate their risk level. They even are posting thermal cameras at jobsite entrances to take facial temperature readings before employees come onto the project.
The landscape of the future is still uncertain, though some construction experts claim the tech necessary for social distancing is in fact the same tech needed to make a jobsite function on an accurate and efficient schedule. Solutions are still needed for construction more than most industries because of its continued status as an essential industry, as well as an inability to do construction work remotely, experts say.