Senior leaders at DPR have three criteria when vetting a new construction technology program: It must increase efficiency; create engagement at all levels of the company; and work well consistently across all of the firm’s 27 offices.
The Redwood, California, firm’s technology-based safety platform provider meets those standards so well that company executives have formalized their partnership. Last month, DPR signed an enterprise agreement with Australian-based software provider HammerTech that will standardize safety processes across all of the company’s projects throughout the U.S.
Used for years by safety managers in Australia and rolled out two years ago starting in DPR’s San Diego office, the cloud-based collaborative platform enables users to consolidate safety, quality and daily field management processes into one paperless, customized workflow that makes site operations and collaborations easy, organized and centralized, said Bradley Tabone, executive vice president for HammerTech North America.
The recordkeeping function of the system tracks safety incidents by compiling detailed information such as weather and location and who was onsite, Tabone said, adding that some clients have been able to negotiate less expensive insurance coverage because they use the system. HammerTech also allows companies to move away from paper-based safety reports and provides managers with customizable tracking of unsafe conditions before accidents occur, Tabone told Construction Dive.
This flexibility has allowed DPR managers to create targeted safety training programs by location and type of work. They designed a module to ensure that roofing contractors receive fall protection training but lifts that training requirement for workers who don’t deal with heights.
“It’s helping to make smart decisions, not a broad stroke approach to safety training,” Joe Garza, safety manager for DPR’s Central Region, told Construction Dive.
The system allows construction managers to set virtual “gates” that prohibit an action from occurring on a site until certain benchmarks, paperwork or conditions are met. These gates can be difficult or relatively easy to pass-through depending on the situation. In the two years that it's been in use at the San Diego office, it's helped to keep the injury rate to zero, according to Garza.
“You can do it throughout the process or at the end of a process or create a gate that’s so soft it’s really just an email notification that doesn’t actually hamper the construction process,” Garza said.
For example, the company has set up these types of checkpoints for the use of cranes, ensuring that concerns are addressed before work begins, including insurance, licensing, scheduling and training.
“Everything is vetted well before the crane sets up on the site,” Garza said. “Once the crane contractor shows up you know they’re 100% ready for work and absolutely have the right people along with them so that work can proceed."
Up and running
Of course, implementation of any technology only works if there is buy-in from trade partners. Garza said DPR is slowly rolling out phase one of the HammerTech program to its 50,000 subs, who can access it at no cost.
DPR employees have benefited from a comprehensive rollout as well, involving training for all departments including operations, risk, learning and development, and marketing and communications, he said. “Our goal was to make sure internal stakeholders and trade partners understood the system so we could get a high adoption rate from the beginning,” he said. “You’ve got to go slow to go fast.”
Because the platform tracks safety incidents, Garza said he foresees DPR project managers using it to help select the most qualified trade partners for a job. By measuring specific indicators it can weed out contractors that have a choppy safety record.
“It can tell us whether this is a partner that’s going to put us at risk,” he said. “If so, we’ll select Option B — a company that may cost more but that has the management practices in place that shows they’re willing to work the right way.”
Garza said the company’s employees are working toward complete adoption of the HammerTech platform, but that the rollout has not been without challenges.
“We created a team and a network to help with it, but everyone will tell you the first job where you use something new like this is tough, having to learn a new system with these new requirements and deadlines that you’re going to be held accountable to,” he said. “But this program makes sense — it really helps the team to make the right safety decisions at the right time.”