Common Misconceptions About Digital Onboarding in the Construction Industry

09 September 2021

With such a high level of physical risk involved on any given construction project, it’s crucial that workers understand the hazards that they may come up against. Additionally, the increased need for social distancing since early 2020, has meant that a growing number of safety managers have found it incredibly challenging to onboard workers on-site. While many construction firms have moved away from in-person onboarding and training, and towards digital solutions, there are still some perceived barriers to digital onboarding in the construction industry. In this article, we’ll dive into these common misconceptions.

 

The importance of safety training as part of the onboarding process

Before you can allow contractors onto the site to begin work, they need to receive the appropriate information and training, particularly regarding safety conduct. Failure to do so can dramatically increase the risk of an accident or injury occurring. A study by Pinnacol Assurance found that approximately 50% of construction employees who have been injured on-site have been on the job for six months or less.  

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employees who face occupational hazards on job sites to receive comprehensive and appropriate safety training before starting work. This includes everything from emergency preparedness to personal protective equipment and should be included in the onboarding process. 

For decades, safety training for construction sites has generally been completed in-person and on-site. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way in which many construction processes take place, including the orientation of any new contractors and teams. Not only do safety managers have to worry about keeping team members safe, but they also have to mitigate the risks that exposure to illness can have on the success of each construction project. For example, a single worker exposed to COVID-19 could cause significant and costly scheduling delays that affect the outcome and potentially even the profitability of the build. However, digital onboarding can eliminate many of these headaches. 

 

What is digital onboarding?

Digital onboarding transforms the conventional onboarding process that takes place when inviting new contractors to work on a construction site. Rather than being performed in-person and on-site, workers are instead required to complete the process at home before showing up to the job site. This is completed using a digital platform such as GoContractor.com. Safety teams can work with GoContractor’s Customer Success team to upload videos, PowerPoints, and other essential safety and onboarding documents to the online platform. Workers and subcontractors are then able to login remotely, and complete all of their assigned tasks, such as uploading their OSHA card for example. When that worker arrives on-site, the Safety Manager will be able to see whether 100% of tasks have been completed and if the worker is cleared to be on-site. 

Digital onboarding standardizes site orientations and helps avoid project delays and risk. One of the key benefits is that safety teams can focus their efforts on doing site inspections and actively ensuring that workers are following safety guidelines, rather than spending valuable time completing administrative tasks.

 

Barriers to digital onboarding

No matter how fast technology is evolving, some safety managers remain hesitant about entrusting such an important process to a digital platform. There are several perceived barriers to digital onboarding. These include:

  1. A preference for in-person training. For many years, onboarding was always carried out both in-person and on site. Many people, including safety managers, are more comfortable carrying out training in-person, where they can directly see and interact with the individuals and teams that they are onboarding. While this is a valuable approach to life, it’s simply not the fastest and most productive way to onboard workers in a growing world of technology. In a world where we have seen a need for social distancing, it only adds to the value of using digital tools to avoid project delays and to help follow government guidelines. 
  1. Concerns over technical access and ability. Some safety managers and project owners suggest that not all workers have access to the necessary access to digital devices in order to perform digital onboarding. However,  78% of construction workers admit to using their smartphones during work hours, meaning that at least this percentage, if not more, do have access to a digital device to complete the onboarding process remotely. For any worker that presents this issue, a computer or internet connected device of any kind can be found on any job site, so this is no reasonable excuse.
  1. Fear of change. It can be hard to move away from long-standing conventional processes and embrace newer alternatives, particularly for highly experienced managers. After all, there is always a comfort with familiarity and routine. But can you name one piece of construction machinery that didn’t take some time to adjust to?

Why should you use GoContractor for your digital onboarding process?

GoContractor is a digital platform specifically designed to make onboarding workers in the construction industry easier, safer, faster and more compliant. 

Creation of safety questionnaires. GoContractor enables safety teams and managers to create custom safety questionnaires that ask the questions that are important to ensure the safety and security of your workforce and construction site. Workers can complete the questionnaires at a time and location that suits them, and all results are recorded for your personnel files. GoContractor will automatically notify administrators of the app (usually safety managers) if a contractor answers a question in an unexpected way, so that safety managers can take the appropriate action immediately. 

For example, many safety managers are using GoContractor to carry out pre-arrival COVID-19 screening assessments. If you have a worker who answers ‘yes’ to a question about being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or ‘yes’ to whether they have any symptoms of the virus, safety managers are notified immediately so that they can send the right workers home and contain the disease. 

 

Upload your onboarding documents. Every construction project is different, and this means that the safety training and other onboarding information also varies between work sites and staff. GoContractor enables safety managers to create a custom platform that is specific to both your construction company and each individual project. You can then assign the correct onboarding documentation to each worker based on their project and their specific role within it. 

Workers can complete their onboarding process online, at a time and location to suit them. You can even create language-specific onboarding so that every worker has the access to training that they need in order to be able to complete their job to the highest and safest standards. 

 

Safely store all documentation in one place. Keeping manual personnel files is every safety-manager’s biggest headache as information about training, experience and compliance can become difficult to organize and keep track of. GoContractor removes the time consuming task of organizing and filing paperwork by providing a single, centralized record of worker documents, all stored securely online and accessible from anywhere. You can even set alerts to let you know in advance when each contractor’s individual compliance is up, so that you can act promptly to revisit it and prevent potential project delays. 

 

In the age of technology, construction safety teams are finding new ways to keep workers safe, while making their day to day life easier. Find out today how GoContractor can help workers onsite quickly and offsite safely – schedule your free demonstration of this digital construction onboarding software today. 

 

Resources:

https://www.showhouse.co.uk/news/78-of-construction-workers-use-their-smartphone-at-work/

https://www.pinnacol.com/knowledge-center/safely-onboarding-new-employees-in-construction 

Show me more!

Take a look at how GOCONTRACTOR can save you thousands of hours