Disrupting Construction: Jobsite Safety and Onboarding

07 May 2021

GoContractor CEO, John Naughton, recently sat down with Hugh Seaton of Constructed Futures to discuss construction jobsite safety and onboarding. Constructed Futures is a weekly podcast that drives conversations around the future of our built environment. Guests to the podcast include outside experts and seasoned leaders in construction, architecture and more.

In this article, we provide an excerpt from the interview, you can listen to the complete interview discussing construction jobsite safety and onboarding below:

Disrupting Construction: Jobsite Safety and Onboarding

Hugh: Let’s talk a little bit about construction jobsite safety in construction. Tell me what’s going on now and how your team is addressing it.

John: Safety is incredibly important in construction. A quarter of all workplace fatalities in the US in work settings happen in construction. So it’s clearly a big issue. There’s increasing safety requirements landing on the jobsite and on construction companies because of that. And so, the US in particular, is taking the lead from some other countries that are a little more advanced in terms of safety regulations, but catching up really quickly. What that means is bigger compliance overhead, and a burden on construction companies and really the requirement to prove what they’ve done and whether they’ve made sure their sites are safe and that every worker or visitor walking on to a construction site is doing so safely. 

Hugh: On your website, you guys mention something that I thought was interesting, and the first thing you talk about is onboarding. Given what you just said, that kinda implies that one piece of the issue out there is if it’s the same people on site day in day out, that’s fine, but that’s not what happens. You constantly have people coming and going, and at the end of the day, it’s the GC who is responsible for this. So what does that look like?

John: There’s a big turnover on the jobsite of workers, and whether that’s just two different trades being required at different times or subs sending different workers on different days, there’s a constant flow as you say of new people to the jobsite. So you are going to look at the industry being quite unsafe in terms of injuries and fatalities. Then you look at the fact that the highest risk period for a worker is when they first step on to that jobsite and the stats also show you the majority of construction accidents happen with workers that are in their first year of working in the industry. It all adds up; you really need to prepare workers for what to expect when walking on to each individual site.

Hugh: What sorts of things are you preparing them with? Are you preparing them with, let’s say I’m a pipe-fitter, and I come to a jobsite and I probably have been on jobsites so what sort of things are necessary?

John: We focus on the site orientation, and that’s regionally specific. It’s site orientation in the US, and if you’re in the UK site, it’s induction. It’s basically the same concept. It’s the obligation of the general contractor to deliver a site-specific safety orientation that alerts the worker to the dangers of that specific jobsite or the evacuation plan, various different elements of safety in relation to the site. What we’re able to do is if you take what you said there in terms of a trade worker walking on-site, you typically need to receive that information, get registered or on-boarded for that specific jobsite. That means handing over their ID, collecting their certs and their qualifications, and OSHA card. It’s a bunch of compliance information and then there’s the imparting of safety knowledge. At GoContractor, we aim to take all of that, move it off-site and move it online so that it can be consumed and completed ahead of time right before the workers shows up at the jobsite… effectively everyone’s pre-qualified before they show up at the gate at the job. 

Hugh: Yeah. You might hear, “Well, people show up in person and they have all that stuff. It all works out, I don’t see the need for all this.” but what really happens?

John: That’s a good question, ideally you can have a process set up so that it flows and follows the true traditional paper-based and in-person process. The reality is people show up at different times…so you might want to have a start time of 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. for your jobsite, but invariably people get delayed, show up at different times, and have to repeat that process or stop it and accommodate someone coming in, particularly if you’re delivering training, it’s probably got to be delivered several times. There’s a lot of administrative work that goes into onboarding new contractors and a lot of risk. Forgotten documentation, people showing up who may learn differently, and as a result, may not have a really high quality experience. That could be a real issue, for example, if you have workers showing up who speak different languages.

Hear the entire interview by listening to the podcast episode above.

Interested in learning more about construction jobsite safety and other industry topics? You can listen or subscribe to the Constructed Futures Podcast here.

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Sonya Sikra

Sonya is the Brand Strategy Manager at GoContractor. She specializes in communicating how implementing tech in construction can drive productivity and profit.

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