This week, Dodge Data and Analytics and CPWR hosted a webinar as part of an ongoing series to show how the COVID-19 pandemic is leading contractors to focus on safety management practices while maintaining commitment to training. The discussion, hosted by Donna Laquidara-Carr, insights research director for Dodge Data & Analytics, reviewed the findings of the collaborative report, Safety Management in the Construction Industry 2021. Additionally, she looked at trends in safety management programs and practices and implementation of wellness initiatives and new technologies in an industry adapting to the effects of COVID-19. Report findings are based on a survey of general and specialty trade contractors but also include case studies, sidebar articles on critical topics related to safety and interviews, according to Laquidara-Carr.

Report information was gathered  via an online survey from May 11–June 25, 2021, with 282 contractors participating, the majority being from Dodge Data and Analytics’ contractor panel. Those included 141 general contractors, constructions managers and design-builders, and 141 special trade contractors.

Laquidara-Carr’s presentation, highlighted the use of project/site related safety practices among large (100 or more employees), midsize (20 to 99 employees) and small (fewer than 20 employees) companies.

“There is a distinct pattern that large companies are doing most of [the project and site related safety practices] really quite frequently, and smaller companies are doing them less frequently,” she explained.

A way to think of this is not to say “smaller contractors should be doing more,” but to ask “what could the industry do to help small contractors do more,” because they may not have access to as many resources as larger companies, Laquidara-Carr suggested.

When reviewing the findings for the types of safety training being offered among those who responded, Laquidara-Carr saw positive numbers in common areas of the construction industry—including those involved with glass and glazing.

“The things that are offered most: fall protection and PPE equipment training, are also recognized pretty widely as ‘needed the most.’ So that’s great–there’s good industry alignment between what’s being offered and what’s needed. That was very satisfying,” she said.

Another finding was the implementation of online training in the industry.

“We asked: how frequently do you use online training? Nearly two-thirds, 63%, say that right now, they’re using online training. About one-third said they’re not.” Of the 63% that answered affirmatively, Laquidara-Carr said they were asked if they had increased the use of online training in the last 12 months, and 35% reported that they had done so. Of that 35%, 77% said COVID-19 influenced the increase in training. “Some of them said that [COVID] was the reason they increased or even introduced online training,” Laquidara-Carr emphasized.

She concluded her presentation saying that data-driven safety is still an emerging trend, but contractors are expecting to engage with many technologies that improve safety.