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Construction is one of New Zealand’s biggest industries with almost 200,000 workers – but it is also one of the four sectors with the worst worker injury rates. Worker fatalities in construction are more than double the average for all other sectors and Worksafe New Zealand classes the sector as high-risk.

With an average of 10 fatal accidents per year, the construction sector recorded the second equal highest workplace fatalities by industry between 2011-2017. Along with forestry, construction was only beaten out by the agricultural sector. ACC pays more than $100 million dollars per year in the construction sector for workplace injuries. The stats are sobering and something needs to change.

With the construction industry’s commitment to worker safety and its dedication to a shared culture of care and concern, safety is top of mind for construction fleets across the country. Vehicle-related accidents (49 percent) were the main cause of fatalities – 70 percent of which occurred on worksites, and 21 percent of which were road traffic accidents.

The survey of workers and employers suggests a serious level of under-reporting for accidents. When asked how often hazards, near misses and accidents were reported to supervisors, only one out of five workers in the construction sector said they believed this happened “all the time”. Even more alarming, only 28 percent of employers said that serious harm incidents in their businesses had been reported to WorkSafe New Zealand.

The stats above are not meant to showcase a dismal view on the industry. Instead, they prompt discussion on the need to invest in new methods and technologies to reduce accidents, as construction is an inherently risky business. Many fleets are using telematics to improve safety – and here are three common ways they are doing so:

Tracking Assets

GPS fleet tracking tools provide insight into where every piece of equipment, asset or vehicle is located and useful information about they are being used, at what speed they’re traveling and any accidents that may occur. This information is relayed directly to managers, who are alerted if a vehicle is not where it should be at any given time – suggesting an employee may be in danger.

Training

It’s no easy task to operate on-road or off-road vehicles, but telematics can help. In-cab cameras capture and play back unsafe behaviour to aid with training programs. Real-time feeds allow managers to course-correct poor performance in real-time. Alerts are sent directly to the operator, delivering instant feedback which can be used to assist in the prevention of a future accident.

Maintenance

GPS fleet management solutions automate inspection forms for vehicles and alert managers when an asset may need repair. This saves fleets from costly and unexpected issues, and also protects workers and the public from faulty machinery.

Fleets don’t need to sacrifice productivity for safety – with telematics, they can improve both. Everyone in the industry should take the time to pause and consider how they can go above and beyond to protect the safety and wellbeing of their employees, customers and the public.

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James French is a Australasian Solutions Specialist, CE at Teletrac Navman.

James French is Australasian Solution Specialist for the construction industry at Teletrac Navman. James has worked for more than 20 years in the construction industry and shares his expert knowledge and passion for GPS asset tracking with construction businesses to fulfill their needs.