As one of the world’s most dangerous industries, construction faces continual pressure to improve its safety posture. If the sector hopes to achieve that, it must overcome its historical reluctance to embrace new technologies. Data-driven construction safety enables the most effective changes.

While tech adoption in the industry is still low compared to other sectors, it’s rising. A stunning 91% of construction professionals report seeing others in the industry who previously didn’t use new technology on their projects starting to use it. As this trend continues, data-driven safety initiatives could become the norm, making it imperative to embrace them now.

Data-driven construction safety bases safety decision-making on insights from data analytics. On the technology side, that means implementing systems like Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, cloud software and artificial intelligence (AI) to gather and consolidate information from across your workflows. On the operational side, it means analyzing the data from these technologies as the foundation for any safety improvements.

Many construction firms already use data to some extent in their safety initiatives. That often takes the form of looking at past incident reports and industry trends to see where the biggest risks lie. To be truly data-driven, however, you must collect and look at a wider range of data and make it a more central part of your decision-making.

Despite improvements in safety technologies, the construction industry has experienced more than 72,000 workplace injuries every year in the past decade. Fatal injuries have even increased over time. It’s clear that conventional approaches have failed to make substantial improvements, so it’s time for a new strategy.


Advantages of data-driven construction safety

Embracing a data-driven approach to construction safety can help companies improve their safety posture where other methods have been unable to make progress. Here’s how.


Real-time hazard recognition

The ability to detect and respond to real-time hazards is one of the biggest advantages of data-driven construction safety. IoT technologies across the work site can alert employees to risks as they arise, enabling early responses to prevent injuries.

Some teams use wearables to collect worker health information like body temperatures and heart rates. When these devices detect that an employee is in danger of overexertion or exhaustion, they alert the worker and relevant managers. These real-time alerts let teams prevent accidents they may be unable to otherwise. 

Similarly, IoT sensors can alert workers when they near a ledge or get too close to heavy equipment. Without these data-driven notifications, it may be difficult to notice these hazards on a busy worksite, leading to avoidable accidents.


More relevant decision-making

Data-centric technologies can also inform better decisions for longer-term hazard prevention and mitigation. Making workplaces safer starts with an understanding of what its most prevalent dangers are. Firms often look to industry trends or past experiences for this insight, but each site requires a unique plan because each presents site-specific hazards.

A data-driven construction safety strategy uses technologies like the IoT and drones to gather information about site-specific hazards. In addition to providing more context around these risks, these technologies collect that information in less time. Consequently, you can review site-specific risks and make necessary adjustments without significant schedule disruption.

Over time, data from multiple projects will also reveal overall trends, like if certain hazards repeat themselves across all work sites. These trends will show firms when they may need larger organizational changes to improve their safety posture.



Just as every site poses unique safety challenges, hazards can change from one day to the next. Conventional approaches to worksite safety may struggle to account for these shifts, but data-driven strategies are more adaptable.

As the project continues, on-site IoT systems will gather more data about emerging or changing risks. Data analysis tools can then pull actionable insights from this information, showing you what to pay extra attention to as you work or what additional steps may be necessary. These ongoing reports let teams stay safe despite a shifting risk landscape.

These adaptations can apply to larger, longer-term trends, too. If you also gather and analyze data from other construction firms and related heavy industries, you could catch onto and adapt to changing safety needs in the industry as a whole.


Financial benefits

Protecting workers’ health and safety is the most important reason to become a data-driven organization. However, implementing these technologies and strategies also carries significant economic advantages, which may encourage more widespread adoption.

Workplace injuries cost employers more than $1 billion per week in direct workers’ compensation costs alone in 2018. By preventing accidents through data-driven decision-making and real-time alerts, construction firms will avoid these high expenses. Fewer accidents will also mean less unplanned downtime and lost productivity.

As more insurers recognize how data-driven business models reduce risk, these strategies could also reduce insurance premiums. The longer you use data-driven decision-making, the more hard data you’ll have on its results, helping you gain better insurance deals.


Best practices for data safety initiatives

The advantages of data-driven construction safety are immense, but becoming a data-centric organization isn’t always easy. Businesses that want to capitalize on these benefits should keep a few best practices in mind.

Limited short-term financial gain is the leading barrier to tech adoption in construction, as many of these technologies carry high upfront costs. Businesses can address this concern by starting small before slowly implementing more tech across a wider range of use cases. Begin with the area with the most room for improvement, then monitor the results to aid a faster return on investment with future tech implementation.

Silos and inefficiencies can also limit data analytics, so it’s important to avoid them. Use cloud platforms to create a single point of access for all relevant data. Firms should also use automated tools to clean, consolidate and record this information. These steps will make it easier to get the whole picture, informing more relevant, effective decisions.

Construction firms must also implement stronger cybersecurity controls as they collect more data. All employees should receive basic cybersecurity training, like how and why to use strong passwords and how to spot phishing emails. Continuous monitoring services and up-to-date anti-malware software are also crucial.


Data-driven construction safety is essential

The construction industry must become safer. To do that, businesses within the sector must embrace a data-driven business model. When safety managers base all decisions on up-to-date, relevant data, they can make the most effective changes.

Implementing data-driven construction safety may not be easy, but the advantages are impossible to ignore. If firms approach this shift with care, they can dramatically improve workplace safety and their bottom line.