The construction industry is a vital part of Australia’s economy and society. It generates over $360 billion in revenue, fuels a vast supply chain, keeps over 1.15 million people employed, and shapes our built environment.
After major environmental events like bushfires and floods, this important industry is often called on to help rebuild communities, restoring quality of life in affected areas. In the wake of major crises like the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry has become an integral part of the country’s economic recovery effort.
Here are some ways for construction businesses to build the resilience this sector needs, so it can continue providing support after major events just like these.
Business continuity technology
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2020, it’s the incredible power of technology to transform business and to maintain operations during major, disruptive events. Here’s how investing in the right technologies can facilitate reduced or remote workforces, improve safety and project outcomes.
Automation technologies allow businesses to perform manual tasks, like operating equipment and even laying bricks, without setting foot on a construction site. The internet of things (IoT) is also fuelling growth and the increasing sophistication of automation technologies, like digital twins, driverless vehicles and construction robotics.
Drones are another valuable technology for building resilience in the construction sector. When workers are unable to get to site, drones can be used to perform a variety of tasks remotely, like site surveys; equipment inventory; monitoring project progress; spotting safety hazards; and even disinfecting large work areas.
Communication is an important success factor for any business. Digital collaboration software connects people and ideas, drives productivity and efficiency, and leverages the vast amounts of data that construction projects create. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies also have potential to boost productivity and improve safety and collaboration in construction, both during times of crisis and when businesses return to normal operation.
Future proofing the workforce
As the country’s third largest employer, a reduction in the construction industry workforce can have a significant impact on the Australian economy. Focusing on safety, employee wellness and return to work outcomes can help the construction industry workforce to better respond to major events.
A workforce fit for work
Focusing on wellness, particularly on stress reduction during times of uncertainty, is vitally important for maintaining a healthy, productive and resilient construction workforce. Positively addressing mental health can improve people’s problem solving and general cognitive function; improve people’s capacity to pay attention to tasks; and can have a positive flow-on effect to workplace safety. The World Health Organisation offers this guidance on creating mentally healthy workplaces.
Maintaining an adequate workforce
Work-related illness and injury costs the Australian economy roughly $61.8 billion each year, and has a significant productivity burden on high-risk industries like construction through employee downtime.
To maintain a workforce that is fit for work and that continues to meet industry demand, business must focus on keeping the construction workforce safe and back into work quickly and smoothly after injury and illness.
Safe Work Australia’s 2020-2030 Return To Work Strategy outlines five action areas that need to be addressed to improve return to work outcomes for employers and employees, such as helping workers be actively involved in their recovery and return to work.
Looking to the future
To build resilience, construction businesses also need a detailed understanding of the types of risks and threats the industry faces.
Ongoing and in-depth business risk assessments should examine all current and future physical and digital threats that could affect both the market and business operations. By using future-focused risk assessments to influence design construction projects too, this sector can help the built environment to better withstand future environmental events, and to accommodate new ways of working as different types of global threats emerge.
As Australia's largest equipment hire company, Coates has been in the industry for more than 135 years. For the assurance of working with a trusted and established equipment partner on your next project, reach out to Coates Hire today, or find your local branch.
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