Occupational safety in the construction industry has taken a huge leap forward in development in 50 years and the speed of change is accelerating due to the development of technology and artificial intelligence. In the construction industry, occupational safety is taken extremely seriously.
In the 1970s, on average one person per week died in an occupational accident in Finland in the construction industry, which totals approximately 50 people in a year. We have not yet reached a situation without any sad news. In 2020, a total of seven employees lost their lives in occupational accidents in the construction industry, two of them in the infrastructure sector. However, the situation has changed drastically, even when compared to the last 10 years.
“During the last ten years, the member companies of the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT have halved their accident frequency rates,” says Kati Kaskiala, Industrial Policy Expert in INFRA ry’s Safety Committee.
In the construction industry, accidents are prevented by anticipating, planning and cooperating. The development of work machines, personal protective equipment and materials used on sites as well as the changed working methods and attitudes promote occupational safety and prevent accidents. Information about the risks, accidents that have occurred and lessons learned are shared on the sites, which makes everyone think and participate. Zero-accidents is always the target and it can be reached; several sites have proven that.
According to Jarkko Hyytiäinen from YIT, unnecessary risk-taking is no longer that common on the sites as employees’ views are considered already when planning the work phases and constantly during the project, for example, in the weekly safety briefings.
In order to improve safety, information is shared openly, also between different companies. For example, the member companies of INFRA ry’s Safety Committee operate in this way.
“Occupational safety issues are not regarded as business secrets or competitive factors, but we share knowledge between companies in order to develop the entire sector,” says Antti Mitrunen, Occupational Safety Manager, Infrastructure segment at YIT and vice chairman of INFRA ry’s Safety Committee.
Artificial intelligence also improves occupational safety
The digital leap of the construction industry has been huge during the past couple of years. Machine control, robotics and work machines already used on the sites represent advanced technologies, and the use of remote control, drones and 3D modelling is already becoming the new normal. Future site induction training may be implemented utilising a virtual helmet.
The development of technology and artificial intelligence will enhance occupational safety in the future. Artificial intelligence may help in routine work, such as refining and analysing accident-related statistics. Issues that would have otherwise been missed may arise. Although human intelligence will be part of occupational safety also in the future, this may change in terms, for example, of data analysis.
Smart clothes are also being developed for occupational safety purposes. The sensors in the smart clothes collect data and warn about dangerous situations, such as high levels of carbon monoxide or an approaching vehicle, or even human coping.
For further information, please contact
Antti Mitrunen, Occupational Safety Manager, YIT Infrastructure Projects, tel. +358 40 356 7157, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pirita Tiusanen, Communications Manager, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 44 240 9822, email@example.com
YIT is the largest Finnish and a significant North European urban developer and construction company. We create more sustainable, functional and attractive cities and living environments. We develop and build apartments, business premises and entire areas. We also specialise in demanding infrastructure construction. We own properties together with our partners, which supports the implementation of our significant development projects. We also provide our customers with services that increase the value of properties. We employ about 7,400 professionals in 10 countries: Finland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. In 2020, our revenue amounted to approximately EUR 3.1 billion. YIT Corporation's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy.