White Card Issues: Is Technology a Help or Hindrance to Construction Safety?

A new generation of tradies have emerged who instead of shunning technology as an inconvenience or a hazard are embracing it. An article on HeraldSun.com.au explains how what they call “terds” (also known as tradie nerds) are now using technology as a valuable part of their jobs on construction sites, whereas in the past technology, such as mobile phones were thought of as more of a distraction on sites.

According to the article, 500 Aussies tradesmen were part of a survey which showed that many workers relied on their laptops, mobile phones and tablets to get their jobs done.

Tradies who run their own businesses in particular find technology invaluable in assisting them save time, by doing the administrative work during the day allowing them to save evenings to spend with their families.

Placing orders, sending out receipts, communicating with clients can all be done much more easily now, especially when part of tradies jobs involves moving from site to site, with no time actually spend in their office (if they have one). The survey found that tradesmen were using technology more and more to save time, money and reduce the need for paperwork.

Read some of the other benefits of technology according to the post on HeraldSun.com.au:

679936-tradesmanA survey of more than 500 Australian tradies, commissioned by tradesman supply retailer Totally Workwear, found half travelled to sites armed with laptops, while more than 40 per cent relied on smart-phones and tablet devices such as an iPad.


Sydney electrician Gareth Felton is among the new breed of tradies whose livelihoods depend on staying connected on the road. The 25-year-old runs the company’s diary, invoicing, quoting, job management and supply ordering via his iPad.


“It means that, when I get home at night, I don’t have to worry about anything – it’s all organised,” he said.


“I’ve got the master iPad and the boys have theirs in their vans, so I can be out on the road, a job will come in, I book it on the iPad and it instantly syncs whoever’s calendar I’ve assigned it to.”


Mr Felton said apprentices were entering the industry with tech skills unheard of a generation ago.


Electrical Trades Union secretary Steve Butler said tradies were increasingly using smart-phone and tablet apps for technical calculations such as working out current, voltage and resistance.


“It was only five or so years ago that these same electricians were using conversion tables, doing conversion in their head or using pen and paper. All that is changing,” he said.


Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/realestate/investing/technology-now-a-tool-of-the-trade-in-construction/story-fndcursx-1226579678745

Some of the other benefits include allowing workers to connect to the world and keep up to date with issues that concern them, such as keeping abreast of issues surrounding Australian standards and health and safety regulations.

It also allows tradies to keep in contact with the unions via social networks etc., providing the latest news and incident reports as well as other issues around safety.

However tradies should be aware of the risks of becoming distracted by technology such as mobile phones when engaged in a dangerous activity, so technology should be kept aside only to be used during breaks or before or after shifts.