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Improving site safety with identity management

Simon MeyerWith an expected rise in the number of skilled construction migrant workers leading to an increasingly mobile workforce, Simon Meyer looks at how identity management and access management at an enterprise level can help to improve safety across all sites and enforce quality standards.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) migrant workers make up over 6% of the British construction workforce, rising to as much as 40% in cities such as London. From next year, work restrictions on certain EU countries will be lifted and it is likely an increasing number of skilled migrants will set to work within the industry, albeit with the proposed changes announced for the immigration bill. With the transient nature of this workforce moving between multiple construction sites, there is a growing need for robust identity and access management at an enterprise level across the UK to improve health and safety measures.

Collect workforce data effectively

The standardisation and integration of data from various locations minimises health and safety risks. By keeping track of key site and workforce data such as the right to work in the UK, penalty points or past health and safety incidents, site safety is boosted and the capacity for employee error or negligence is reduced.

There needs to be a consistent method to check construction workers’ identity and competency before allowing them access to sites, and in turn from site to site. That said, there are many challenges when collecting information, often aggravated by the use of paper-based systems, including the significant manual overhead. These can include ensuring data is secure, easily accessible from multiple sites and kept up to date to reflect changes in worker permissions.

HSE has also recorded an increase in the number of health and safety related prosecutions or enforcement notices issued in construction over the last six years. With robust access management measures now being put in place, organisations can simultaneously improve site safety and reduce expenditure associated with costly legal procedures.

Prioritise enterprise safety policy

There is a need for decision-makers in the construction sector to implement policy at an enterprise level as this will have almost immediate benefits across the whole of a business. Without an enterprise-level system to run this against, it can become increasingly difficult to manage policies and enforce them across multiple sites.

While the construction sector has been quick to implement hardware solutions, these are often combined with site-centric applications, creating health and safety implications and restricting visibility of associated reporting. For example, the fact that an employee has received multiple yellow cards across several different sites or has a history of accidents using a certain type of machinery may never be picked up at the site level, but is instantly flagged when considered at the enterprise level.

Deploy a simple, proven identification solution

In order for an organisation to deploy a robust solution that will work across multiple sites, a single, two-tier verification process is needed. There is no single credential needed for construction sites, although the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) smart card has gone some way towards this. CSCS provides people employed on construction sites with a portable means of identity and proof of competence to carry out their work on site. With almost 1.8 million cardholders in the UK, the scheme is already in use on many construction sites and recently includes online validation checks.

With the proper backing, a scheme such as CSCS combined with a robust biometric identification solution could improve standards and measurability of health and safety at construction sites across the UK. Construction-specific biometric technology, such as MSite, can accurately identify members of the workforce and manage their access rights and site activities in accordance with company policies and procedures. This can include details such as the level of access an individual has been granted at a site, ensuring the appropriate inductions and health and safety briefings have occurred and appropriate restriction of access applied. Examples include when the health and safety penalty points limit has been breached or an individual has not accessed a site for a defined period.

With an expected rise in the number of skilled construction migrant workers leading to an increasingly mobile workforce, the opportunity presents itself for organisations to look past individual manual, paper-based data entry systems and towards consistent company-wide reporting at the enterprise level. In addition to improving safety across all sites and enforcing quality standards, those firms using advanced identification solutions can help drive cost-savings and demonstrate greater levels of transparency or compliance as required by site inspectors.

{{cta(‘6cf96d47-5913-4b1d-b3f5-abc0fc8535b0′,’justifyright’)}} To learn more about MSite can help improve your site safety with identity and workforce management call us today on 0151 254 2888. 

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