On-site contact tracing is still needed to retain construction workforce in the ongoing pandemic

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Solutions like BlueCats’ UWB wearable devices have enabled businesses to work productively thanks to COVID-19, as employers strive to create a safe workplace.

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As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic took hold in 2020, it was reported that an additional 50% of the U.S. workforce has shifted to working from home to enforce social distancing. However, the construction sector, seen as an essential service, has seen construction sites remain open and projects moving forward, even as the pandemic rages on. Yet despite this, even the construction sector did not come out unscathed, with real growth contractions in 2020 and a slow recovery in positive growth territory in 2021.

There are challenges for future growth including timelines, cost explosions and, of course, workforce availability, as the caution around social distancing remains high. In addition, there are new operational measures that will see both technical and administrative controls implemented to reduce the risk of a local coronavirus epidemic that could close an entire construction site.

Even after a full vaccine rollout, it will still be important to monitor and track cases to avoid future blockages. When workers are deemed “essential” they cannot stop working. Accordingly, the onus is on operating personnel and prime contractors to ensure the safety of their teams.

New jobsite-level information is critical to understanding who is on a jobsite and – if a team member or coworker is infected with COVID-19 – someone needs to do a contact tracing to find everyone. who have interacted or come in close contact with this person. Anyone falling into this category can test, isolate, and receive treatment without shutting down an entire job site.

Traditionally, contact tracing involved bringing in an outside entity such as a health service, a time consuming task. Now technology is making it more reliable, affordable and faster, while maintaining the confidentiality of an employee’s personal information.

The vaccine is a positive step, but more is needed

The vaccine is a positive development in the fight against COVID-19, but polls and anecdotal evidence suggest organizations cannot trust the belief that everyone will want or can receive a vaccine. Also, receiving the vaccine is no guarantee that they will not contract or transmit the virus.

Consider a recent Morning Consult survey of thousands of U.S. employees, which found that fewer than six in 10 adults (56%) employees said they would get vaccinated. The rate of workers willing to receive the vaccine ranged from less than half (47%) in the food and beverage industry to more than three-quarters (77%) in higher education. The same survey found that 53% of construction workers planned to receive the vaccine, which is lower than the overall average of employed adults.

According to ProBuilder, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission ruled that “employers could require workers to be vaccinated, with some exceptions.” But even companies that take advantage of the move and require vaccinations for their employees will likely have someone on their team who cannot receive the vaccine for a variety of reasons, including health issues and religious objections.

These facts show that employers need to take additional steps by considering a contact tracing system to track COVID-19 positive individuals in a workplace or construction site.

The way forward requires workable solutions

A year after the start of the pandemic, it is clear that the world will not remain in quarantine forever. Workplaces, especially construction sites, will play a central role in stopping the spread of the virus and helping the world return to “a sense of normalcy”.

Technology will help businesses overcome the devastating effects of the pandemic, and it is critical to organizational success in the face of new business realities. Today, several offerings on the market allow organizations to quickly deploy a solution to track team members who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

For example, BlueCats’ Contact Tracing (CTS) solution uses individual ultra-wideband (UWB) wearable devices called SafetyTags to enable closed organizations such as construction companies to streamline the process, making it reliable and affordable. . It enables businesses to work productively during COVID-19, as employers strive to create a safe workplace for vaccinated and unvaccinated employees and visitors.

Beyond the pandemic, solutions like BlueCats' UWB-based wearable devices can provide additional value for tracking assets and staff, downtime, and time spent on a tool.Beyond the pandemic, solutions such as BlueCats’ UWB-based wearable devices can provide additional value for tracking assets and personnel, downtime, and time spent on a tool.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that construction workers “inform workers of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality.” Further, it states that “Workers in close contact (within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more in a 24 hour period) with someone with COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exhibition ”.

While the need for contact tracing is urgent and most impactful during a pandemic, solutions such as BlueCats’ UWB-based wearable devices provide additional value for tracking assets and personnel, people down and time. spent on a tool.

Restore trust on the site

Based on advice from the country’s leading health experts, it seems likely that COVID-19 will be with the world for the foreseeable future, even with its influence reduced, so organizations should prepare. Uncertainty persists and it remains to be seen precisely how the pandemic will play out.

To compensate for these headwinds, construction companies need easy-to-use and reliable solutions. They need to allay workers’ fears so they can feel confident returning to the job sites and can focus on helping companies achieve their goals, rather than fears that their work will endanger their personal health.

While contact tracing requires a capital outlay and some operational changes, it can save businesses from being made worse by a possible virus outbreak on the jobsite and help them complete projects on time and on budget. .

Nate Dunn is CEO of BlueCats.

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