Procore poll finds WH&S remains top priority in construction

Despite mental health concerns, Australian construction companies continue to improve Work Health and Safety (WH&S) outcomes with data, according to a new Procore poll.

Procore Technologies, a global provider of construction management software, today released new industry research coinciding with National Safe Work Month, revealing over half (52%) of Australian construction leaders report losing skilled workers due to higher levels of stress and burnout. Still, WH&S remains a top priority and the industry has increased investment in technology and data to reduce risk and improve safety outcomes.

Conducted in September 2022 by ACA Research, the survey of 155 construction leaders across Australia found that WH&S is a higher priority (46%) than sustainability goals such as reducing energy consumption (40%) and diversity & inclusion goals (25%). This is reflected in an increase in the number of construction businesses with a WH&S policy, rising from 71% when Procore last surveyed the industry on safety in 2021, to 77% in 2022.

Tom Karemacher, Vice President, APAC, Procore comments, “The construction industry has faced a multitude of challenges in the last couple of years, and nevertheless remains resilient and resourceful. With the labour shortage currently impacting the industry, it’s great to see companies prioritising worker health and safety while utilising technology to support workers by reducing risk and improving safety in the workplace.”

Skills shortage, stress and burnout impacting the construction industry

Shortly after the release of the National Skills Commission’s 2022 Skills Priority List revealing construction managers are the fourth highest skill set in demand, with 4,984 vacancies across Australia, just under half (48%) the respondents to Procore’s poll admit they can’t hire enough skilled labour to fully staff their jobsites.

Over half (52%) of the respondents agreed the industry needs to improve the way injured workers are supported with their mental health.

Fortunately, over the past 12 months the industry has adopted more mental health related policies. Approximately half (54%) of construction businesses state they have invested in more mental health resources to support staff.

A total of 54% of respondents now have a mental health strategy, up from 36% in 2021; 47% of respondents now have a stress and burnout management strategy, up from 34% in 2021; and 41% of respondents now have a working time reduction policy, up from 28% in 2021.

Leveraging tech and data to improve safety 

The Australian construction industry is continuing to turn to technology-based solutions to improve safety and supplement existing approaches, such as site inductions and training. In the past year, there has been a significant increase in how construction companies leverage technology and analyse data to identify and predict potential risks. The wave of digitisation that was prevalent throughout the pandemic is likely to have caused this spike.

A total of 34% of respondents say they have a dedicated solution to manage safety, up from 24% in 2021; 51% are investing in improved systems and processes to capture site safety data, up from 29% in 2021; 47% are investing in the integration of data from multiple systems/sources into a single repository, up from 22% in 2021; and 63% of construction businesses are now analysing data to identify and predict potential risks, up from 30% in 2021.

Following this increased investment in systems and processes, the survey found that more than half of the Australian construction ­businesses surveyed have experienced improved safety outcomes (53%) and reduced risk (50%) as a result of leveraging data. Larger businesses (with 100+ employees) achieved a greater impact from utilising their data, with 82% experiencing improved safety outcomes and 74% experiencing reduced risk.­­­­

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