COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and meatpacking plants have made national headlines, but there are warning signs from academic studies and local public health data that the construction industry may also be a trouble spot.
According to a recent story in Construction Dive, construction is among the top two or three industries with the most COVID-19 outbreaks in Washington state, Michigan, Nashville, Tenn., and Utah. And in Texas, construction workers are five times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID complications when compared with other workers.
The industry publication pulled together a roundup of nearly two dozen COVID outbreaks on construction projects. It includes 70 cases at a Nashville private school construction site, 55 at a site on the Texas A&M University campus and 116 at a resort project in Montana.
The latest figures are red flags that the industry may need to do more to protect its workers and ensure that an outbreak doesn’t slow or halt progress on the job.
Many jobsites have already implemented safety measures to keep workers safe, including requiring face coverings, social distancing and daily health screenings of workers. But it’s easy to fall back into the regular rhythms of a workday — standing too close during a conversation or taking a lunch break side by side.
That’s why we released Proximity Trace, a wearable tool that prompts a visual and audible alarm when workers stand too close to each other. And, according to a study based on a small sample of jobsites with between 50 and 200 workers where Proximity Trace is deployed, it takes just weeks for users to gain big benefits.
Proximity Trace conditions workers to reduce their number of interactions each day. Fifteen days after the deployment of Proximity Trace, there was a 50% decrease in the number of daily worker interactions. By day 30, there was a 66% decrease.
It also helps cut down on the length of time workers spend with each other. By Day 20, there was a 50% decrease in the duration of their interactions with others. Twenty days later, the total duration decreased by 66%.
While it actively prevents workers from spending too much time together with its proximity alerting feature, Proximity Trace also collects data about the duration of worker interactions and who they spend time with. That’s valuable information to have in case somebody tests positive for COVID on a jobsite.
The insights make it easier for contact tracing to determine who the sick worker came in close contact with and potentially spread the coronavirus to. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts close contact with an infected person as a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
To use Proximity Trace, workers simply attach the solution’s primary device, the TraceTag, to their hardhat or coveralls. Gateways to collect the information gathered on the TraceTag are located at jobsite exits and other high traffic areas. It doesn’t rely on client WIFI or internet, which can be tricky to maintain on some jobsites, or use GPS or off-site location tracking. The Proximity Trace dashboard can also anonymize worker data to protect personal identifying information from all users except those authorized to analyze contact tracing reports.
As COVID cases rise across the country, shoring up safety protocols to keep workers healthy and on the job is more important than ever. Tools like Proximity Trace that encourage social distancing and streamline contact tracing can keep jobsites safer.
Ready to learn more? Ask us how Proximity Trace can help your jobsites stay safe and healthy.