Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making huge waves in the construction industry and is being used on job sites around the country in a variety of ways. Essentially AI is the term for when a machine or computer performs human-like cognitive functions – such as pattern recognition, problem solving, and learning. Because it’s machine-driven, it can take in a huge amount of data, giving us insight in a fraction of the time that we humans can.
More recently AI has been shifting from a focus on gathering data on what’s happening now to predicting what could happen in the future! You can probably imagine how this has the capability to affect job safety in a really huge way. According to OSHA, construction workers are killed on the job five times more often than other laborers, and AI has some promising capabilities to reduce that dramatically.
For example, AI is being used to evaluate sites to determine whether they are safe for workers in advance. With AI tools, we can now survey and gather information on a potential construction site so that managers can make important decisions and plans for a project.
Other AI programs determine whether worksites are currently practicing safety standards. One program has shown to learn from thousands of photos of ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ sites and can point out specific things that need to be improved to make them less hazardous.
Similarly, the Boston construction company Suffolk has partnered with SmartVid to create a video based program which gives the AI images and records on a current job site that can then be put into an algorithm that will warn supervisors of situations that could lead to an accident – such as a worker without gloves on or working close to dangerous machinery.
The company also says that they’ve used the algorithm to compute risk ratings or trends, which can be used in safety briefings on a job site when there’s warning of an elevated risk. Rankings like this can also be utilized to help assign priority to any safety issues. For example, construction managers could work closer with higher-risk teams and subcontractors based on ranking of risk scores that AI provides.
Because these learning algorithms generally require large amounts of data to improve the accuracy of their indications, Suffolk has invited other construction companies in their area to join a consortium that would share data to improve the technology. This way, every contributing job site has the potential to accuracy of the predictions.
Indeed, it’s shown that construction-trained AI solutions outperform consumer solutions and are only improving. San Rafael-based Autodesk developed an AI from their BIM platform which they named Construction IQ which has data from over 30,000 real construction projects. They’re striving for a high accuracy in their risk models, which is currently close to 85%!
Artificial Intelligence just might be just the answer to helping the industry become a much safer place to work! And while AI may replace some construction job duties, it also creating jobs for people who know how to use the data. If you’re looking to expand your staff or want tips to keep things safe for your next project, find your closest location on the Madden site here. We can help you find talented craftsmen to match your job opening and provide safety training for them too!