Companies across industries are dealing with the juggling act of balancing the increased reliance on mobile technology and the added distraction the use of those devices often creates. In the construction industry, mobile device distraction causes significant annual claims and losses which can affect the entire value chain of the organization. According to a JBKnowledge 2019 report, more than 90 percent of the industry relies on smartphones to empower employees with tools for things such as workflow, project management. reporting, and capturing photos/videos of work. Add distractions from mobile devices to the equation and the opportunity for accidents, incidents and negative outcomes becomes significant.
Mobile Device Misuse
Let’s face it, the use of smartphones and tablets on the job may be the norm, but it does come with higher risks if those devices are used at the wrong time or place. In the construction industry, inappropriate mobile usage is leading to a significant number of yearly claims and losses, which can ultimately devalue an organization. Old Republic Contractors Insurance Group (ORCIG), a producer focusing on specialized insurance coverages and services for trade contractors and large construction projects, has seen the impact of rising injuries and claims in the construction industry in recent years. One of the biggest contributors is the risk and loss associated with work-related driving.
Insurance carriers, like ORCIG, are using data gleaned from safety tech solutions to advise their insured companies on best practices, safety, and ways to reduce loss exposure. The comparison of companies protected by driver distraction solutions versus those that are unprotected by these measures is significant.
Analyzing the Data
An ORCIG analysis of 4 years of customer data found that companies with a driver protection solution in place had 33 percent fewer accidents than those without any solutions. Fewer accidents translated into roughly $3.4 million in cost savings. What’s more interesting, these cost savings occurred despite the fact that those companies with driver protection solutions in place had 6 percent more vehicles on the road. The data is clearly pointing to the increasing need for intelligent solutions or smarter mobile usage.
While many companies depend on telematics and dashboard cameras to identify risky behaviors behind the wheel, these approaches focus on monitoring behavior and reacting to an incident. This means businesses are forced to manually monitor and enforce their driver responsibility programs. Adding to the challenge, when companies merely respond to accidents after the fact, they are most likely unaware of the extent of their mobile device distraction problems.
On the other hand, organizations using a proactive mobile management solution can address distraction risks before an accident occurs, preventing claims, liabilities, and losses associated with mobile device usage. Construction companies need smart mobile solutions that can actively and intelligently enforce a company’s mobile device policy. This includes addressing:
- All device types, including handheld and hands-free
- All employees, across various job functions
- All work zones, behind the wheel, with heavy equipment and on-site
Fortunately, there’s technology that exists to make mobile devices smarter, which can guarantee safe mobile device usage while workers are behind the wheel. Without having to block cellphones or cutting off network access, companies can manage how their employees use mobile devices in a smart way so that policies are enforced by employee, by device, by job function, and by work zone.
Using Workflow Apps
Smart mobility today means giving employees the technology they need to get the job done while eliminating the needless interruptions that lead to incidents on the road or on the jobsite. Using a solution that enables an employee’s mobile device to act like an automatic safety switch, companies can enforce their mobile use policies based on contextual indicators, including movement, to determine if an employee is behind the wheel of a vehicle or operating heavy equipment. This concept is known as Contextual Mobility Management or CMM.
Consisting of a web-based management console and an app that sits on the mobile device, CMM senses when a situation has changed, or new risks have been introduced. If the situation requires different mobile access permissions as defined by the company usage policy, the CMM app will automatically switch the mobile device to protected mode. Once the risk is gone, the device reverts to normal operation. CMM ensures that employees still have access to the apps they need to do their jobs, when they need them, but without limiting the functionality of the mobile device overall. For example, employees traveling to a jobsite can access apps for directions but won’t have access to calling or texting capabilities while the engine is on. Once the CMM app identifies that the engine is no longer running, the mobile device returns to its normal functionality. CMM also eases privacy concerns, as the solution only manages applications and device functionality and does not track the employee’s location, report the apps they use, or access personal data.
According to ORCIG data analysis, when a driver safety solution such as CMM is in place, an average of $875,000 per year is saved from reduced claims, losses, and payouts. The math quickly adds up, especially if any of those prevented accidents would have involved injuries or fatalities. Eliminating driver mobile device distraction in the workplace has undeniable benefits to everyone involved. The financial benefits are clear. The improvements to safety, productivity, and reduction in business risk are also very impactful. This especially rings true in an industry where strong safety ratings and a reputation for operating on-time and in-budget are the keys to staying in business.