Computer Vision on the Construction Site: The ROI of Workplace Safety AI with EHS Compliance

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May. 6, 2021

While construction has traditionally been a low-tech industry, more and more firms are seeing the benefits of adopting artificial intelligence and computer vision solutions. But what is the ROI of construction AI exactly, and how can computer vision help construction firms cut costs and increase their productivity and profits?

The Pain Points of Construction Companies

Construction companies face a number of pain points that threaten to cut into their profits and even shut their business down. Perhaps the biggest issue for many construction firms is the inherent danger of the industry, with an elevated risk of injury and death that workers face while on the job.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 21 percent of U.S. workplace fatalities in 2018 (1,008 deaths) were in the construction industry. The “fatal four” causes—falls, being struck by objects, electrocution, and being caught in equipment or objects—are responsible for 59 percent of construction worker deaths. What’s more, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that construction workers have more than 150,000 nonfatal injuries and illnesses per year.

Construction sites are also extremely common targets for crimes such as theft and vandalism: lumber, metal, tools, appliances, and heavy equipment are all frequently stolen. The National Equipment Register estimates that between $300 million and $1 billion in construction equipment is stolen every year, representing a substantial cost for businesses—in terms of the insurance policies needed to protect themselves, the headache involved in filling out paperwork and police reports, and the delays that can result as workers wait to replace the equipment.

Computer Vision Solutions for Construction

The construction companies who can find novel solutions to these difficulties are the ones best poised for success in a rapidly shifting business landscape. Enter AI and computer vision. Despite the industry’s low-tech reputation, consulting firm McKinsey & Company has called artificial intelligence “construction technology’s next frontier,” with just 16 percent of construction companies adopting AI technologies.

By enforcing workplace regulations, the use of computer vision can dramatically improve construction companies’ return on their investment. For example, trained object recognition models can detect whether workers are wearing protective equipment such as hard hats, vests, or masks while on the job. These systems can identify non-compliant employees, allowing managers to act preventively before an OSHA fine or an injury. (To see an example of such a solution in action for construction, check out this YouTube video.)

Computer vision is also invaluable for construction companies when it comes to security AI. Many construction sites are located in remote areas or can’t be monitored by humans 24/7. Trained computer vision models can identify vehicles (including capturing license plates), detect when a given boundary has been breached, and even recognize potential fire hazards through the use of specialized infrared cameras. In particular, facial authentication systems can distinguish authorized employees from potential intruders when entering or exiting the job site.

The ROI of Computer Vision for Construction

The ROI of computer vision solutions for construction can be measured in the following manners:

  • Lower costs: Reducing the risk of employee injuries on construction sites helps companies cut costs by lowering their insurance premiums (not to mention the chance of an expensive lawsuit). Likewise, security AI can help reduce the risk of equipment theft, which can cost thousands of dollars for each instance.
  • Higher productivity: Computer vision solutions can improve construction companies’ productivity in two ways: first, by reducing the risk of injuries that force employees to take off work; second, by reducing the risk of equipment theft that forces workers to stop or slow down.
  • Improving security: Facial authentication systems at the entrance to construction sites ensure that only authorized employees are permitted inside, improving security and decreasing the potential for theft and vandalism.

Conclusion

From ensuring workplace safety with AI to preventing equipment theft, there are a wide range of potential applications of computer vision in construction. Chooch’s production-ready yet user-friendly AI platform makes it easy for even the most technically challenged construction companies to build and deploy cutting-edge AI models. To learn more and to start your free trial of the Chooch AI platform, check out our page on computer vision for industrial AI.

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