The workforce on site is often fluid and flexible. Inefficient management could lead to a number of compliance complications
Mobile and transient workers are common place in construction and in many heavy industrial industries. Both workers and sites have the same challenges to be portable, consistent and auditable; however, this is not always achievable without technology.
There are several issues to consider when managing a workforce on site. Firstly – and quite remarkably – many construction companies are still using paper timesheets which makes managing and monitoring a transient workforce challenging, time-consuming and open to fraudulent activities. Without reliable visibility, contractor cannot categorically say who has been on their sites, when, for how long and whether they were qualified for the job they were doing. The risk about “blame claim” has become more prominent in recent years - paper records are easily lost and do not provide the needed security to protect against “blame claims” in the future.
Collating hundreds of timesheets from different sites in a timely way is a challenging process – it often involves the Monday morning “call around” where the site manager risks the head office with the timesheet information. How much time is wasted here?
Different workers have different worker requirements at different locations, such as site inductions, PPE, training certifications. There are also issues in managing sub-contractor staff. Workers who contract to several prime contractors may be able to overlap shifts. For example, a worker could contract to two different prime contractors and effectively work a shift for each within 24-hour period and this would go undetected by either prime contractor. Double shifting is a particularly important issue at peak times, such as Christmas and Easter, and keeping accurate records of certifications held by sub-contracted individuals can be a challenging process.
Transient workers often do not come into “head office” and therefore the site induction could also be part of a wider employment induction. It is a legal requirement that records are kept as part of this process – they need to be stored securely and easily located when needed. Without proper controls there is a big risk of a worker going to site without being site inducted.
Managing training certifications, from skills to validity and expiry, is difficult across multiple sites. Technology can help here in automating the process and running real-time checks at sign-in.
Workers may also be on different rates dependant on their geographic location which can be time consuming to control. Collating hundreds of timesheets from different sites in a timely way is a challenging process – it often involves the Monday morning “call around” where the site manager risks the head office with the timesheet information. How much time is wasted here?
In recent years we’ve seen greater market competition drive price and efficiency demands. Other market changes include a balance of power shift – the market of today is a worker’s market and therefore the workforce is fluid, meaning more requirements for site inductions and security checks.
Likewise, a construction workforce has a higher proportion of employees who are not UK residents but able to work for defined periods of time that need to be managed and policed for ongoing legal status.
Despite these potential problems, technological advancements, such as the widespread adoption of connected devices through the Internet of Things (IoT), have changed society’s view for on demand and real-time applications with self-service. There is a big focus on a “paperless workplace” which is a reduction in employees in disguise.
While having a standard clock-in system in place may mitigate against some of these potential complications, with such a plethora of issues to consider, effective management of a fluid working site is an absolute necessity, and there’s only so far efficient paper records can take you.
Kev Dendy is director at Donseed