The workers on your sites play a big part in making each project a success, and while they’re on site they are also responsible for upholding your company’s reputation. You depend on them every day, but do you know who they are?
The number of UK modern slavery cases reported to the National Crime Agency rose by 36% between 2018 and 2019. In 2013, it was estimated that there were between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK.
This, coupled with the fact that in 2017 the construction industry contributed £113 billion to the national economy and accounted for 6.8% of all jobs in 2018, presents considerable risk. With so many people in its workforce, and huge, diverse networks of suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors, the industry is a prime target for gangmasters looking to exploit the desire for a constant stream of relatively low-cost labour.
With the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, companies with an annual turnover of £36 million or more must publish a statement on modern slavery as part of their corporate social responsibility. This requirement has placed importance on supply chain transparency and many buyers will now only work with audited suppliers and contractors.
Knowing exactly who’s on site is an important way of adding certainty to your operations and ensuring you’re meeting legal and ethical requirements.
Research from biometric workforce management software company Donseed shows the potential scale of the problem. One specialist contractor they studied was using paper audits and the research found 46% of workers were not signing in regularly.
Worker smart cards have emerged as one way to keep an accurate track of people on construction sites, but this solution has its own problems. A survey by the Construction Industry Training Board and the Construction Skills Certification Scheme found that 14% of surveyed workers had never had their cards checked, while 44% had been checked only when entering a site for the first time. Visual checks with paper records are still the norm, with smart technologies only accounting for 6% of card checks.
This is a problem because smart cards are not only designed to provide access to sites, but also to verify the cardholder’s qualifications for the job they are undertaking. Paper-based systems open you up to fraud, fake cards and unqualified workers accessing your sites. This can jeopardise health and safety and make you an unwitting party to modern slavery in the UK.
We think that effectively monitoring who is on your site requires two things: audits and cutting-edge digital solutions.
A Labour Practices Audit gives a company the visibility they need to work more effectively and deliver better results. Carried out onsite, it focuses on gathering insight from employees that is then channelled into the company’s code of conduct, corporate social responsibility and modern slavery statements.
Our audits focus on both the construction site and back office by surveying workers as well as looking at management systems and personnel file compliance. This can be especially valuable for construction companies using a lot of subcontractors.
Onsite Workforce helps you get the information you need to actively reduce the risk that comes from subcontracting. Working in collaboration with Donseed, we use cutting-edge biometric identification to give you a crystal-clear picture of who’s on site and what they’re doing.
Utilising biometrics provides a number of advantages to construction companies:
From helping you improve health and safety in the workplace and the way you manage your workforce to saving on materials and other expenses, biometric data can drive efficiencies across sites.
The way you plan projects, go through tender processes, report to investors and present audits can also be improved by knowing exactly who is doing what on your sites.
Eliminating paper-based audit systems immediately frees people up to do more important and value-adding tasks, but it can also help make sure you’re working in the best way. Systems like Onsite Workforce typically tend to pay for themselves within months by helping construction companies identify the ways they can save time and money.
A clear and auditable record of attendance means you can always be sure your pay records are accurate. You may find that you can reduce attendance, travel and other expenses too.
The rise of UK modern slavery highlights the importance of maintaining effective oversight of who works for you. By utilising the latest technology, construction companies can vastly simplify and improve the way they manage their workforces, ensuring they meet legal and ethical requirements along the way.