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While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced shutdowns of many global businesses, a coalition of leading critical infrastructure and construction companies has banded together to launch the “NEXT Coalition” to promote and share industry safety best practices. Black & Veatch, DPR Construction, Haskell and McCarthy Building Companies are leveraging their deep safety expertise and best practices in a campaign to ensure the well-being of crews and office team members facing complex challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak.
The coalition seeks to identify and advance processes and technologies most likely to bolster construction safety in response to the “next normal” ushered in by COVID-19. To that end, the coalition of leading construction and design companies is launching the “Construction Safety Challenge,” an open call to companies, startups and other innovators with emerging safety solutions that can be quickly deployed and scaled.
“This virus, and future pandemics won’t wait for us to catch up,” said Steve Edwards, CEO of Black & Veatch. “The NEXT Coalition recognizes the opportunities that our companies’ collective scale and experience create to quickly begin sourcing, testing and launching solutions that can impact construction safety fast. To accomplish that goal, we needed to look outside of our own companies. Hence, the need for the open Challenge.”
The NEXT Coalition seeks both new startups and seasoned companies to partner with its members to implement products and processes that will enhance health and safety in the field and back office. Submissions must be as close to market-ready as possible, though proof-of-concept/prototype-stage solutions will be considered. Solutions that are chosen may be deployed by coalition members on active projects around the globe.
“The need for rapid innovation and implementation in our industry has never been greater,” McCarthy Southern California Region President Michael Myers said. “This coalition has joined together to source the best solutions to ensure the safety and sustainability of all of our projects. As we continue to deliver critical infrastructure across the country, our companies have the reach and the resources to move the needle on an industry-wide basis.”
The Construction Safety Challenge seeks solutions in areas that include safety policy compliance, screening, tracking and tracing, real-time communication, incident tracking, data analytics and others. Technologies of solutions may include screening, mobile apps, disinfection, wearables, contact tracing, personal protection equipment (PPE) and more.
"Keeping workers safe can best be accomplished through collaboration," said Michelle Gray, one of DPR’s safety leaders. "As we face the pandemic, the world has again shown that safety can be open-source. Providing a safe workplace is a duty of all employers, and the NEXT Coalition is excited about contributing to open-source safety to protect people and keep jobs open.”
Such considerations are paramount in the construction sector where work cannot be done remotely and social distancing can be challenging. This makes developing solutions to minimize or quickly mitigate the onsite transmission of COVID-19 and future pandemics essential.
“The peer companies in the Next Coalition are combining distinguished cultures of safety, operational excellence and innovation to accelerate impactful change within our industry, and beyond,” said Jim O’Leary, president and CEO of Haskell. “The abrupt and global impact of COVID-19 reinforces and amplifies these cultural expectations.”
The Construction Safety Challenge is facilitated by Brightidea, a leading innovation management platform that accelerates the success of modern approaches by harnessing the creative potential of organizations. Developed ideas are submitted through a web portal, a mobile app or by email, then reviewed by subject-matter experts at each company.
“The Construction Safety Challenge is another example of organizations turning to crowdsourcing as the best way to generate reliable and vetted solutions for mitigating the impact of this pandemic,” said Matt Greeley, Brightidea’s CEO. “The solutions that come out of the Safety Challenge will surely be applicable to other industries as they start to grapple with what the `next normal’ looks like.”