They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but that could be an understatement. Words are risky. They take time to write, and they can slip your mind when you need them most.

So why not let pictures do the talking? That’s what PCL’s business technology and health, safety, and environment teams asked themselves when they developed the groundbreaking HSE Inspection App, a web application that uses artificial intelligence to analyze photos and assess job-site hazards. 

The process is straightforward, but the tech is cutting-edge. During on-site inspections, workers take photos of hazards such as slippery surfaces, exposed electrical wire, or dangerous debris. Then they upload these photos to the HSE Inspection App and provide a brief description. Using machine learning, the app predicts the hazard standard category and risk ranking. As workers upload more photos, the quality of the data improves.

“The intention of the app is to identify hazards in the field quickly and get them resolved right away,” said Tyler Ciarroni, HSE business analyst with PCL. “Other inspection forms can have over 30 data entry points, so completing an inspection can be a time-consuming process. This app allows workers to address any hazard on the spot.”

Bypassing these administrative tasks means the data is submitted sooner, facilitating a faster response. Users can even assign corrective actions from their phone, and the built-in notification system keeps management up to date on the project’s safety.

Workers have been using the app in the field for nearly a year, and their feedback continues to help refine it. Similar to the Mobile Pre-job Safety Instruction App – another app PCL developed in-house, which has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of sheets worth of paper forms – workers say the HSE Inspection App streamlines their routine.

“It’s as simple as pulling out your phone, snapping a photo and entering it on the go,” said Alex Madrid, HSE supervisor with PCL’s U.S. Civil Infrastructure Division. “It saves everything automatically and there’s no chance of forgetting it. Submit it and boom – it’s in the cloud.”

Beyond these benefits, the HSE Inspection App also proves to clients that PCL is continually refining its approach to safety. By leveraging our exceptional in-house talent to strengthen safety capabilities – even in emerging fields like artificial intelligence – we can provide peace of mind to our partners, clients and employees. Ciarroni believes that as adoption of the app increases, clients will notice demonstrable reductions in recordable incidents and lost time.  

“The construction industry typically doesn’t use artificial intelligence to identify hazards,” he added. “The HSE Inspection App shows our clients and partners that we take safety very seriously. It shows we’re always looking for innovative ways to improve our safety processes, and that it isn’t just a day job for our people. It’s their lives.”