Almost half of all construction workers fear safety could be put at risk on job sites when artificial intelligence (AI) and automation becomes standard, according to a survey carried out on behalf of Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE).
Safety topped job security as the number one concern in the poll of construction workers, with 46% highlighting the increased risk to site safety. The second biggest concern was the potential for job losses, with 31% anxious for their jobs.
The survey also revealed that new technology, such as smarter machines, are also a cause for optimism. Over half of respondents (54%) think autonomous machines and AI will boost productivity, while 48% believe advanced technology will increase the speed of everyday construction tasks.
The younger generation are more positive about new technology than their older counterparts; respondents aged between 25 and 44 are more likely to think autonomous machinery could be a benefit in areas such as productivity, speed, safety, quality and fuel efficiency compared to those aged 44 and over.
When it comes to job fears, it is the machine operator that is perceived to be most at risk, according to 48% of respondents. Those working in this job role agree, with three in five machine operators believing their job could become redundant following the rise in computer technology. Engineers are considered the second job role most at risk (21%), followed by bricklayers (17%) and construction managers (16%). Only one in five construction workers believe no jobs will be affected at all.
Volvo Group automation specialist, Christian Grante said, “We believe our focus on technologies such as automation is exactly what allows us to make the construction industry safer. Our research into this area has shown that autonomous systems really can improve safety and productivity for our customers. With more machines working in collaboration with humans, rather than being controlled by them, this will only increase further.”