Biometrics, the answer to Construction Disputes?

Avoiding Contractual Disputes

12 Mar Biometrics, the answer to Construction Disputes?

Shaun Oakes, Managing Director of ievo Ltd, the Newcastle-based manufacturer of biometric recognition systems, explains how modern biometric scanners for access control can give the construction industry not only reliable time & attendance data to avoid contractual disputes but also vital CSCS training standard authentication for Health & Safety.

Whilst it’s generally accepted that biometric fingerprint scanners provide a superior security control measure to that of numeric keypads, fobs or identity cards, for construction sites an integration with time & attendance software brings the added benefit of accurate and reliable records for HR departments, health & safety, attendance records, and, crucially, sub-contract payroll evidence.

Complex construction projects will inevitably involve a host of contractors and sub-contractors whose work will be closely monitored by project management teams. Potential conflicts can work both ways dependant on contracts, with contractors and sub-contractors relying on evidence that they have met contractual obligations and are due to the agreed fee for products or services, with clients and main contractors often claiming a reduction in fees due to non-compliance with the contract. At the end of the day, both sides, if unable to reach a compromise, need accurate information of whom was on site, when and for how long.

If, for example, there were not as many qualified bricklayers or electricians on site as had been promised or required to progress the work, which then impacted on subsequent stages of a project, the client can feel rightly aggrieved. But if the sub-contractor can prove they provided adequate or pre-agreed numbers of qualified tradespersons and any delay was not down to their actions, they have an extremely powerful legal argument.

In addition, many contracts are carried out in sensitive environments, such as the health and education sectors where projects warrant the main contractor to closely monitor the workforce and keep significant records. The subcontractor supplying labour to a site also needs to ensure that each employee holds the required qualifications and certificates to complete their contract. A vital requirement, therefore, is the necessity to provide positive identification of the workforce and to ensure that the person who turns up for a day’s work is who they say they are.

Construction contracts are also complex and subject to constant changes. Ensuring accurate records of labour on site enables the main contractor to monitor progress against labour resource so that a failure by a subcontractor to supply sufficient qualified labour leading to potential delays and subsequent cost overruns can be addressed and controlled.

Contractual conflict resulting from the above scenarios costs the industry billions, yet can easily be reduced by accurate time & attendance data, leading to the question of how accurate the data is.

Key fobs, swipe cards or even the old style punch cards are all open to abuse with ‘buddy punching’ and other fraudulent practices producing false data. Numeric codes can be forgotten causing costly reprogramming, cards and fobs can be swapped, shared or lost whilst even dedicated security staff are not infallible resulting in unreliable data which simply confuses contractual conflicts.

Yet, modern biometric access control, linked to time & attendance software, provides a highly cost-effective alternative. Fingerprints are unique to the person but the very nature of construction sites, however, with their inherent high levels of dirt, grease, moisture and dust has meant that the industry has been reluctant to accept this new technology as this type of environment can often hinder biometric security systems that simply cannot function through the debris.

In designing our range of fingerprint scanners, one of our primary objectives was to ensure we could provide a solution that would operate in a variety of challenging environments and meet security demands without having to compromise on performance.

The ievo ultimate™ uses an advanced sensor which employs multispectral imaging (MSI) technology to scan and capture data. MSI uses multiple light sources to read not only the surface of the skin but also data points from the subsurface level (up to 4mm deep) of a finger. The different light sources can penetrate levels of moisture and debris present on the skin to read data points below. This advanced method allows for a high number of uniquely identifiable data points to be recognised and used for a more accurate, reliable and efficient verification process.

The readers are also designed for both external and internal use and are equipped with an internal thermostat controlled heater allowing them to operate in conditions as low as -20˚C and, being IP65 rated, they also function in levels of heavy rain.

The readers can be installed to work with a variety of access points such as turnstiles, barriers, doors etc. and integrates into existing access control systems from well-known manufacturers such as Paxton, Stanley, Honeywell and Nortech. The access system can be customised with a variety of options depending on requirements to provide a deeper level of security using non-infringed biometric data. Clients and contractors can be sure that only those with access permissions will be on site at the times the contract specifies.

Furthermore, ievo solutions can be integrated into the CSCS matrix, via industry-specific software,  to enable a comprehensive approach to workforce management and ensuring personnel accessing the site are suitably qualified to carry out the various trades. The information can also be used to provide fast, accurate and reliable health and safety records.

It’s a technology that is now becoming increasingly attractive to the industry. Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders, recently said, “The use of modern technology can solve many of our security, efficiency and regulatory burdens, for example, in monitoring of attendance or compliance with health and safety. We welcome any technology, particularly when developed by an SME, that improves the quality and productivity of the construction industry.”
 

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