Your #1 underutilized asset: leveraging the smartphone for a safer jobsite.

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Considering the millions of people wandering around with chins buried in their chests, thumbs ablaze on glass keyboards, few would suggest the smartphone is underutilized.














How can smartphones be underutilized?



Well, on the jobsite smartphones could be the most effective, consistent and reliable way around the English-Spanish language barrier.



They could be.

But they aren’t.



English-speaking leaders and managers all carry smartphones.

Hispanics do too.



Moore’s Law has dramatically lowered the smartphone cost of ownership. This rapid cost descent enables Hispanics to lead the way in mobile broadband usage.



Research conducted by the Division of Governmental Studies & Services found compared to all Americans, “Hispanics account for more minutes used and for a higher percentage of cell-phone ownership despite their relatively low incomes.”




53% of Hispanics use mobile broadband.

Whites? 33%.





We all share in the glory of the smartphone.



So what? 



Despite the smartphone’s popularity, we don’t use it very well on our bilingual jobsites. The results are deadly.

One towering failure is Safety. Hispanics are nearly 2x as likely to be injured or killed on the job due to a lack of communication.




We either pretend all Hispanic construction workers comprehend English or we opt for a professional game of telephone.




I inform bilingual Pedro of the safety expectations.

He tells Chava the foreman.

Chava tells Edgar & Jesus.

They tell everyone else.

And… the injuries mount.




Are we surprised?




So how can we leverage the smartphone for a safer jobsite?



Start a digital library.

It’s not as daunting as it sounds.



The first step is to leverage another underutilized asset – all those jobsite digital photos you’ve been capturing over the years.



Pick an activity to focus on – Scaffolding, for example.



Find 12 photos.

6 illustrating the proper method.

6 highlighting the way people die.





Now create a new Power Point presentation with 12 slides.

Place the 12 images on the 12 slides, alternating between Bad and Good.




On the positive examples, place text in the right-hand corner, font size 44: YES / SÍ

On the incorrect examples, simply write: NO




Now write a brief script for the information you wish to convey.

Don’t skip this step.



In Power Point, under “Slide Show” click “Record narration.”

Then click “Record.”



When done, click “File” and “Save as movie.”



Pull bilingual Pedro into your office and repeat the process en Español.



Load them onto a private Youtube account and email your bilingual team.



At Red Angle, we work with our clients to develop safety videos under 3 minutes in length. Once the images are collected and the script is written, we complete videos in both languages in about 30 minutes.



Curating a digital library sounds challenging.

It’s not.



Pictures are worth 1000 words – in any language.



So start leveraging the smartphone for a safer jobsite.



If you’d like an example of a video built with the process described, email me directly at




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a  training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry. He similblogs these posts at Professional Builder’s Housing Zone.



Categories: Construction Spanish

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