Observing the working procedure of construction workers is an effective means of maintaining the safety performance of a construction project. It is also difficult to achieve due to a high worker-to-safety-officer ratio. There is an imminent need for the development of a tool to assist in the real-time monitoring of workers, in order to reduce the number of construction accidents. The development and application of a real time locating system (RTLS) based on the chirp spread spectrum (CSS) technique is described in this paper for tracking the real-time position of workers on construction sites. Experiments and tests were carried out both on- and off-site to verify the accuracy of static and dynamic targets by the system, indicating an average error of within 1 m. Experiments were also carried out to verify the ability of the system to identify workers' unsafe behaviours. Wireless data transfer was used to simplify the deployment of the system. The system was deployed in a public residential construction project and proved to be quick and simple to use. The cost of the developed system is also reported to be reasonable (around 1800USD) in this study and is much cheaper than the cost of other RTLS. In addition, the CCS technique is shown to provide an economical solution with reasonable accuracy compared with other positioning systems, such as ultra wideband. The study verifies the potential of the CCS technique to provide an effective and economical aid in the improvement of safety management in the construction industry.