Ask any construction business owner, regardless of the size of their operation what their top priority is and you’ll get the same response every time: worker safety. The real question
The real question owners should always be asking themselves is whether or not their safety program is robust enough to meet their commitment to protecting their workers.
Here’s why—One out of every five worker deaths occurs in construction.
The total number of construction fatalities has been on the rise over the past several years. Creating an effective safety program and promoting a culture of safety throughout your organization can go a long way helping you achieve your goal of zero accidents, zero injuries and zero fatalities on every project you undertake.
We’ve put together the following eight tips for building a stellar safety program:
The Commitment to Safety Starts at the Top
Getting your employees to buy into your safety program begins with buy-in from you and your leadership team. Prove your commitment to safety by providing training and personal protective equipment to all your employees. Make sure tools and equipment are inspected regularly and are in good working order. If equipment is faulty or in disrepair, make sure it is taken out of service until it can be repaired or replaced.
Have a written safety policy and make it available to all employees. At a minimum, it should cover procedures for injury reporting, basic safety rules, preventative measures, emergency procedures and all policies and regulations that promote and enforce a safe working environment. Each employee should be responsible for reading and acknowledging that they fully understand and agree to comply with the safety policy.
Have a Plan for Every Project
There’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ safety plan. Every project is different, and every job site is unique. Before any work begins on a new project, identify all existing and potential hazards that could crop up throughout the duration of the project. Determine what controls need to be instituted to mitigate or eliminate those hazards.
This is also the time to identify and inspect the tools and equipment for the job. The safety manager should work with the project manager to discuss the schedule of work to plan out the weekly safety meetings. Create an emergency response plan and a job site specific first aid program for each new project. Share the safety should be shared with everyone setting foot on the job site.
Training Never Stops
Train all new employees with indepth safe work practices and all applicable OSHA standards. Employees should be able to recognize hazards and unsafe working conditions. Train workers on the safe operation of machinery and equipment regardless of their skill level. Employees should not be allowed to operate any equipment or machinery unless they can prove that they can do so safely and proficiently.
Safety training shouldn’t start and stop with new employees. Repeated and ongoing training not only reinforces your company’s commitment to safety to your workers; it keeps it on the top the minds of your employees. Be sure to use site inspections as teaching moments when safety procedures aren’t followed, either as one-on-one training for isolated events or to the whole team if it appears the issue is more pervasive.
Teach basic first aid to all employees. Even if you have trained medical personnel on the job site every day, they can’t be everywhere all the time. The sooner first aid can be administered to an injured worker, the better, even if it’s just primary care.
A corrective measure such as retraining should be a part of any disciplinary action taken when someone is caught not obeying the rules or for any unsafe or reckless behavior. It’s always a good idea to do a little research before handing down punishment. Was their behavior a result of a blatant disregard of the rules or did the employee not receive proper training? Evaluate your training program regularly and adjust it as needed to make sure your employees are receiving the best possible instruction.
By Kendall Jones, Construction Market Data