Improving safety in construction is challenging: deadlines often compete with safety performance, worksite and conditions can vary and the challenge of educating workers on the newest safety regulations in their respective roles are just a few of the constantly changing variables that can lead to risk of injury.
In fact, fall hazards in construction continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 366 of the 971 construction fatalities recorded in 2017 (BLS data). https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/
Considering a 2020 New Year’s safety resolution? How about continuing to drive advancement in construction safety? How do we do that?
- Make safety personal – Safety is most effective when there is personal investment in its success. We “work to live not live to work,” the average worker will spend 90,000 hours of their life working – each of those hours should be safe.
- Set safety expectations – let the crews know what is expected of them while on a specific project site, rather than applying the same blanketed safety approach to all work sites.
- Implement a Safety Program – develop and roll out a construction safety program that focuses on compliance assurance as well as excellence in safety performance.
- Promote a non-threatening environment – A “safety police” approach is generally not effective in building or sustaining a world class safety culture. Collaborative approaches are best, to seek input and identify practices that are not only the safest, but that the workers will actually follow – when the safety person is NOT around. This builds ownership and demonstrates that everyone can and should be involved in their safety program.
How Can I Make Employees Care?
Corporate safety is the foundation of solid safety management, so it’s true that the job of tracking lagging and leading indicators is important. But safety isn’t just about numbers or metrics. Rules are in place so people can go home in the same condition they came to work that day. Your employees might not get the picture at first, but regular reminders are helpful to drive home the message. It starts with a simple conversation where you, as a professional, offer a straightforward explanation that safety rules protect us from a lifelong physical injury/debilitating pain that could prevent us from enjoying life at home.
Effective safety managers understand that these conversations can’t happen unless you know your people. This takes time and requires an important investment in the interpersonal relationship. The more you get to know the workers on a one-to-one basis, the better the results.
When workers have incentive to always and constantly be mindful of the hazards around them, they become trained “hazard hunters.” Construction is extremely dynamic and requires constant vigilance by everyone involved. When workers become attuned and recognized for identifying hazards before they result in incidents or injuries, this represents best-in-class behavior. When workers are fully empowered to stop working when hazards become unacceptable, that safety professional has done his or her job and becomes a resource for help and safety guidance rather than a bystander or enforcer.
Need Help Getting Through to Your Workers?
The ability to interact positively with the workforce and express personal risk such as family and health when discussing safety is vital. Without these qualities, it’s difficult to instill an attitude of ownership and accountability when it comes to safety in the workplace. For more information of construction safety contact TRC’s construction safety team. We have extensive experience in supporting construction safety programs from the initial design stage of a project to its completion.
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