The number of work-related incidents, from workplace accidents resulting in injury to those resulting in illness, within the construction industry is significantly higher than any other industry. The figure is mostly due to the sheer physical labor involved, not to mention the presence of multiple heavy machinery.
This is why workplace safety and hazard prevention practices are doubly important in construction, as workplace incidents in this industry can lead to either serious injury or even death.
But minimizing workplace incidents in a construction business isn’t just great for employees, it’s great for businesses too: workplace incidents that lead to accidents, injury, or illness can lead to potentially devastating financial and legal repercussions, not to mention deal a heavy blow to your company’s reputation. After all, no one will want to work with a construction firm that doesn’t care about its workers.
Encouraging workplace safety in the construction industry is not just about following the extremely strict (albeit easy to follow) OSHA guidelines to the letter, it’s about creating a culture of safety.
Here are some ways to create a safety-first mindset in construction firms.
Keep Your Inspections as Frequent as Possible
It’s common practice for construction firms to lease most, if not all, their heavy equipment. Although these third-party providers will almost-always provide their clients with top-of-the-line, high quality equipment, it’s always best to inspect them as often as possible.
Follow regular leased equipment inspection schedules to make sure that all the tools in your site are in their highest functioning state and make regular safety inspections a part of your worker’s daily lives.
A safety-first mindset is less about reacting to workplace incidents and more about preventing them from happening in the first place. During inspections, make sure to identify both existing hazards and potential hazards. This proactive attitude can, and will, drastically reduce both workplace injury and workplace illnesses like MSD’s or tuberculosis.
Make Everyone Accountable
In construction site hierarchy, the construction manager is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of their workers. However, be that as it may, encourage a culture of self-accountability within your construction site. Everyone on site, from the foreman and the carpenters to the machine operators, the construction manager, even the accountant and the interns, should be responsible for both their personal safety and that of the public.
As much as possible, any person who steps foot in a construction site should be made aware of your safety guidelines. Management should also actively suggest practical and actionable processes to both improve safety conditions and exceed OSHA safety guidelines.
Awareness is Key
As mentioned, any person within your construction site should be made aware of your company’s particular safety guidelines. To further encourage a safety-first culture, training and education programs in workplace health and safety should be both recurring and mandatory. These programs should include everything from risk mitigation best practices to risk assessment and management.
Every worker should also be given the opportunity to practice their newfound safety skills in real life through training exercises and, again, regular inspections. This should be a practice that applies to everyone on site, be it a foreman, director, apprentice, or even just temp workers.
Enforce Workplace Safety Rules as Strictly as Possible
With the amount of workplace safety training, reminders, practices, and inspections that occur in your construction site, any person who fails to follow these guidelines should face severe and immediate consequences, with expulsion from the site being on the table at all times. After all, a person who cannot or does not follow safety regulations in a construction should not be allowed to step foot in a construction site, both for their safety and the safety of the other workers.
Of course, just like how safety should be a proactive practice, reminding people of their responsibility to follow workplace safety rules should also be proactive. Keep your reminders of safety regulations as regular as your inspections, and maintain an open-door policy when it comes to reporting unsafe behavior.
Construction firms should show their employees that their safety is first and foremost in the company’s priorities and that any infraction, no matter how small, will be dealt with strictly and swiftly. Encourage workers to practice near-miss reporting and ensure that, while the company will be strict, it will also be fair, with appropriate consequences being meted out to the offending party.
Health and Safety Cannot Be Overstated in Construction
Every business regardless of industry has a legal and ethical obligation to ensure that its employees are provided a safe and healthy workplace. However, because of the nature of construction, the construction industry needs to be extra strict in providing these obligations, as even the smallest mistake can result in costly compensations and delays.
However, by instilling a culture of safety, untoward incidents can be avoided while bottom-lines can be reached, all while keeping workers safe and sound.