Today’s contractor crews face increasing pressure to meet deadlines and stay within budget, and it’s becoming easier for them to take shortcuts and ignore proper job site safety procedures. This blog post covers construction safety tips that help workers get home to their families safe and sound at the end of the day.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day. The national fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than that of all other industries.
Establishing a proper safety culture is key to preventing work-related injuries and unscheduled downtime. Avoid hazards by following these four easy construction safety tips for the average job site:
Establish a positive safety culture
There are many potential hazards on the average job site: falls, dropped objects, structure collapses, repetitive motion injuries, electric shock and improperly used personal protective equipment (PPE) – just to name some. Having an official safety program in place helps prevent these types of accidents.
The idea is to set clear expectations early on so safety isn’t an afterthought. A good way to start is by integrating the requirements of your job site with OSHA’s safety and health regulations for construction – then delivering a consistent safety message to your employees.
When talking about safety with your crew, it’s important to have clear communication. Explain what safety steps you’re taking and why you’re taking them. If senior management delivers the message from time to time, many workers will be more likely to adopt safety practices. The general message – and routine for that matter – should be that everyone is responsible for promoting safety by following the rules.
Your safety program can start with a basic toolbox talk and group stretch at the beginning of each work day. These activities are a great way to spark discussion and build camaraderie. These are just a few topics that could be included in a toolbox talk:
- Are our tools and equipment safe to use?
- Where are the fire extinguishers, eye-washing stations and first-aid kits?
- What’s the proper way to lift heavy items without getting injured?
Provide necessary safety training
Providing proper safety training for your employees is crucial – especially if there is a risk for injury. You should give them hands-on experience and written instructions for safe work procedures, then supervise them closely to make sure workers are utilizing their training.
OSHA has many state-specific safety training resources that are helpful to contractor crews. It’s important for even the most experienced workers to refresh their knowledge by attending training sessions throughout the year.
Invest in the right resources
Workers who don’t have the right gear or materials could be at risk. It’s important for project managers to invest in and properly maintain resources that boost worker safety and potential hazard visibility.
Here are some of general resources that contribute to worker safety:
- Communication devices (smartphones, hand radios, etc.)
- Cloud-based project management software (to keep everyone updated)
- Proper PPE
- Safety signage
- Emergency response materials
- Rest areas where workers can warm up or cool off
Lead by example: One of the most important construction safety tips
Show your workers you’re invested in their safety by following your safety guidelines. If you show workers you’re truly committed to safety, they’ll be more inclined to trust you and follow your example. It’s all about getting employee buy-in.
Additionally, you should regularly encourage your workers to speak up when they see a safety concern, which helps avoid accidents. Your crew members should feel comfortable approaching you with these observations without fear of being looked down on. Here are some other ways you can walk the walk when it comes to job site safety:
- Provide employee feedback. Approach improvements in a constructive way, putting the focus on unwanted behaviors instead of the individual person.
- Supervise closely. Supervisors must be willing to enforce safety standards and promote accountability among crew members.
- Investigate and record incidents. Even if there wasn’t a serious injury, figure out why a safety incident occurred so you can take steps to make sure it won’t happen again.
No matter their experience level, it’s crucial employees are aware of potential hazards on the job site. Workers should be involved with shaping their safety culture, feeling empowered to report hazards.