As a construction manager, your No. 1 priority is the well-being of your employees. You’ve put safety guidelines in place, but how can you get crew members to actually adopt a safety culture?
Here are some ways you can help workers feel a sense of responsibility and empowerment when it comes to practicing safety on the job site.
Communicate the risks
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, which is why discussing job site risks is crucial.
At the start of each day, bring your crew together for a toolbox talk and group stretch. Take a few minutes to discuss all the possible hazards involved with the project at hand. The last thing you want is a group of uninformed employees who could be a danger to others or themselves.
Hold workers accountable by reminding them that they’re each their brother’s keeper. Additionally, remind them to be alert at all times and follow necessary safety checklists.
Additionally, be sure to implement drug and alcohol policies to prevent your employees from being impaired while on the job.
Involve upper management
In addition to your regular toolbox talks, the topic of safety should be communicated from the top of your organization by executives who feel personally invested in the well-being of your employees. If workers feel you and upper management truly care about their well-being, they’ll be more likely to embrace safety practices with a positive attitude.
Additionally, employees should feel like they are part of the solution when it comes to safety. This means they should feel comfortable with bringing safety concerns or questions to upper management. As leaders, be responsive in order to build employee trust within your business.
It’s also important that you set safety goals for your workers and keep them informed on industry safety codes and requirements.
If any workers express negativity toward your safety mission, address their behavior right away as this can be poisonous to your company’s safety culture. Remember, unwillingness to improve is a sign of trouble.
Additionally, instead of making safety changes after an injury or incident has occurred, take steps to avoid incidents before they happen. This involves researching the risks that are common with your particular job site.
Hold regular safety events and training sessions
Construction Safety Week occurs annually in early May and is a prime opportunity for you to revisit the topic of safety with your crew members. Of course, there is no bad time or place to discuss safety.
Hold safety training sessions, bring in safety vendors, deliver safety handouts and hold safety giveaways – anything that will help educate your workforce on this very important topic. You can even invite their families, which will extend the topic of safety to their homes.
All in all, it’s crucial that workers refresh their safety prowess regularly through fun and engaging educational opportunities.
Enforce rules and track incidents
For safety rules to be effective, they need to be enforced. Part of this involves reviewing near-misses after they’ve occurred to find out what went wrong. This will help you and your crew improve safety procedures for the future.
Your employees should also be encouraged to report injuries and near-misses. Have an investigation system in place that they can easily navigate.
Reward safe behavior
While there are times when you’ll need to bring down the hammer, it’s important to remember that people respond to positive reinforcement. Be sure to celebrate safety milestones and recognize employees who set a good safety example for others. For instance, if one employee reminds another to wear safety glasses when cutting material, give kudos.
Testimonials from trusted safety champions are powerful, and by highlighting their safe behavior, you’ll help promote a positive safety culture on the job site. You can also put up a poster that tracks the number of days without a lost-time incident.
Additionally, creating a safety committee or hiring a safety manager can really up your crew’s safety game. And don’t forget, simply saying thank you goes a long way, so let employees know that their efforts to work safely are appreciated.
Your workers will adopt a safety culture – if they believe in it
Ultimately, it’s up to you to lead the way when it comes to safety on the job site. Show your workers how much you care about them and they’ll be more likely to buy into your safety culture.