It isn’t enough to put up posters that say safety first. It won’t work if management isn’t actually putting safety first and empowering employees to do the right thing. The best way to protect your construction workers is to build a culture of safety so that it flows from the top down and is reinforced at the ground level. Let’s learn how to build a better safety culture in construction.
Ensure That Safety Really Is First
Ensure that safety really is the first priority. Don’t let managers put profits or schedule pressures ahead of worker safety. If people want to stop work to resolve a dangerous situation, support it. Discuss the benefits of safety first to managers and supervisors. For example, accidents lead to costly unplanned delays and cost overruns. Accidents will raise insurance costs and could take key personnel away from the work site for weeks while they recover. Hold everyone accountable. Everyone who visits a job site needs to be responsible for safety. This means managers touring the site must be informed of the safety rules and follow them.
Train, Train, Train
One of the best ways to create a culture of safety is to continually train regarding safety. Training cannot be a one-off event, whether it is a once a year safety lecture or safety training that occurs when they’re hired.
Ongoing safety training in how to use personal protective equipment ensures that they don’t forget how to use it the right way. Don’t assume that years of experience means they can operate all types of safety equipment. Train everyone on how to use any safety equipment on the worksite. Ongoing safety training ensures that they know how to use the latest versions of personal protective equipment properly. It also eliminates the risk that the prior training they had from another employer may not be good enough.
Ongoing safety training also reinforces best practices and keeps safety at the top of their minds. Companies like ZOTA Professional Training offer online training to help people learn about worksite safety and can get people certified to work in areas like lead paint remediation.
Get Front Line Workers Involved
These are the people who are at the greatest risk of injury. They must be included in safety initiatives to be invested in the outcome. Create a safety committee that includes construction workers, not just managers. Have them review the safety program and give advice on how to update it.
Create job site-specific safety plans for each project in the pre-construction phase. They’ll help you identify potential hazards unique to that site and ensure that everyone is properly trained for dealing with it. This also allows you to know that you’ll have all the necessary safety gear available and staged before you start working.
Include them in the drafting and implementation of corrective action plans to be followed when an accident occurs. Give everyone the ability to order a work stoppage when there are unsafe conditions. Put employees who are working on-site on the accident response team. And train a number of employees in first aid. This will not just show that you’re invested in their well-being but has the practical result of giving people the appropriate medical attention as soon as possible.
The best way to protect your team is to have a true safety culture. This requires far more work than safety slogans, but it is worth it to your people and the company’s bottom line.