The importance of maintaining a safe construction site cannot be overstated. With millions of people employed to work in this industry, establishing a culture of safety will be critical to employee well being and your bottom line.
Poor safety standards on a construction site could result in fatal injuries and a delayed/failed project. Furthermore, frequent accidents can cause a spike in operational costs, a damaged reputation, and extensive legal consequences (such as additional fines, project limitations, etc.). This is why safety should be a critical component of your daily operations.
The good news is that you can implement simple steps towards mitigating on-site risks, keeping workers safe, and boosting productivity. A secure construction site will also help you cut down operational costs and attract more clients.
But how can you begin to enhance safety in the workplace? Here are 10 steps to get you started.
The most effective way of improving safety on site is by emphasising safe practices on a daily basis. This means being driven by workplace and employee safety standards- rather than prioritising profits or production timelines. Companies in the past have sacrificed safety for profits- only to end up facing costly lawsuits and downtime in the process.
Your company should always follow a safety-first approach. View your employees as your core assets, and make sure they're working under secure conditions at all times. You should also take any accident seriously even when no one is injured.
Keep detailed records that will help you identify safety loopholes on the construction site. Furthermore, stay up to date with industry guidelines, publications, and best practices for putting safety first.
Safety on the construction site is a collective responsibility. Everyone should be aware of the steps necessary to avoid risk and respond to emergencies. However, you can only establish this level of awareness by training your employees. Safety training is an on-going process that helps you adhere to current industry standards, and ensure operations run safely and smoothly on site. Therefore, make sure all employees are trained thoroughly and regularly.
To get your employees on-board, you can consider providing incentives for completing training sessions. A pay raise, extra time off, and promotion opportunities will entice reluctant workers to pay more attention to critical safety standards.
Thanks to modern technologies, advanced construction equipment can help you improve worksite safety. Machine learning, automation, and robotics are all being used to help reduce the level of risk that workers are exposed to. For example, drones can be used to access tight spots and survey dangerous areas before construction work begins. You can also use wearable technology (such as Fitbits) to keep track of employee movement, heart rates, and other vital information.
Construction management software can also be used to plan and coordinate a project from start to finish. This includes mapping out the risks your workers might face- and determining how such risks can be avoided.More importantly, using proper tools and equipment can help you minimise risks on the construction site. Workplace equipment is a collective term that refers to many different tools and technologies. Your equipment should cover the following aspects:
This comprehensive list will help you ensure that you’re prioritising high safety standards at all times.
All personnel should also have the equipment they need to fulfil their responsibilities. For example, helmets, wearable technology, and safety jackets are a must-have in today’s construction sites. But to be even more competitive, you need to keep up with the latest trends such as smart tools, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality. These innovative technologies can help elevate your safety practices and significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents.
Accountability is the only way you can truly achieve safety on site. When every employee understands that they have a role to play, you'll be less likely to experience accidents and other mistakes during your project.
Accountability begins with making every employee familiar with their duties and responsibilities. Clearly state all safety-related procedures that your staff should follow, and have a system in place for providing feedback, and having that feedback actioned.
Proper planning and communication are critical during any construction project. Communication allows your employees to clarify what they don't understand while collaborating to identify and avoid risks.
To begin with, your workers need to have an awareness of daily workflows with regards to safety. From timely reporting to proper documentation, every employee should know the specific role they play within your company. Train your work teams so they can possess the required skills, and hold regular meetings to encourage timely feedback.
You can help improve communication by purchasing tablets, smartphones, or other similar devices that enhance real-time communication. This will make it easier for you to coordinate activities, call employee meetings, and even implement training programs.
Finally, employees should have access to the information they need without undergoing complex processes. More specifically, they should be able to communicate with management so as to air out any concerns they may have (particularly with regards to safety). Develop policies for enforcing and regulating clear communication in your construction company.
Your workplace safety plan should also include steps that help prevent accidents. For example, regular inspections are critical in identifying potential hazards and monitoring workplace conditions.
Inspections should fall under the umbrella of risk assessment. By definition, a risk assessment is the process of analysing your risk environment to determine where you stand with regards to safety. You can use risk assessment to identify loopholes and avoid exposing your workers to construction site risks.
Furthermore, you should ensure that you inspect the work site before and after daily duties are completed. Such inspections will help you identify any dangerous tools that have been left behind. You can also locate unstable work platforms and damaged equipment that may cause further risks to employees.
A common mistake many companies make is ignoring their employees when setting safety guidelines. Remember that your staff will be on the front lines of implementing critical safety practices. You can engage them by setting up a committee with representation from all parties (learn more about WHS committees here).
This safety committee should consider perspectives from all stakeholders when policies are being discussed and formalised. Update your safety guidelines regularly to reflect the evolving needs and concerns of all your staff. When employees understand the importance of maintaining a secure working environment, they'll be more likely to adhere to safety guidelines and practices.
You should also include several workers in your emergency response team. These employees should be trained on first aid response and detecting potential hazards in real-time. With workers forming a critical part of emergency response, they'll be more likely to recognise why safety guidelines are important on-site.
Proper documentation is also a critical component of your overall safety plan. You should document multiple aspects of your daily operations, including previous accidents, licensing from local municipalities, and certifications. Cloud technologies and modern software have made documentation much easier to accomplish. You can now automate many data collection workflows and fill out the relevant forms faster than ever before.
A detailed document trail enables your company to establish a culture of accountability. You can also avoid costly litigation by proving that you had appropriate guidelines in place as specified by law.
If an accident occurs on-site, be prepared to document what happened- and the steps you've taken to prevent the same incident from happening in the future. This will not only improve your standard of safety, but you'll also be able to attract top talent during recruitment. Prospective employees would want to know that they're working for a company that puts their safety first.
Speaking of recruitment, another way of improving safety on site is by hiring top talent. If your team consists of unqualified workers, you'll be more likely to experience accidents during a project. Set clear expectations for your prospective employees during recruitment, and train those who may need more experience and knowledge of specific situations.
You should also screen your candidates by calling previous employers and references. Does the candidate take instructions seriously? Do they pay attention to detail? These qualities will help you ensure that the people you hire adhere to safety policies on site.
Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways we learn. You can use this practice on your construction site by rewarding positive behaviour. For example, workers who always attend training sessions, wear protective equipment, and report potential hazards in the workplace should be rewarded accordingly. Use these employees as an example to others, and don't refrain from providing feedback to those who ignore critical safety practices.
Many employers shy away from correcting workers who go against the established safety guidelines. Because turning a blind eye could potentially result in life-threatening accidents, take proactive steps towards correcting wrong behaviour.
Construction site safety should be an essential part of your company's operations. It starts with instilling a safety culture and implementing specific steps towards avoiding risks on site. By considering the strategies outlined above, you'll be on the path towards maintaining a safe, productive, and profitable construction company.
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