In this blog series we’ll be looking at safety in the construction industry. Construction is one of the most danger-prone industries there is – responsible for approximately 1 in 5 workplace fatalities. How can construction companies successfully create a safety program and achieve buy in? We’ve spoken with industry professionals Steve Mellard, National Safety Director at Anning Johnson and Desire’e Ropel, Safety Manager at Hermanson to get an insider look into how to manage safety in the construction industry.
Previously in our construction safety series, we discussed ways to increase employee buy-in to your organization’s safety culture. In this post we’ll take a look at the top 7 safety issues currently facing the construction industry – and how you can overcome them.
1. Workers Need Proper Tools & Equipment
It can be surprisingly common for workers to start a job without proper tools and equipment, particularly if they are quickly switching between tasks. Your organization’s safety program should emphasize that workers should never start any job (no matter how small) without all of the required tools and safety equipment – accidents only take seconds to happen.
2. Continuous Safety Training is Necessary
Laws and policies surrounding safety in the workplace are constantly changing, and a number of factors can change safety policies – including new laws and standards, incidents, new equipment and new projects. This means that safety training is not a one time thing! Conducting regular safety training to teach new safety practices, as well as to reinforce old ones, is crucial to a successful safety management program.
3. Tracking For Compliance
While your organization may have a robust safety program in place, it won’t be fully effective if proper tracking for compliance is not implemented. Your organization needs a centralized system to ensure procedures are being followed. (If you’re looking for a solution to manage and report business risk, compliance, and performance metrics easily, Certainty Software is here to help!)
4. The Safety Practices of Contracted Organizations
Working on a large construction project can often mean that general contractors and sub-contractors are also sharing the job site. Safety issues can arise if those companies have less than desirable safety cultures. Management should ensure that any contractors present on the job site are abiding by the organizations safety rules and procedures, as well as following company policy on tracking for compliance (see #3 above).
5. Prioritizing Safety, Along with Schedule and Budget
Being on-schedule and on-budget are the bottom line of any construction business. Before standardized safety regulations, many workers were constantly put at risk due to an emphasis on speed and budget. However, these days it’s known that a healthy workforce is also a cost-effective workforce. The total cost of fatal and nonfatal injuries in the construction industry is estimated at nearly $13 billion annually. Safety needs to be considered as an equal to schedule and budget.
6. Having an Aging Workforce
Most studies suggest that injuries are less frequent but more severe among older construction workers. Data shows that worker compensation costs increase with the age of workers, in part due to greater lost work time per incident. Organizations can mitigate this risk by adapting the workplace to fit the needs of older workers. This can be done by using lighter tools and materials as well as emphasizing ergonomic working practices.
7. Poor Habits and Resistance to Change
Poor habits from previous work places can be difficult to shake. This may be especially present in new employees who haven’t yet adjusted to your safety culture. Very experienced workers can also be resistant to change and may think “we’ve done it this way for 20 years, why does it need to change now?” Continuously reinforcing the safety program, and offering rewards for change will help make sure all workers are on the same page when it comes to safety.
In the next blog in our series on construction safety, we’ll discuss the #1 safety issue in construction as told by top safety management leaders.
Other blogs in this series you may be interested in: