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How Good Communication Can Make Your Job Site Safer

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Did you know one in five worker fatalities in the private industry in the calendar year 2019 was in construction? For the United States’ 11.4 million construction workers, job-site safety is one of their top day-to-day priorities. In addition to simply providing safe working environments for their employees, construction companies may need to meet the safety standards recommended by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a regulatory agency of the United States Department of Labor. OSHA penalties for safety violations may range from $13,000 to $136,000 or higher.

Poor jobsite communication is the most cited reason for the lack of safety at workplaces. If companies don’t address the communication issues between the internal departments, they may lose millions of dollars in penalties, compensation claims, and missed working days of injured workers.  Considering the growing importance of communication at the workplace, we’ll review how good communication can make job sites safer. 

Good Communication during Shift Handovers

Handover periods—when one shift of workers leaves the site and the next shift arrives—account for 40% of events and workplace injuries. The most workplace injuries happen when there is a miscommunication between the shift workers. Today, most companies work in three shifts to complete projects on time. The first shift may need to communicate about the potential hazards to the second shift workers during the shift handover; this cycle can run repeatedly until the project ends. The goal of shift handover, according to Eshtoday, an American occupational safety and health magazine, is to transfer responsibilities and communicate critical information that plays a crucial role in safety and work continuity. Companies can significantly improve job site safety if employees communicate critical information about safety without fail during shift handovers.  

Companies need to start from the top and implement good communication initiatives to make job sites safe. A few initiatives that could improve the safety of workers are:

  • Capture the information about possible hazards at the workplace
  • Hold employees at the workplace until the shift handover is complete
  • Communicate critical information about potential hazards at the job site
  • Deploying a communication tool that captures important information before the shift handover, including the work that has been completed in the shift, potential hazards, and incomplete tasks

Good jobsite communication is a two-way and reciprocal process. The reciprocation makes the communication complete. To increase safety at the workplace, companies should ensure that the employees read and acknowledge emails and shift handover messages. This practice increases not only safety at the workplace but also accountability among the workforce. Since accountability ensures that the employees take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, the error rate would be reduced. Over 80% of serious workplace injuries and accidents happen due to human error. 

Jobsite Communication Flows and Reporting Structures

The pressing concern for most companies is that employees send information to the wrong person. Good jobsite communication is all about sending the right information to the right person. Sending a safety report that captures the information about actual and potential safety deficiencies to an operational-level employee who joined the organization a couple of months ago may not help in addressing safety issues. The safety report must be sent to safety teams, engineers, and top management who may analyze the situation and make appropriate decisions to improve the safety standards. 

Companies may need to develop appropriate communication flows and reporting structures for every aspect related to workplace safety. In many companies, employees don’t know how to and who to report safety issues. This situation arises due to a lack of proper communication flows and reporting structures. Companies that implement good communication policies repeatedly share information about safety hierarchy and ‘safety first’ guidelines and safety protocols to employees through emails, notice boards, project communication platforms, and team meetings. This information guides employees to report safety issues to a relevant authority without any delay. 

Industrial Strength Communication Tools

According to OSHA, construction companies can save up to $6 on every $1 invested in safety programs. To improve workplace communication, companies should invest in industrial-strength communication tools that can streamline project and team communication. An appropriate jobsite communication tool can bring all communication flow from all teams to a centralized place and provide real-time updates. 

Reliable jobsite communication tools help companies send the right information to the right people. They can also give a warning or an alert to concerned people when information about a potential hazard is captured. Communication tools allow companies to control who are all need to be alerted when such information is captured. For instance, Hivot, an industrial-strength communication tool, helps construction companies to isolate conversations based on their nature. For example, a conversion regarding a potential hazard at the job site may be distributed to entire project team members because it affects everyone involved in the project. Since tools like Hivot automate critical communication workflows, the information about the potential hazards will never get lost in the shuffle.

The Final Word

Job site safety can be increased significantly if companies implement good communication practices. Companies may also need to establish communication flows and reporting structures that enable employees to report serious safety issues at workplaces to relevant authorities. It is good to establish communication rules for shift handovers as they are causing more workplace injuries. Investing in industrial-strength jobsite communication tools that streamline critical communication at job sites would solve all the safety-related concerns of construction companies. 

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