Did you know the private construction industry of the United States reported over 1068 fatalities in 2019? Construction companies give high priority to workplace safety to:
- Avoid hefty penalties from regulatory bodies.
- Provide a secure environment that boosts employee productivity.
- Reduce the employee turnover rate.
Jobsite safety is the responsibility of not only employers but also employees. If construction managers and operational-level employees don’t follow safety precautions, it is impossible to reduce work-related injuries and fatalities. Considering the growing importance of workplace safety, we’ll identify the top ten safety tips that every construction manager should know and implement.
1. Create a Safety Manual
A safety manual is a collection of information, safety policies, procedures, and instructions that enable the creation of a safe workplace. The manual may also provide guidelines on using tools, machinery, and chemicals to keep the workplace safe. For instance, the safety manual of a construction site may educate workers about Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, rules for fire extinguishers, emergency action plans, and personal safety rules (wearing guards and no substance abuse).
2. Efficient Internal Communication
Efficient internal communication can boost workplace safety. Most workplace accidents happen due to miscommunication between shift workers and internal departments. The construction manager should streamline internal communication and create appropriate workflows or communication structures. The construction manager may focus on implementing an industrial-strength communication tool that:
- Makes sure the communication from all departments flows through a centralized place.
- Captures real-time information and sends updates to all teams/team members.
- Establishes communication rules for shift handovers.
3. Regular Maintenance of Tools
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the six leading causes of workplace deaths is equipment malfunctioning. Construction sites often use equipment such as cranes, bulldozers, excavators, ladders, drillers, and electric welders. Malfunctioning any of this equipment can cause a severe workplace injury or fatality. Periodic maintenance of this equipment is the only way the construction manager can reduce mishaps. For many tools, maintenance is scheduled once every six months. The construction manager should scrutinize maintenance reports of the third-party equipment before allowing them to operate at the job site. Most large-scale enterprises use asset tracking software to track the maintenance schedule and reduce occurrences of equipment malfunctioning.
4. Safety Training
Workplace safety training is as important as skill development and technical training. The safety training enables the workforce to recognize safety hazards and take action to prevent them. The safety training allows employees to understand best safety practices and develop appropriate behaviors. The construction manager may implement the safety training on the following occasions:
- Conduct safety training for the existing employees once a year.
- Ensure every new employee undergoes safety training before they work in a real-time job site.
5. Hold Every Employee Accountable
Accountability makes employees answerable for the tasks they do. Accountability and workplace safety go hand-in-hand. Accountability ensures employees take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their colleagues. At a job site, accountability triggers practices such as personal motivation, open communication, and co-worker support. For instance, an accountable employee takes the initiative to keep their area clean, put equipment in the right place, and communicate safety issues to the necessary supervisors. So, the construction manager should hold every employee accountable for keeping the job site safe.
6. Conduct Safety Meetings
A safety meeting is a gathering where the entire project team (all internal departments involved in the project) discusses the potential safety issues at the site and evaluates the possible solutions. The following are the steps a construction manager may follow to conduct safety meetings:
- Conduct preliminary analysis on the safety issues and risks involved in the project before deploying the team
- Conduct a pre-job safety meeting to come up with solutions for risks and safety issues identified in the preliminary analysis.
- If the project lasts long, conduct the safety meeting once every six months
The safety meetings enable the entire team to understand the potential safety issues at the site and take appropriate steps to address them.
7. Reward the Good Behavior
There is no better motivator than a reward. When workers display appropriate safety behavior, the construction manager should reward them with financial and non-financial incentives. A non-financial reward, like an appreciation letter, boosts morale and motivates them to stay consistent with the safety guidelines. The construction manager may also consider punishing the bad safety behavior of workers. Punishments, like giving a verbal warning followed by a written warning, may force workers to follow safety guidelines and develop appropriate safety behaviors.
8. Conduct Daily Site Inspections
Multiple people work on a construction site every day. It may be difficult for the construction manager to track who is touching which equipment at the site. There may be role overlaps and role interferences due to various unknown reasons. A daily site inspection may come to the rescue of the construction manager at this juncture. The daily site inspection may need to focus on checking the following aspects:
- Is the site free from fall and trip hazards?
- Is the first aid kit fully stocked?
- Are all tools and equipment there at their respective places?
- Are ladders set up in the right position?
- Is the protection equipment in good condition?
The project manager may also include other vital aspects in the daily site inspection that play a critical role in enhancing safety.
9. Proper Visitor Documentation and Tracking
Outsiders may not know how to handle equipment and tools at the construction site. Most construction sites cannot restrict visitors if they are the stakeholders of the project. For instance, the building owner may want to visit the site to assess the progress of the work. Sales executives may visit the site to meet the construction manager to discuss the requirement of raw materials. Proper documentation of who is visiting the site and tracking what they have done during their visit help the construction manager to enhance the safety of employees.
10. Writing Checklists
Checklists play a vital role in enhancing job site safety. A checklist is a list of tasks to be done or considered. Most construction managers create checklists to let employees maintain consistency in executing day-to-day tasks. Every task at the construction site should have a clear checklist. Every worker may need to fill the checklist template when leaving the job site. Checklists are useful when the work is done in shifts. The construction sites that operate in three shifts should make checklists mandatory. The checklists filled by the first shift workers may give an idea about the safety aspects of the job site to the second shift workers. The major task for the construction manager here is to create the checklist templates for each task/worker and make sure that the worker fills it with proper knowledge and conscience.
Jobsite safety should be the top priority for the construction manager. A safe job site is where employees feel secure and contribute to higher productivity. The top ten job site safety tips offered in this article are proven to deliver results. Communication, documentation of safety issues, and information flow are playing a critical role in enhancing job safety. Implementing a communication tool that eliminates most of the safety issues by streamlining internal communication may be an essential move for modern construction companies.