When you think about construction, you probably think about physical work, with large equipment and machines, big spaces and buildings and long hours. In many instances, you wouldn’t be wrong. These are all aspects of the industry that can contribute to injuries. While an injury in an office might be limited to a paper cut, injuries on a construction site can go from minor to life threatening, in moments.
In a previous post on the OE blog, Dave Ruddy (safety consultant) had this to say about safety:
“Focusing on safety is as important as focusing on craftsmanship, quality and production.
My sincere desire for 2019 is that each employee would be strong enough to say no to unsafe work environments, that each employer would be diligent in providing each employee the knowledge and tools they need to conduct their work in an efficient and safe manner and that safety professionals would be encouraging to employees and employers.
Safety is not about compliance, safety is all about the human desire to accomplish a common goal while performing work efficiently and safely.”
With that in mind, now is probably a great time to review the best practices that will contribute to a safe work environment and mitigate the number of injuries happening in the construction industry.
Training is top of the list
From a new worker to someone who has been doing a job for years and has become a little lax about standards, ongoing training is a necessity. It’s not a ‘one and done’ scenario.
Even if the hazards may be more or less the same from project to project, there is value in reiterating the importance of safety standards, equipment requirements, processes and procedures several times a year.
Simple awareness of the hazards that exist or might develop on a project are worth reviewing before anyone steps foot onto the site. If each person on site knows what’s possible and what to do to mitigate the possibility of accidents, they each contribute to the overall level of safety. That helps every site worker to stay safe and aware!
Communication is vital
Accidents happen when communication falters. If a worker doesn’t know where they need to be at all times, and what they need to be doing, they could easily end up in a situation that is dangerous. A daily reminder of the schedule of activities and easy, efficient communication methods, such as smartphones, can go a long way to preventing accidents that come down to a lack of communication.
Part of communication is ensuring that there is someone in a supervisory role at all times who embraces the importance of safety for everyone on site. This kind of thinking trickles down: if the top levels reinforce the importance of safety in their actions as much as their words, that will allow all levels of workers to feel comfortable maintaining safety standards.
Documentation is a subset of communication standards that must be met. Whether it’s permits for the project, or proof of certification for specialized roles on the site, having the right documentation isn’t just about legal protection. It’s about ensuring the safety of everyone who works on a project too.
Finally, communication has to include a component of transparency. Covering up an accident can only lead to downstream difficulties. Everyone who has anything to do with construction knows that accidents do happen, but it’s better to share the knowledge learned from a situation than try to sweep it under the carpet. Best practices develop when flaws are revealed, discussed and dealt with in the light of day.
Take care of equipment too
Accurate and ongoing maintenance of all machinery, as well as ensuring that every person on the field has what they need to do the job they are supposed to be doing, including attire, materials and equipment, is a fundamental aspect of safety.
Planning ahead to ensure that workers are provided with what they need on site, including water to prevent dehydration, a place to get out of the elements to prevent exposure related issues or masks when there are airborne particles that could result in inhalation illnesses are all part of the equipment protocol that are best part of a preventative plan.
Technological innovations will help with site safety over the longer term, with machines taking over some of the tasks that might be less safe for people, ensuring that the humans on the project have the data they need to perform their jobs in a relatively secure environment. In the meantime, maintaining a commitment to best practices for safety in construction is the clearest way to achieve as near to a zero accident rate as possible. OE Construction is committed to this way of operating and we look to all of our colleagues and industry partners to join us in that!