Construction safety services programs must go beyond lagging metrics like lost workdays and workers’ comp costs. They must involve employees at all levels of the organization. Include daily planning meetings, huddles, or toolbox talks to engage workers and allow them to report hazards and concerns. Communicate that managers will listen to and address their concerns.
Identifying and Reducing Hazards
Hazard identification and reduction is an essential component of construction safety services programs. Identifying hazards, their causes, and how they will likely be addressed based on day-to-day activities and changing work environments is vital. Review the job hazard analysis (JHA) and determine the potential risks to workers’ health and safety in each process step. Check equipment, materials, and workspaces to ensure that hazards are not overlooked. Immediately correct any hazards that pose the most significant risk of severe physical harm or death. Select controls according to the hierarchy of eliminating or controlling hazards, starting with engineering solutions (elimination or substitution) followed by safe work practices, administrative control, and PPE. Incorporate safety equipment into project budgets to ensure that adequate resources will be available.
Identifying and Reducing Risks
A good safety program starts with identifying hazards and determining ways to control them. This can include installing safety equipment, engineering projects to install safeguards such as railings, and other administrative steps. It also involves investigating close calls and near misses to identify and address underlying problems that could lead to accidents and injuries. Top management must support the program by providing resources, assigning responsibilities, and training in a language and literacy level that workers can understand. Workers should also be able to communicate freely and openly about safety concerns and issues without fear of retaliation. This helps establish a workplace safety culture and improves worker participation in the safety program. This, in turn, contributes to better overall safety performance.
Developing a Safety Culture
Safety culture is a set of attitudes and beliefs that an organization’s employees share. A strong safety culture requires everyone to be engaged in the success of a company’s safety program. Engage workers in daily planning meetings, huddles, or toolbox talks focusing on hazards and control measures. This will help workers understand the importance of their participation in the success of a safety services program. Ensure staff can report any issues related to work tasks or equipment. Be sure to listen to their concerns and respond appropriately. Rewarding workers for reporting and following procedures will improve their safety habits. However, handing out demerits for safety lapses can lead to distrust and discourage workers from speaking up. Be sure to also reward for safety successes.
Developing a Safety Management System
A safety management system (SMS) is the framework within which an organization implements and manages occupational health and safety (OHS) regulations. A well-performing SMS can significantly reduce non-compliance costs, worker’s compensation, and insurance premiums and improve commercial efficiency. Developing an effective safety management system includes identifying, collecting, and managing relevant information. This process involves leading indicators, such as the frequency of safety training, the number and results of inspections and audits, the average time it takes to complete corrective action, and lagging indicators, like incidents and accidents. Using a digital system to collect and store these reports is vital. This makes it easy for the workforce to submit reports and helps ensure that the safety team has access to the necessary information to identify hazards and prevent future accidents.
Developing a Safety Training Program
Instruct workers on techniques for identifying hazards, such as job hazard analysis. Train them on the hierarchy of controls, which includes eliminating or controlling the most severe hazards first (e.g., machine guarding or a lockout tagout program). Establish an open-door policy for workers to communicate with managers about safety and health concerns without fear of retaliation. Please report to workers routinely and frequently about action taken on their concerns and suggestions. Consider implementing mobile and adaptive resources for on-the-job training. This approach is a more effective way to engage employees than five-hundred-page safety manuals that no one reads. Update training as project changes or new hazards arise. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, contractors reevaluated their online safety training to include instructions on safely using respirators and a list of emergency contacts in multiple locations.