How To Improve Construction Site Safety Plans
Everyone in the workplace has a responsibility to work together to get the job done. For many people, this means little more than putting in a full day and giving their best effort during business hours. In the construction industry, however, “getting the job done” can be a matter of life and death. This is why construction is one of the most challenging industries in which to work. When mistakes are made in an office environment, the repercussions usually remain on paper. On the jobsite, however, errors can have real, physical consequences beyond the loss of productivity. The threat to life and limb means everyone involved on a construction site bears the burden of keeping it safe.
This is why having a safety plan in place is one of the most important elements of any construction operation. No matter if you are a site manager or a laborer, you have an active role to play in establishing and enforcing best safety practices every moment of the workday. Even if your company has a plan, there are always ways to improve it. There is no detail too small to include, and even the tiniest improvement can be a lifesaver. With that in mind, here are some tips you can use to make your next project a safer one for all.
Build a Culture of Accountability
When it comes to safety on the jobsite, every person, from the CEO to the laborers, has to be on board and invested in it. This means you have to cultivate an environment in which everyone is empowered to point out unsafe behavior whenever it is seen. Likewise, holding each individual accountable for how his or her actions impact the rest of the site promotes an atmosphere in which safety is taken seriously.
Emphasize Training and Reinforcement
It isn’t enough to simply write a safety plan and post it where workers can see it. Education is a crucial element of the process, and it must be continually reinforced. Training new hires on proper procedures should be a main focus of your onboarding. Once trained, taking the time to review the safety practices during daily “toolbox talks” can keep them fresh in your crew’s minds. Many times, the reason a worker engages in unsafe behavior isn’t laziness or ignorance. It may be a matter of forgetting or misremembering the correct way to perform a task.
No matter how well-intentioned your safety plans are, they won’t amount to much if you haven’t put the proper forethought into your operations. If your people aren’t provided with the appropriate tools, for example, it can lead to the improper use of equipment that might not be made for the task at hand. Other potential problems that can result from poor preparation include failing to have staging areas properly marked. One of the most essential elements of any safety plan should be ensuring that all workers have the necessary safety gear for their jobs, including hard hats, gloves and boots. Taking the time to organize your safety strategy ahead of time could not only keep your operations as efficient as possible, but it could also help prevent accidents that can result from miscommunication and confusion.
Don’t Set It and Forget It
When it comes to safety procedures, one of the costliest mistakes a builder can make is assuming he or she has everything set. Complacency can be extremely dangerous because jobsite conditions are always changing. Just as employees should be drilled on safety tactics regularly, managers and decision-makers should review them often and revise them if necessary. Believing that the plan you already have in place is “good enough” introduces a greater probability that an accident may occur. On the other hand, when you treat your plan as a living document that can evolve over time, you stand a much better chance of catching unexpected risks before they have an opportunity to hurt your people.
Take Advantage of Technology
There are a number of tools available to contractors and construction workers today that can make a tremendous difference for your safety protocols. For instance, there are a number of smartphone apps that can be used to track workers’ positions on the site as well as their current activity. Many of these apps also come equipped with “panic buttons” that can send instant alerts to the entire workforce whenever an unsafe situation occurs. Wearable technology such as GPS-enabled vests or wristbands allow one to track a worker’s heart rate and skin temperature to prevent exhaustion or heat stroke. The use of drones to monitor sites also is becoming more common. Drones enable managers and foremen to get a bird’s eye view of a project and identify any potential problems in real time. Many builders also have recognized the value of virtual reality and augmented reality as training tools. These systems allow workers to practice operating heavy equipment without putting themselves or others at risk.
No matter what safety procedures your company has in place to keep jobsites safe, there is always room for improvement. Nothing is worse than knowing that an accident could have been prevented, especially if it results in a serious injury or fatality. You count on your co-workers to do their jobs and be productive. You also should be able to depend on them to help keep the jobsite and one another safe. Whether you’re getting ready to start a new project or in the middle of one, having a safety plan in place is a critical step in creating a safer site and getting the job done.
Author Bio: Kathy Hopper is Director of Marketing at YAK ACCESS, which encompasses YAK MAT, NEW SOUTH and BluRoc. Hopper, who has been with the company for more than three years, is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of upstream and downstream marketing efforts.