Every year, more on-the-job fatalities through accidents happen at construction sites than any other place of work. In 2016, one out of every five deaths on the job were in the construction industry, and much of that is not only because construction is an inherently dangerous profession; it’s also because sites aren’t as safe as they should be.
Since construction sites can be found in virtually any industry – after all, the only requirement is that you need to build something – every organization needs to have an awareness of proper construction site safety guidelines and how to implement them. This ensures that everyone on the site is protected from harm to the greatest possible degree.
Following some standard – even common-sense – suggestions can help make every construction site a safer one.
Create a Culture of Openness
Companies invest a lot of time and money in creating tangible safeguards for their personnel and equipment, but before you buy the latest, safest piece of equipment, or put your managers through another round of training, you should work to implement the most basic of suggestions: the right culture.
A safe culture is an open one in which workers aren’t afraid to speak up about a potential hazard or a safety issue. In the military, safety is drilled into every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine from the time they step foot into basic training. You are expected to speak up promptly and loudly whenever a safety issue is present – because the military understands better than anyone that lives are at stake.
In the private sector, though, the mindset is often one of silence and “keeping your head down” so you don’t run afoul of management and cause a disruption that can slow down timelines. The truth is, though, that good management understands how a safer environment is better for everyone in the organization in the long run.
Work on creating a culture in which safety is a priority – even the main priority over everything else. You want your workers to work hard, but you want them to be safe, too. And, you should know that an unsafe working environment takes a toll on your workers’ productivity and morale. So, adopting a safe culture is best for everyone.
Encourage people at all levels to speak up if there’s a safety issue, and reward those who do.
Plan and Prepare Properly
Many construction site injuries are caused by a lack of planning or preparation, especially before a project begins. Too many managers and planners treat safety as an afterthought, instead of something that must be developed well in advance.
Have guidelines and processes in place before the first shovel of dirt is filled. Know what zones need to be blocked off, and what dangers and hazards will be present on the site. Make sure adequate types and amounts of PPE and tools are on site and readily accessible. Come up with procedures to follow on a regular basis that will keep your workers safe. And drill your workers on workplace safety well before the project starts.
Also, as part of preparing the site, you’ll be able to distribute warning and caution signs throughout the site, reminding workers of hazards and helping to keep them vigilant.
Finally, proper preparation helps guard against the most common cause of workplace injury and death: falls. Falls can be avoided by giving your workers access to proper safety gear; blocking off dangerous areas; and ensuring everyone knows how to safely navigate a site before construction begins.
Construction sites may never be completely safe, but they can be a lot safer than they are now – and they can become a lot less deadly, too.
Southern Field maintains vital equipment for the energy, pulp and paper, cement and lime, and steel and metals industries. Contact our team for more information on how professional, preventative maintenance can cut costs and risk – and save money.