Dodge Data & Analytics recently conducted a study for the Center for Construction Research and Planning, in which contractors were asked the same question about a series of very specific practices. The results of this study were originally published in the Contractor Use of Safety Best Practices SmartMarket Brief.
The study showed that the industry certainly has a long way to go when it comes to implementing important safety regulations and practices, even though there have been significant improvements over the years. The four safety practices outlined below are things every organization should implement in order to keep workers safe.
Manage Hazards Preemptively
The study conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics found that larger companies—whose annual revenues are $100 million or more—tend to utilize safety best practices more frequently than smaller companies. One particular category in which larger companies consistently perform better, is advanced hazard planning. The study found that midsize companies found this challenging. Only 28% of them said that they believe their company handles advanced planning like they should. Similar trends can be found in the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries and in materials-handling best practices.
Nearly all contractors from large companies (86%) said that they formally plan for how materials will be handled, while only around 63% of small and midsize contractors said the same thing. It’s up to the contractors to draw upon their experiences with previous projects, formally plan for materials handling, and effectively communicate this information with their employees.
In addition to the lack of formal planning, very few companies in the study—of any size—reported that they review how materials were handled after the project is complete. Without this final step, there’s no way to improve planning for the next project.
Online Safety Tools
A great opportunity to improve jobsite safety can be found in online tools. They provide useful training materials and general information for improving safety in all kinds of different ways. In this study, participants were asked how frequently they use six of the most common online tools—Stop Construction Falls, Choose Hand Safety, CPWR’s Construction Solutions database, and the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health. CPWR’s Work Safely with Silica and Create-A-Plan tool was the most used, but even still was only used by under half of the participants. The rest were used by fewer than one quarter. The study did show, however, that these websites were valuable to those who used them. Most were rated as having a moderate or higher value for improving construction site safety by more than 70%. This significant gap between the percentages of contractors using these tools and the percentage who found them helpful suggests that using these resources could help contractors create a safer jobsite for their workers.
Make sure that every worker understands the safety goals and parameters of the project they’re about to be working on. One of the most effective ways to do this is to provide health and safety mentorship to subcontractors.
Dodge’s study found that this was not a common practice at all. In fact, only 58% of the large companies do this. Among the small and midsize companies that felt this practice actually applied to them, only 29% and 35% respectively reported that they provide safety mentorship.
Most smaller firms included in the study said that they wanted printed materials related to jobsite safety and health hazards, as well as toolbox training resources. The desire is there—companies of all sizes need to figure out how to better implement mentorship.
While lean construction isn’t technically a safety practice, its goals of eliminating waste and improving processes are often supported by enhanced leadership and communication. These qualities are essential to enhancing jobsite safety as well, not to mention safety is a key performance indicator of success for most lean projects. Because they go hand-in-hand, it’s an important thing to consider.
Most contractors in Dodge’s study said that they were at least familiar with lean construction, but only 21% said they implement lean procedures on a regular basis. Those with a high familiarity were found to be more likely to strongly agree that the relationship between foremen’s safety leadership skills and the construction site safety climate is strong.
The ability for on-site leadership to actively engage their workers in improving processes is an important part of a lean construction practice and will, in turn, make for a safer, more productive jobsite.
Evaluate your own business! How many of these safety best practices are you implementing? What could you and your team improve on? How can you improve today? Answering these simple questions and starting the process of improvement will only benefit you and your workers in the long run. Need help? Contact Southern Field-EEC today for more best practices and how to incorporate them into your business!