Construction Safety Week: 3 Small Things Your Company Can Do to Mitigate Jobsite Risks
Construction is a dangerous job, with potential injury around literally every corner—especially when work is really moving. Accidents and ailments like falling, tripping and slipping, airborne materials and disease, and electrical incidents are just a few of the most common ways that construction workers can be hurt on the job.
Contractors are well aware of what a lack of safety measures can mean for their business and their projects: Increased costs, delayed projects, and more workers’ comp claims. With the COVID-19 pandemic waning, and in celebration of Construction Safety Week, we thought we’d take a look at construction site safety in a post-COVID-era and focus on just a few key ways to keep your employees, projects, and bottom-line safe.
1. Start with Government Guidelines—and Improve on Them
The government takes construction safety seriously; protecting your employees from serious harm can mean protecting your business from serious consequences.
In understanding regulations by government bodies like the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), contractors have a baseline of the rules and procedures they must follow. But safety is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Instead, contractors should focus on following the baseline government guidelines—which include standard topics like fall protection, trench safety, personal protective equipment, etc.—and improve on those guidelines to fit your unique business and employee needs.
For most contractors, jobsite safety almost always goes beyond required government trainings, but it’s important to create a consistent culture of safety where corner-cutting and ignoring potential issues is frowned upon. More on that later.
2. More Off-Site Building & Better On-Site Communication
One of the newer trends in construction management address both safety and efficiency: The growth of modular construction and prefabrication, which are becoming industry standards. While these methods are shown to reduce waste, 89% of those who’ve adopted the practice say it has demonstrated safety benefits for their workers and business.
It makes sense: Doing the most dangerous assembly tasks away from the live job site can remove hazards and reduce the incidence of injury. It has the added benefit of creating social distancing—a benefit for those who are still unvaccinated or have high-risk health issues on the job site.
Meanwhile, on-site communication has certainly changed over the prior two years—and now businesses are recognizing the benefit of holding daily safety huddles along with project timeline walkthroughs. Construction technology has also improved to provide better health and safety insights, offering supervisors and field teams the power to use mobile apps and connected, real-time data to identify and act on potential issues before they become significant problems. Communicating these issues on-site can be a difference-maker.
3. Develop a Culture of Safety
Jack Cain, the director of health and safety for Encore Electric, says that construction safety must start at the top of the organization—and that senior leadership must be committed to making it work.
“From the beginning, our company’s leaders—from our president through field leadership—have put together a culture where any employee who sees something that is not safe is encouraged to speak up and stop work,” Cain wrote in a contributed blog post for Trimble Viewpoint. “Employees are commended for pointing out that a condition is unsafe or recommending doing things a different way. We back each other up. We’re accountable to each other.”
Striving to incorporate real process changes that improve worksite safety must be a cultural development for businesses. Cain recognizes that even Encore Electric isn’t perfect—but the company believes that it is never ok for an employee to be injured on the job, and they put in place measures to help keep safety top of mind for everyone.
“We want every one of our 850 employees to work safely and go home not just injury-free, but better than when they go to work in the morning,” Cain said.
Construction Safety ROI: Commitments Can Make a Difference
For construction businesses like Encore Electric, creating a return on their safety investments have not been difficult. The company reduced injuries by more than 50% over its last 10 years, saved millions of dollars in potential workers’ compensation payouts, and were able to utilize nearly a million labor hours that would have otherwise been lost to safety-related incidents.
That translates to money saved, labor time put to good use, and more projects completed on-time.
Enhancing Safety Practices with Modern Construction Management Technologies
Today’s construction management processes require a holistic approach that incorporates every major component of work on the job—including safety monitoring and record-keeping. Construction teams need real-time data as well as historical safety data to make real change and measure progress.
Data-heavy and visibility-reliant safety trends are easier to manage and implement with a strong technology foundation. A connected, cloud-based construction management suite like Trimble Construction One not only replaces legacy workflow processes that can contribute to safety mishaps,it gives your project teams the real-time data, workflows and collaborative tools needed to run smoother, more efficient projects-including better tracking of safety processes and workflows.