Key improvements to construction safety

Construction is a high-risk industry, one that involves careful attention to detail and strict adherence to regulations on behalf of both businesses and workers in order to lower rates of accidents and injuries.

Unfortunately, workplace safety remains a sticking point for businesses in construction. In 2015, 1 worker death out of every 5 occurred in construction, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. To tighten the focus on what demonstrably improves workplace safety, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) put together an informative list of 13 proven steps to improve construction worker safety.

Those interested in the full list should feel free to peruse it, but we’ve condensed the spirit of the checklist down to a few core principles:

Get everyone involved, from temps to executives

Safety cannot happen without cross-functional collaboration. Temporary or seasonal workers must understand and apply everything OSHA compliance entails, as must full-time staff, supervisors and even C-suite leaders.

Sure, each of these rungs might have a narrower or wider scope when practicing safe workplace actions. Rank-and-file construction workers govern themselves and hold their immediate co-workers accountable, whereas supervisors oversee what stands in the way of strong adherence to OSHA guidelines and upper management sources training modules that pass along necessary skills to trainees. No job is too big or too little. Safety is the great equalizer.

Deploy clear, project-based training with group discussion

Safety orientation ought to be distinct from standard orientation undergone upon hiring. And while businesses may abridge standard orientation practices to onboard temporary or seasonal staff quickly, they should cut no corners for safety modules administered before workers can operate in the field.

Each training session should have a discrete goal that challenges employees to engage with the subject of safety, using industry-specific examples of common hazards, how to identify them and how to avoid them. Instead of acting like a professor at a lectern, supervisors who lead training sessions should encourage workers to offer personal insights and ask questions without fear of retaliation.

Create an accepting culture of safety

Speaking of fear, safety cannot prosper in an environment that, whether actively or passively, discourages workers from using their training. If staff members believe the business will react negatively to, say, stopping site activities to check a possible safety issue, they will not act as advocates for safety.

As an example of what to do instead, check out the AGC “stop work card” method that grants every worker the ability to suspend work if he or she believes the proper precautions haven’t been taken.

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