Workplace safety is a constant iterative process, which always needs to be updated and monitored to ensure proper compliance.
According to data from OSHA, there were 4,764 workplace fatalities in 2020. Through the fiscal year 2021, the number one cited OSHA violation was fall protection from construction sites.
In fact, half of the top 10 most commonly cited violations were from the construction industry, with the other five belonging to general industry.
It’s no secret that construction zones can be incredibly dangerous, especially if poorly managed. Not only do workplace incidents come with major financial liabilities, but they also derail projects, harm human lives, and destroy your workplace culture.
Developing a construction safety plan is the first step to addressing this issue. However, you can implement several construction safety management tips right now to improve your worksite safety.
1. Enforce Strict Education Standards
Creating strict safety protocols is not enough if your workers do not follow or understand these rules. To improve workplace compliance, you need to implement more rigorous safety courses and educational standards.
For example, any worker who arrives at a site should be properly credentialed or certified to work and given a proper brief of all pertinent safety protocols related to their duties.
In general, workers should have sufficient knowledge of the following protocols to operate safely on your worksite:
- Use of proper PPE
- Understanding of reporting methods
- Awareness of activities or locations that are off-limits
- Equipment inspection routines and requirements
- Basic knowledge of identifying and handling hazardous/flammable materials
Make training and education an ongoing process, occasionally reinforcing your worker’s knowledge with educational videos, training seminars, or impromptu quizzes on worksites.
2. Create Workplace Safety Incentives
Unfortunately, one of the biggest barriers to worksite safety buy-in is inertia. Overcome this inertia by creating rewards for workers who attend safety meetings or advance along safety training.
Offering small financial incentives and position advancement can help drive more workers to prioritize safety in their own personal development.
3. Optimize Your Reporting Procedures
Reporting systems may be the bane of your workers’ worksite, but they are very effective at cutting down on unsafe practices.
Update workplace safety and incident reports to make them anonymous and offer constructive feedback to help workers who violate safety procedures.
Encourage others to report workers they find violating basic safety codes by promoting the anonymity and benefits of your system.
4. Provide Workers with the Right Equipment
This point should seem obvious to every construction zone manager, but proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is a must.
Some examples of required PPE include:
- Face protection
- Foot protection
- Hand protection
- Safety nets
- Masks or respiratory protection
- Sanitation stations
- Safety belts
- Eye protection
5. Keep Worksites Clean and Tidy
Encouraging proper cleaning procedures is a must in any work zone. Clutter, debris, and loose equipment can be potential hazards, especially to workers operating heavy equipment and machinery.
Make it a process to clean up after every shift so that workers keep workspaces clean and free of intrusive clutter.
6. Create an Emergency Response Plan
Creating a separate emergency response team or leader will help your worksite react more swiftly to emergencies like fires, chemical spills, or extreme weather events.
After the COVID pandemic, it should be clear to all worksites that emergencies and special events can strike at a moment’s notice and throw your entire construction zone off kilter. So create safeguards to protect your workers and equipment from catastrophic damage with an emergency response plan.
7. Set Up Hazard Controls
Again, utilizing proper PPE and workplace safety protocols will help you cut down on workplace hazards.
However, there are some specific incidents we wish to highlight that could easily be mitigated with proper hazard controls:
- Falls from ladders or high equipment: Use proper PPE equipment, including body harnesses and ropes, to break the fall.
- Falling or collapsing material: Know when to identify potential hazards and wear hard hats to any construction zones.
- Excavation hazards: Create proper slopes and benches to shield workers from potential calamities while excavating fresh trenches with loose soil.
- Electrical hazards: Creating proper tagging/lockout systems and using proper PPE helps reduce electrical hazards.
- General health hazards: Basic gestures like giving workers breaks, ear plugs, and proper eye equipment can help cut down on largely avoidable injuries.
8. Inspect Equipment Before Use
Daily site inspections by designated workplace safety leaders will help identify hazards and reduce workplace incidents.
In addition, workers should be properly trained on equipment inspection protocols before using any equipment to reduce their risk of injury.
9. Implement More Toolbox Talks
Toolbox talks are informal meeting sessions that can be used to promote new safety tips and camaraderie among your team.
Sometimes these meetings can be challenging, especially if you’re conducting toolbox talks for Spanish-speaking trades or any other language. However, establishing clear lines of communication will ensure your crew is on the right page when it comes to proper safety procedures and general workplace goals.
10. Make Safety a Core Cultural Value
Incorporating a greater emphasis on safety through continuous training, communication, and toolbox talks will shift the overall culture of your worksite to reflect those values.
It’s very easy for workers to become sloppy without proper oversight or leadership. So shift the dialogue on your worksite toward safety and responsibility to gain the best out of your workers.
11. Balance Safety with Budgets and Scheduling
Construction managers have the unfortunate job of ensuring projects are met by their intended deadline and budget. For this reason, it’s easy to see why corners may get cut from time to time.
Nevertheless, construction managers must balance these concerns with worker safety, as workplace incidents can be a massive drain on your time and financial resources.
12. Create Check-In Processes with Safety Reminders
Worksite visitors should also be subject to the same rules as workers on your worksite. Create check-in processes with proper safety training and education to ensure visitors are properly protected while on your worksite.
13. Create Strict Rules for Contractors
Contractors who come and go from your worksite should arguably be placed under even stricter protocols than general workers.
However, it’s important that contracts are also well-versed and trained on proper safety protocols before entering a worksite. Again, creating sign-ins with safety reminders and materials will ensure they receive proper training and help you avoid outside liabilities.
14. Implement More Technology
Leverage technology, like scannable QR codes, to ensure that only certified workers are allowed to access certain equipment and that visitors who come and go from your worksite are properly tracked.
Construction management software can also help with this, especially when it comes to reporting, budgeting, and tracking worker progress.
We’ve even seen some construction managers use drones to conduct daily inspections.
15. Lead By Example
Finally, construction managers need to lead the charge of promoting workplace safety by following the same protocols they preach. This means always wearing proper PPE, conducting daily inspections, and leading periodic training sessions/toolbox talks with employees.
Work with your crew to implement these tips, and work with a safety plan development company to help you find ways to optimize existing safety protocols and implement new ones where needed. By making worker safety a core cultural component of your construction zone, you will see a sharp decline in workplace accidents and greater worker happiness.