Construction sites can be dangerous places. Whether you are working alongside a busy highway or constructing a residential or commercial building, there are lots of people and all sorts of heavy equipment around. In most places, job-related accidents and injuries are nuisances. On construction sites, however, they are often deadly.
As an employer, you are responsible for safe workplace practices. While there is always a risk of accidents, taking steps to ensure the safety of your construction team mitigates the risk and typically allows your workers to leave the site unharmed at the end of every shift. Here are a few tips for ensuring construction safety.
Make Sure Every Worker Is Aware of the Potential Risks
Awareness is an important first step in ensuring everyone’s safety. Before any worker sets foot on a construction site, he or she needs to be fully aware of all the potential risks that come with working on an active construction site. Teach them how to avoid those hazards and what to do if they notice a particularly dangerous situation. Building awareness leads to more knowledgeable and informed workers who can avoid accidents.
Train, Train, Train
Lack of proper training often leads to potentially life-threatening accidents. Many of a construction worker’s skills can be learned on the job, but safety isn’t one of them. Train all of your new laborers on standard safety procedures before they set foot on the job site. If you aren’t sure where to start, OSHA offers some excellent resources, including pamphlets, training videos and worksheets.
People sometimes get too relaxed about safety when they get comfortable with their jobs. Make sure all workers, including experienced employees, attend training sessions throughout the year to ensure their knowledge and skills remain fresh. This creates documentation which could prove useful if an employee is injured on site and tries to claim that they were unaware of the appropriate safety procedures.
Require the Right Clothing
Construction workers should always wear HiVisibility clothing. It doesn’t matter if they are working along the side of a busy highway or on a closed job site. Construction sites are busy, chaotic places filled with people, equipment and construction materials. Require your construction team to wear HiVis clothing to ensure employees can see exactly where everyone is at all times.
Also, make sure everyone uses proper safety gear at all times. This includes items like hard hats, protective gloves, safety goggles, and hearing protection. Outfitting all your workers with the right safety gear is vital for maintaining a productive workplace.
Make Clear Communication a Priority
Lack of communication is a leading cause of workplace injuries. When workers don’t know what to do or what to expect, they are more likely to make mistakes that could lead to accidental injuries. Ideally, you should equip your team with walkie-talkies, smartphones or headsets to allow for efficient and fast communication.
Encourage workers to reach out to you or a supervisor directly if they have any questions or concerns. Keeping an open line of communication is a simple step that can prevent a lot of workplace injuries.
Get Your Workers Involved
Create a safety team that includes members from all levels of your company. This team should be involved in reviewing and updating your safety procedures. They should also be tasked with creating specific safety plans for each construction site during the preconstruction phase of the project. Gather input from employees to create a corrective action plan that addresses what will happen when safety procedures are violated. Involving your team in the formulation plan makes them feel more invested and valued.
Develop an accident response team consisting of a few workers who have basic first aid training. Choose employees who know what to do in the event of an accidental injury. They should also know how to mitigate existing hazards after an accident occurs. When you involve your employees in creating, implementing and enforcing safety procedures, they are more likely to take safety on the job seriously. They are also more likely to reach out to you with questions or concerns if they already feel like their input is valued and will not fall on deaf ears.
Conduct Daily Safety Meetings and Site Inspections
Don't create safety procedures and then forget about them! At the beginning and end of each workday, inspect the site to detect and address any possible safety concerns. Check for damage to tools or equipment and other potential problems. Check in throughout the day, too, to make sure everything still looks good.
Before work starts each morning, hold a short safety meeting. Discuss the tasks that are scheduled for the day and the safety procedures that need to be followed. Acknowledge any good practices from the previous day and address any problems or mistakes. Allow time for your team members to ask questions or raise their own concerns. A quick meeting ensures that safety is at the forefront of everyone’s minds as they start their day.
The Bottom Line
Working in construction can be dangerous. Fortunately, by making safety your top priority, you can avoid accidents and ensure the safety of your construction team.
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