Safety Management

5 Top Ways to Improve Your Construction Safety Culture

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Amandeep Beesla
Safety Insight & Innovation
5 min read
September 15, 2021

On-site safety should be the paramount concern of any reputable company in the construction business. Every new project has specific safety requirements that demand a great deal of time and resources to address properly. Yet the growing complexity of many construction operations and the added complications of COVID-19 have made the industry less safe overall. For example, a study from the Center for Construction Research and Training found that fatal falls climbed to over 25% in 2019, accounting for more than one in three (36.4%) construction deaths that year. Add the COVID-19 pandemic to just those startling fall numbers, and one begins to see how maintaining a safe working environment is both critical and challenging.

Prevention and planning are the best ways to combat these trends. A commitment to anticipating possible safety issues at upcoming sites, as well as concrete protocols on what to do in the event of an emergency, can work wonders. Of course, every company has its own way of doing things. But by applying the five following strategies to your operation, you can vastly improve your on-site construction safety record.

1. Make Safety One of Your Core Values

Safety procedures should be a part of every construction site, but going beyond simply prioritizing them can bring tremendous benefits. Making safety a core value—so ingrained in your company that it’s an expected consideration of daily operations—builds the advantages in automatically. In addition to the improved health and safety of your employees, it enhances your reputation among prospective and existing clients. This also ensures key steps like safety checks and inspections are conducted smoothly and efficiently every time.

Creating this kind of culture requires planning and forethought, and dedicated management to lead the way. Including safety in your company’s mission statement and going beyond the minimum required steps are a good start. But beyond that, it requires a strong plan that includes the following:

  • A measurable outcome of your safety plan, ideally in concrete statistics
  • Actionable steps to reach goals, including the conditions for advancing through each one
  • A clear chain of command delineating responsibilities during a safety situation and the expectations of each team member
  • Steps for double-checking and course-correcting, to help spot and address bugs in the plan
  • Transparency and clarity, to determine which areas need improvement and so team members can express concerns without hesitation
  • Regular implementation and practice across the entire business

2. Involve Workers in Safety

The health and safety of your team should be priority number one.

While management should take the lead on any safety measures, worker involvement is also critical in establishing a safety culture. The more involved they are in crafting safety policy, the more readily it will address their concerns—and the better they will respond to training, protocol chains, and other key steps.

This begins with site orientation, which should both encourage new workers to engage with the safety program and lay out all the details of the protocols involved. Transparency is also vital. Workers should be encouraged to report unsafe conditions and potential hazards, with a clear chain of command and procedure in place. Joint committees should have worker representation, and personnel should have the right to halt work if they feel it isn’t safe. The more ingrained such practices become in your construction company, the more employees will feel you are looking out for their safety.

3. Hold Workers Accountable

That responsibility cuts both ways, of course. Safety culture emphasizes not just the company’s role in the process, but individual worker responsibility as well. Many of the steps above can help accomplish that. For example, a worker within the safety management chain of command is accountable for all of the duties stipulated by his post.

There are a few general guidelines to accomplish this more readily:

  • Make sure your expectations for each team member are clear and understood
  • Determine who is responsible for what before work begins
  • Establish a tracking system to ensure inspections, safety drills, and other important tasks are completed
  • Reward success and efficient behavior

4. Training, Training, and More Training

Having a plan isn’t enough. Everyone needs to know what to do when safety is at stake.

Whatever plan you decide on for your company, it’s useless if your team doesn’t know how to implement it. This means safety training and certification—not just for new workers or at the start of a project, but as an ongoing part of how your company conducts business. Construction safety certification is an easy way to stress the importance of safety, and to ensure that your workers adhere to your plan. Certification can cover every conceivable topic, from fall protection and basic first aid to proper equipment usage.

Regular safety training and protocol drills will make a huge difference in ensuring plan details are followed properly. OSHA’s compliance protocols are a good jumping-off point, but schedule periodic refresher courses and devote time to them during the work day ensure that the habits they impart do not fade. Place a special emphasis on reporting unsafe conditions. Every employee should know the proper procedure to do so and be able to follow that procedure without concern. Regular training and practice will make that happen, helping your workers better adopt safety as a value.

5. Leverage Technology to Improve Construction Safety Culture

The best complement to your company’s commitment to safety culture is investment in safety technology. This includes features that automate and simplify your schedule, handling details like inspections and training courses while saving time and manual labor.

That’s where Salus comes in. Salus’ comprehensive software package provides the tools you need to ensure health and safety in all your projects. Features such as digital forms, automated task checklists, asset and compliance management apps to provide schedules and reminders, paper-based corrective action for transparency and accountability, and even a subcontractor portal to attend to dedicated matters with your partners automate key management functions to simplify your safety plan. If you want to consistently ensure a safe and healthy construction environment for your company, Salus is the tool for the job. Contact Salus today to book a demo!

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