Safety Best Practices
Long hours, exposure to the elements, and physically demanding tasks make construction a challenging and dangerous environment to work in. With a fatality rate nearly three times higher than the national average, construction consistently ranks among the top five deadliest industries in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The most effective way to deal with accidents is to prevent them from happening in the first place which is why the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues to push for accident prevention programs.
Traditional approaches to health and safety are typically reactive, meaning they’re ineffective. New directives are published or independent inspection teams find a problem that must be fixed only after a worker is injured or becomes ill. OSHA’s recommended practices take a proactive path to manage workplace health and safety. Detecting and dealing with hazards before they cause injury or illness is a far more effective (and sensible) approach.
The main goal of health and safety programs is accident prevention to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. OSHA’s health and safety guide is a step-by-step approach to ensure a healthier and safer workplace built around seven core elements. While the emphasis is very much on preventing accidents in the workplace, OSHA’s health and safety program yields other benefits, such as improving compliance with laws and regulations and significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums.
A safe job site is a productive job site. Fewer accidents boost worker morale. This, in turn, leads to raised productivity, greater efficiency, a faster turnaround time to complete projects. In short, everybody benefits from a safer work environment.
What safety measures are necessary, how to understand them, how to implement them? Each of OSHA’s core elements helps ensure that all stakeholders are involved in making health and safety programs a success.
Company leaders set the direction in achieving organizational goals, playing a critical role in directing resources to reach business objectives, including accident prevention. Through words and actions, the leadership sets the tone that teams follow.
When developing health and safety programs, leaders must:
A consistent, positive, and, encouraging tone is essential. Successful programs reward rather than punish workers who raise issues or concerns. Disciplinary measures should only come into play when a manager or worker refuses to cooperate or hinders progress.
Although employers have a responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, they cannot do it alone. Worker participation is the cornerstone of an effective accident prevention program. Your workforce has insights about hazards in their immediate work areas. After all, they face potential hazards more frequently than supervisors. Successful programs tap into this valuable knowledge base.
Contractors, subcontractors, temporary staff and suppliers should all be involved in developing, reviewing, and improving the health and safety program for it to have maximum effect.
This involves collecting and reviewing information about accident triggers that can likely affect the work area. A good safety program should outline a routine that takes in regular checks of work areas and equipment to detect potential hazards.
Your workforce must be involved in hazard identification and assessment. They are the ones best equipped to know the sources of these hazards and what caused them in the first place. Depending on your location and materials used on-site, state agencies along with the Environmental Protection Agency and OSHA may require additional measures for emergency plans. Ensure your procedures comply with these.
The next step is to address these hazards by placing controls that can help in mitigating potential accidents which can result in loss of time, money, and even lives. Doing so sends a powerful message to workers that management remains committed to its accident prevention programs.
It’s essential to solicit workers’ input on the feasibility and effectiveness of your hazard control plan before deciding on any control measures. Collect, organize, and review information with workers to determine what types of risks may be present, where they are located, as well as which workers are most at risk.
Training not only gives detailed instruction on how workers should perform their tasks, but also relays the procedures for correctly identifying, reporting, and controlling potential hazards before anybody gets hurt.
Education and training are important tools to keep workers and managers alive to the dangers posed by workplace hazards. These processes provide workers and managers with greater insights into the health and safety program itself. This gives workers a better understanding of how these programs work to raise workplace health and safety standards.
The health and safety program will require continuous evaluation to determine which parts work and which areas need intervention. This involves sharing the results of the assessment and asking for their input on how to make it better.
When workers are actively involved, it helps them understand the process better, empowering them to implement safety measures effectively in the workplace. When employees understand the importance of implementing control measures, this ultimately reduces workplace accidents.
The point of establishing a health and safety program is to ensure the well-being of the entire workforce. Without clear communication and smart coordination, the program will fall flat.
Effective communication and coordination among all employers means that before coming on-site, contractors and staffing agencies must ensure their workers are aware of:
A well-communicated and well-coordinated health and safety program means investing in resources that ensure workers get the information they need, quickly, no matter where they are.
Managers and employees are important partners in any program to control occupational hazards. Safe work environments are more than just compliance with OSHA requirements. They require a commitment to safety from all stakeholders.
Communicating with workers in remote locations can be a difficult task. But with cloud software, you eliminate the distance factor when dealing with documentation requirements from far-off construction sites. Salus safety management solutions are built for the construction industry and allows the sending and receiving of digital forms and compliance documents between sites so workers can focus on their work.
It means safety officers can require remote workers to sign off on training and policy forms without leaving the worksite. Workers can complete their assigned compliance management and inventory reports and send them to their supervisors immediately over the cloud, safely and securely. It’s that simple, and it’s that convenient.
Learn more about how safety documentation and compliance just got easier. Get in touch with our team and discover how Salus can help raise your construction safety standards now.