Safety Best Practices

Combating Worker Fatalities on Construction Sites

Shannon M Farley @sfarley
Safety & Compliance
5 min read
September 24, 2021

No issue is of greater concern to construction firms than worker accidents and fatalities on site. Construction site fatalities are a chronic and recurring issue in the industry, especially in sites without proper regulation or safety measures. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,333 construction workers died on the job in 2019. That’s around 15 deaths a day, and more than 100 per week. OSHA’s stats for the same period are equally alarming, with construction accounting for about 20% of worker fatalities.

Hazards are unavoidable in a construction site, owing to the nature of the work sometimes. But a hazard is not the same thing as a risk. Responsible companies do everything they can to minimize risks by accurately evaluating hazards and applying appropriate preparation and safety measures. Safety software can be a game-changer in this area, helping construction companies take the guesswork out of preparing and maintaining proper measures at all times. If your construction company wants to improve its safety performance, the right software and a few general guidelines can do wonders.

Conduct Risk Assessments to Prevent Potential Accidents

An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure, as the saying goes, and a company that can prevent an accident is in far better standing than one that has to respond in the wake of one. That starts with risk assessment. A risk assessment is an honest and factual evaluation of all the hazards on a given site, and how they will affect the safety of workers. The better your construction firm can conduct risk assessments, the more readily it can prevent serious incidents or fatalities on site.

A good risk assessment must answer three basic questions:

  1. What are the safety hazards on site?
  2. What are the risks and how large are they?
  3. What are the most effective ways to reduce those risks?

Identifying on-site hazards requires a comprehensive evaluation of a site, and all its potential dangers. For example, operating heavy machinery is likely safe if qualified personnel do it. But those without training or experience could constitute a greater risk if they were permitted to take the controls. Similarly, bad weather or other changing circumstances may render previous safe sections of the site more dangerous. Anticipating hazards allows you to put a plan in place to address them when they arise.

Conduct Regular Equipment Maintenance Checks

Equipment failures account for a number of preventable construction site accidents and fatalities, even when handled by experienced personnel. That’s why regular maintenance checks are so important on every construction site. These checks allow management to detect breakdowns and other problems before they occur, and enact appropriate countermeasures. When applied routinely as a matter of company policy, they can contribute immeasurably to a site’s overall safety.

Regular maintenance can also significantly improve your bottom line. Small problems with equipment can become much bigger and more expensive if left undetected, and a lack of maintenance can shorten the operating life of a given piece of equipment considerably. Regular tune-up and inspections can alleviate much of that. They can also lower ancillary costs, such as insurance. The right software can do wonders in setting and keeping a reliable maintenance schedule—not only can they provide scheduling and reminders, but they can also help organize and collate pertinent paperwork and inspection forms.

A company that adopts a culture of safety will find implementing safety protocols far easier and more cost effective than a company that adopts safety only when and where it needs to.

Nurture a Culture of Safety

It’s one thing to adhere to a schedule or a specific set of tasks. But a company that adopts a culture of safety—making it a core value, and approaching every project with safety as a priority—will find implementing safety protocols far easier and more cost effective than a company that adopts safety only when and where it needs to.

Safety culture is a matter of recognizing your team’s skills, as well as the hazards and concerns they face. A few general guidelines can help apply those assets to a company’s safety culture efficiently!

  • Prioritize Safety. Nothing should be more important than safety, to the point of accepting delays or work shutdowns rather than putting employees at risk.
  • Apply It Routinely. Make sure daily safety inspections and regular maintenance checks are built into all schedules as a matter of course.
  • Include Training Time. Regular safety equipment and protocol training will pay dividends when a real emergency happens.
  • Involve Workers. Your employees can make valuable resources in addressing safety concerns. Get them involved, and reward them for participation.
  • Transparency and Accountability. Everyone should know who is responsible for a given safety protocol and what the procedure is for filing a concern. Total transparency is important, as is both rewarding good protocols and disciplining lax behavior.

Prevent Construction Site Fatalities Using Salus

Digital solutions can play a vital role in both establishing a strong safety culture in your company. A good safety app can automate numerous functions that used to be conducted by hand, letting you set, maintain, and adhere to safety training, maintenance, and inspection procedures. It provides transparency, as that your entire team can access the information they need quickly. With clarity for your whole team and the ability to update information in real time to address new facts on the ground, you can make every site as safe as possible.

If you’re looking for a way to better manage your company’s safety program, check out Salus. Salus’s safety software can handle asset and compliance management tasks, digital forms, and accountability features, as well as subcontractor portals and tailored content to match your needs. Digital solutions like Salus can make a world of difference in the construction industry. Reach out today to schedule a demonstration!

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