Falls, electrocution, fires, slips, and trips… Constructions sites are inherently dangerous. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports that the construction industry has a disproportionately high rate of recorded accidents compared to other sectors, finding that 2.8 million worker deaths are reported globally each year, with more than 6,500 fatalities recorded every day. As well as the legal and social ramifications, workplace accidents can have severe financial implications too.
In the US, the construction industry comprises about 6% of the total workforce. However, it accounts for 17% of all work-related fatalities. And while the hazards of the job are equally distributed across all construction sites, the rates of accidents vary. Sites that place emphasis on strong safety culture, (including the active participation of construction safety officers) often report lower safety incidents.
Safety regulations, for example, dictate that each worker fill out multiple safety forms to confirm two things. First, workers must declare that they are in a state of good mental and physical health, meaning they are able to carry out the tasks assigned to them. Second, they will need to sign off that they have read, understood, and agreed with the safety guidelines covering the work process.
Companies that are firm on compliance often deploy construction safety officers to ensure all workers have signed off before even touching a tool. In contrast, companies that adopt a negligent approach often report serious accidents occurring on their sites.
A construction site often hosts a number of different groups of workers that have different areas of expertise. When something goes wrong, and in order to protect itself, one group will, more often than not, call out other groups as the cause.
Playing the blame game is a natural reflex and a common occurrence on construction sites when accidents occur. Workplace accidents can be attributed to poor design, substandard materials, lack of coordination, or insufficient manpower. Once these factors get eliminated one by one, the buck stops at the construction safety office. When the workplace becomes unsafe, it’s the responsibility of the construction safety officer to make it safe again.
The problem with the blame game, though, is that it doesn’t inspire trust or confidence. A culture of blame often results in a growing aversion to reporting incidences. Workers will instead cover up problems and hide any findings. Blaming often takes the place of learning. The need to find the guilty party will trump the desire to understand why accidents happen.
Instead of pointing fingers, share responsibility from the outset. Rather than finding fault in others, focus on developing accountability. This way, everybody understands the work process better and all parties will respect and trust each other. This approach will further ensure a realization among all workers that a robust safety program depends on the cooperation of all units. This includes compliance with all safety procedures, instilling a strong safety culture in the process.
This shared responsibility should also include construction bosses. Many project owners pass on the responsibility of safety to the contractor due to it being an operational concern. However, owners who take an active lead in determining the safety direction of their sites will see their investments generating greater returns, in tandem with a growing and glowing reputation.
The old adage: “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure” has never been more relevant than in construction. This begins with a proactive construction safety mindset. This means adopting a proactive rather than a reactive outlook.
Construction safety, ultimately, is all about providing workers with a safer working environment. And in doing so, the processes to get them compliant should not hinder them from performing their actual work.
Requiring workers to manually complete forms before starting shifts is tedious and inconvenient. In most cases, construction safety officers will require each individual to report to the safety office to fill out safety forms after which they’ll be allowed to proceed to the assigned worksite.
Why not digitize the way your firm manages its safety programs? Salus, a leading provider of construction safety software, offers a dynamic digital solution that can help boost safety compliance among your workers. Our suite of digital tools gives you the confidence to quickly address issues and track corrective actions using real-time data, reporting, and notifications.
No need to march to the safety office to comply with safety requirements, no need to manually write down the information requested, no need to handle physical forms or sign printed forms. Our cloud-based application can be accessed anytime, anywhere using company-issued devices such as internet-enabled tablets, laptops, or smartphones to handle these tasks and more.
To learn more about how Salus can help make your construction sites safer and more compliant, get in touch with our team today. We’ll be happy to set a meeting and arrange a free demo.