Safety Management

Improving Construction Safety Management

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Caitlin Liboiron
6 min read
March 30, 2022

Construction sites are notoriously susceptible to accidents, injury, and, even death. Most accidents occur because of complacency, lack of awareness, insufficient and siloed information. Was the worker adequately trained? Did they have proper safety equipment? Was there a lack of supervision? These are important questions that are best answered by an overarching construction safety management solution.

A solid construction safety management plan minimizes the risks of injury and illness, and saves lives. Having an all-embracing safety management system makes siloed information easily accessible. It further fosters a strong safety culture with everyone on the same page. When everything is consolidated on one platform, there is more accessibility, more transparency. Workers immediately know what the procedures are and where to go for the information they need.

Construction safety management further allows firms to meet their statutory requirements because everything is entered directly into a central system so you have complete oversight.

1. Collect and Review Information

Keep in mind to not just identify the hazards, but also the probability of those hazards injuring a worker, and how severe an injury could be. This allows managers to develop a better understanding of what hazards and risks exist and how they affect employee safety. “If you stop at the hazard, you haven’t identified the likelihood of it happening,” notes Georgi Popov, member of the American Society of Safety Professionals’ (ASSP) Risk Assessment Committee.

This entails comprehensive data on the types of injuries and illnesses that have already occurred, as well as on the hazards that currently exist. According to OSHA, the 6 most common hazards in the workplace are:

  1. Safety (heights, spills, electrical, machinery, etc.)
  2. Physical (UV radiation, Extreme temperatures, Constant loud noises, etc.)
  3. Ergonomic (Lifting heavy items, poor posture, etc.)
  4. Organization (Stress, Violence, Bullying, etc.)
  5. Chemical (Toxic liquids, gasses, fumes, etc.)
  6. Biological (Blood, bacteria, waste, etc.)

While several factors should be considered throughout the process, data gathering, according to the ASSP, comes down to four key components – analyzing previous injuries and illnesses, examining the work being done, how it is being done, and the hazards and risks associated with it.

If you stop at the hazard, you haven’t identified the likelihood of it happening.
Georgi Popov, member of the ASSP Risk Assessment Committee

2. Conduct Inspections of the Workplace

Workplace inspections are a key part of an effective injury-prevention program and need to be conducted regularly to identify any new or recurring hazards.

Workplace inspections enable you to assess the current state of your workplace and provide you with important pointers to enable you to identify hazards and control risk. A comprehensive safety management plan will focus on a range of inspections including machinery startup, departmental, and hygiene inspections.

The following can serve as a guide when conducting inspections.

  • Use a checklist.
  • Consider the different risks posed within each department.
  • Observe workers and note any unsafe practices.
  • Talk to workers and ask them about their health and safety concerns.
  • Consider other areas that you did not directly observe.

If you discover a hazardous condition, determine what caused it. Remedy unsafe work practices immediately; it’s a legal obligation. Communicate inspection findings to workers and ensure that relevant parties have access to the inspection reports and process. It is also worth re-visiting problem areas to check if solutions are being implemented as outlined.

3. Identify Health and Safety Hazards

Construction workers make up only 6% of the US labor force, but on average, the sector records more than 100 fatalities a week or about 15 deaths every day!

This disparity underlines the need for a sustained push to improve safety on the job for those shaping the communities in which we live, work and play. And that starts by identifying potential workplace hazards. Any hazard identification process should be a collaborative effort between employers and workers. If you fail to identify and control hazards, you are risking prosecution, lawsuits, and workers’ lives.

4. Analyze Collected Data

Group similar injuries and illnesses together to identify trends. Reference resources such as injury databases, OSHA logs, workplace audits and inspections.

The next phase of data gathering—and one of the best ways to learn about hazards and the associated risks—is by walking the floor, observing and speaking with workers about the hazards they face in performing their daily tasks. This can provide valuable insights into obvious and less obvious dangers that are present on the job site. Based on these, safety managers can prioritize and determine whether additional interventions are needed.

It’s important to gather insights not only on the hazards present in workers’ day-to-day functions, but also in nonroutine tasks they perform. These could help detect more serious hazards with a higher propensity for injury. Therefore, any and all hazards associated with nonroutine tasks should be identified during the data-gathering process.

5. Determine Corrective Actions

The first step is to mitigate or remove the direct cause of an incident. If you can’t eliminate the cause, the next alternative is to reinforce your processes to prevent them from happening again. Improving processes can encompass a wide range of areas, such as dialing up your communication processes, for example.

Another focus area in corrective actions entails training. These sessions should not be limited to educating employees on understanding health and safety protocols, but upskilling your staff to become more competent to better respond to emergencies and to think more critically to avoid incidents.

Raising awareness is also an important aspect of the corrective action process. Even if your workforce is trained to recognize the hazards they work with, warning signs are powerful reminders that keep workers vigilant. This can also take the form of newsletters and flyers to remind employees of health and safety best practices.

Spreadsheets and paper-based, corrective action systems leaves you vulnerable with a narrow trail for due diligence. With Salus, create a single source of truth for all disciplinary actions assigned and easily track follow-ups, quick responses, and proof of completion to close the loop.

Creating a Proactive Construction Safety Mindset

Construction safety is evolving, and improvements in equipment and adopting technology along with changed mindsets have helped push the industry forward. Still, a renewed and sustained commitment to safety remains essential given the number of preventable injuries and deaths in the construction sector each year.

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. Why not take a digital approach to manage your firm’s safety programs? No more trudging 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.

Salus is a leading provider of construction safety software that offers a dynamic digital solution that can help boost safety compliance among your workers. Our suite of digital tools—specifically built for the construction industry—gives you the confidence to quickly address issues and track corrective actions using real-time data, reporting, and notifications. 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 site safer and more compliant, get in touch with our team today. We’ll be happy to set a meeting and arrange a free demo.

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