Safety Best Practices

Managing Safety Documentation: Tips for General Contractors

Emily Lundh @Emily
Safety & Compliance
0 min read
January 29, 2024

Construction sites are dynamic environments with inherent risks. Effective safety documentation isn’t just paperwork; it’s a lifeline in ensuring the well-being of our construction teams. As general contractors, your commitment to managing safety documentation is pivotal for compliance and risk mitigation.

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Understanding Regulatory Requirements

Construction sites are dynamic environments with inherent risks. Effective safety documentation isn’t just paperwork; it’s a lifeline in ensuring the well-being of our construction teams. As general contractors, your commitment to managing safety documentation is most important for compliance and risk mitigation. You want to make sure everyone on your site, not just your crews, but your subs as well, make it home safely!

Understanding Regulatory Requirements

Construction is tightly regulated, and adherence to safety documentation mandated by OSHA and other relevant authorities is non-negotiable. OSHA, for instance, requires comprehensive documentation of incidents, safety plans, training records, and equipment maintenance. Staying informed about evolving regulatory standards is crucial to maintaining compliance. Whether your governing body of safety is OSHA in the United States, or CFCSA in Canada, upholding compliance with these bodies and their guidelines is necessary to stay in business!

Establishing a Comprehensive Safety Documentation System

Centralization is key. A robust safety management program should include incident reports, detailed safety plans and procedures, training records for every team member, and logs for equipment inspections and maintenance. This ensures that all necessary documentation is easily accessible and organized. Most companies have moved away from paper by now and found solace in purpose-built compliance software that do the organizational work for them.

The mobile app is easy to work with for the field and the same goes for the web app for admins - both are plenty powerful.
Connie Saltel, Health and Safety Manager @ O’Connor Electric

Utilizing Technology for Documentation Management

Embrace the digital era with construction safety software and safety management apps. These tools streamline documentation processes, making it efficient and accessible. Compliance software enhances your capability to manage documentation remotely, ensuring that safety is not compromised, even when teams are dispersed. Especially when working with different subcontractors everyday, it is important to keep organized and offer a central spot for all your subs to submit their records.

Training Personnel on Documentation Protocols

Your team is your frontline. Training them on documentation protocols is as crucial as any other safety measure. Incorporate documentation procedures into onboarding programs to ensure consistency and accuracy across the board.

Periodic Audits and Reviews

Regular audits are your proactive check against compliance pitfalls. Use the data provided by compliance software to conduct thorough reviews. Identify areas for improvement and adjust documentation protocols accordingly. It’s a continuous process of refining your safety documentation strategies. Once you start doing internal audits, it will greatly prepare you for those external visits and COR audits.

Ensuring Accessibility and Transparency

Accessibility is synonymous with usability. Implement secure but easily accessible cloud-based solutions. This ensures that stakeholders, regardless of their location, have access to real-time safety documentation. Transparency is key to fostering a safety culture. While evaluating your next compliance software option, ask for testimonials or to be put in contact with current users to make sure their crews find the platform to be user-friendly.

The subcontractor dashboard is the first place I start my day. I look at who is active, where their form submissions are at for the day - then I identify any irregularities and prioritize what I need to focus on for the day
Rebecca Zavaglia, Health and Safety Coordinator @ Broccolini

Collaboration with Subcontractors and Stakeholders

Construction is a collaborative effort. Establish clear communication channels for safety documentation with subcontractors and stakeholders. Coordination is so important to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding safety protocols and documentation procedures. Without a centralized system, your sub management will be all over the place. It’s hard enough to keep your own crews in order without a system, but managing hundreds of subs is near impossible without a subcontractor management system.

Managing safety documentation is not just about meeting regulatory requirements; it’s about creating a safer work environment for everyone involved. By prioritizing compliance, embracing technology, and fostering a culture of safety, general contractors can lead the way in ensuring that construction sites are not just productive but safe havens for their teams.

Establishing a Comprehensive Safety Documentation System

Creating an effective safety documentation system requires more than just good intentions; it demands a robust safety documentation system. Let’s explore the intricacies of establishing such a system, breaking it down into essential components:

A. Centralization for Efficiency

Unified Platform: A centralized system consolidates all safety documentation into one accessible platform. This includes incident reports, safety plans, training records, and equipment logs. This unified approach eliminates the inefficiencies of scattered information.

Easy Retrieval: Having a central repository ensures quick and easy retrieval of crucial documentation when needed. Whether it’s for an audit or to address a safety concern, efficiency is key.

B. Incident Reports

Thorough Documentation: Each incident, regardless of severity, should be documented comprehensively. This includes details such as the nature of the incident, involved parties, corrective actions taken, and preventive measures implemented.

Root Cause Analysis: Going beyond the surface, a robust system encourages a thorough root cause analysis. Understanding why incidents occur is instrumental in preventing their recurrence.

C. Safety Plans and Procedures

Customization: Safety plans should be tailored to the specific characteristics of each construction site. This customization ensures that the safety measures outlined are practical, relevant, and effective.

Communication: A well-documented safety plan is not just a document; it’s a communication tool. It should clearly convey safety expectations to all team members and stakeholders.

D. Training Records for Competency

Comprehensive Training Programs: Develop training programs that cover not only the basics of safety but also the specific risks associated with each project. Document attendance, content covered, and assessments.

Ongoing Training: Safety is a continuous learning process. Document ongoing training efforts to keep all team members updated on the latest safety protocols and best practices.

E. Equipment Inspections and Maintenance Logs

Regular Inspections: Document regular inspections of equipment to ensure they meet safety standards. Include details such as inspection dates, findings, and actions taken.

Predictive Maintenance: A proactive approach to equipment maintenance involves documenting not just past inspections but also planning for future maintenance needs. This predictive element minimizes downtime and reduces the risk of equipment failure.

F. Ensuring Accessibility and Security

Cloud-Based Solutions: Implement secure but easily accessible cloud-based solutions. This ensures that authorized personnel can access documentation remotely, fostering collaboration and transparency.

Data Security Measures: Prioritize data security to protect sensitive information. Implement encryption, user authentication, and regular backups to safeguard against data breaches or loss.

G. Continuous Improvement

Feedback Mechanisms: Establish feedback loops to gather insights from the field. Input from frontline workers can identify gaps in documentation or suggest improvements in safety protocols.

Data Analysis for Trends: Use analytics tools within safety management programs to identify trends in incidents or areas where safety measures can be enhanced. Continuous improvement relies on data-driven insights.

Establishing a comprehensive safety documentation system is an ongoing commitment to the well-being of construction teams. By centralizing information, customizing plans, integrating technology, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, general contractors can create a safety documentation framework that not only meets regulatory standards but actively contributes to a safer and more efficient construction environment.

Collaboration with Subcontractors

In the intricate tapestry of construction, collaboration is the linchpin that binds together various stakeholders, each playing a crucial role in the overall safety of the project. Effectively managing safety documentation requires a concerted effort and clear communication with subcontractors and stakeholders. Let’s explore the nuances of this collaborative endeavour:

Fostering a Culture of Collective Responsibility

Inclusive Safety Meetings: Include subcontractors and stakeholders in regular safety meetings. This not only enhances their understanding of safety priorities but also fosters a sense of collective responsibility for the overall safety of the project.

Recognition of Contributions: Acknowledge and recognize the contributions of subcontractors and stakeholders towards maintaining a safe working environment. This positive reinforcement encourages a culture where everyone feels invested in safety.

Addressing Unique Safety Considerations for Each Trade

Tailored Communication: Recognize that different trades within the construction industry may have unique safety considerations. Tailor communication and documentation efforts to address the specific needs and challenges of each trade.

Collaborative Risk Assessment: Conduct collaborative risk assessments with subcontractors to identify potential hazards specific to their tasks. This proactive approach ensures that safety documentation is finely tuned to the intricacies of each trade.

Ensuring Accountability in Collaboration

Clearly Defined Roles: Clearly define roles and responsibilities concerning safety documentation for subcontractors and stakeholders. This clarity ensures accountability and helps avoid ambiguities that may lead to oversights.
Periodic Check-Ins: Conduct periodic check-ins to assess the adherence to safety documentation practices. This proactive approach allows for timely corrections and adjustments as needed.

Collaboration with subcontractors and stakeholders is not merely a necessity; it’s a strategic approach to fortify the foundations of construction safety. By fostering open communication, leveraging technology, addressing unique considerations, and building a culture of collective responsibility, general contractors can create an environment where safety documentation becomes a shared commitment, leading to safer and more efficient construction projects.

Using SALUS for General Contractor DOCUMENT Management

Hundreds of General Contractors rely on SALUS to manage their documentation from their subs to internal workers. Embracing construction safety technology is a transformative step for GCs seeking to streamline and enhance the management of safety documentation. Tools like SALUS provide a centralized platform for organizing incident reports, safety plans, training records, and equipment logs, ensuring a holistic approach to documentation.

Construction safety software not only simplifies the documentation process but also enables real-time updates, allowing immediate access to critical information for all stakeholders and partnering with SALUS is more than just having a safety software provider. They understand the challenges of safety in the industry, the impact it has on our bottom line and success, all while recognizing the hierarchies at work.

See Salus in Action

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