How to Create a Culture of Safety in the Construction Industry
“Safety starts from within” isn’t just an old adage. It’s actually truer today than it’s ever been. With no end in sight to construction-related injuries and deaths, it’s up to construction workers to look out for their own.
While management certainly plays a part in the overall safety of a worksite, nothing compares to creating a culture of safety within the workplace.
Below, we’ll review what a culture of safety is and how to create, or strengthen, one in your workplace.
What is a Culture of Safety?
First things first, what is a safety culture? While it may sound complicated, it’s actually very simple. A culture of safety is when every team member, from management to the bottom of the totem pole, is dedicated to preventing injuries and deaths (in this case, in the construction industry). A successful culture of safety starts with an understanding of why accidents happen, and a well-thought-out plan to prevent and eliminate the causes.
A business that has a great culture of safety will always make worker safety their number one priority. Now that you understand what a culture of safety is and its benefits, let’s go over how to implement a culture of safety in your workplace.
Start With Safety Training
Your company can’t begin to tackle safety issues unless everyone can identify what they are. Although it’s easy to identify many safety issues, some of the more dangerous ones are a little more difficult to decipher. Every worksite has its own set of safety hazards to combat, and industry-specific training is a big help.
Implementing safety training programs shows employees you’re dedicated to creating a culture of safety. And when you offer consistent training courses that are applicable to the job your employees are doing, you will be reinforcing safety best practices. You also ensure that all team members understand how to prepare for and react to safety hazards.
Document and Communicate
Although according to OSHA regulations, you should have safety postings throughout the workplace, you can take the extra initiative and create an open forum for all workers to discuss safety issues they’re facing with management. Whether you do this with written communications, or monthly discussions covering specific safety hazards, the choice is yours.
Ensure that training documentation and internal safety documentation is easily accessible for all employees. Don’t forget, even the best documentation is useless if employees aren’t able to review it.
Lead By Example
Employees don’t just look to management for pay raises, their attitudes are direct reflections of the management that leads them. When management is dedicated to and excited about safety, employees will be too. On the other hand, when workers see management ignoring safety guidelines or making a fuss about regular training, employees are going to act the exact same way.
When it comes to creating a culture of safety, actions really do speak louder than words. Management should complete training courses and practice the safety tips taught to the teams. If management sees something dangerous, they should be the first ones to speak up and correct the issue.
Involve the Teams
As we mentioned above, a culture of safety is only successful when it's practiced by everyone in the company. Besides regular safety training and meetings, the easiest way to get all team members involved in safety best practices is to form a safety committee. The safety committee should be responsible for updating the company’s safety plan and creating individual safety plans for each part of the construction project. Although we want to be as proactive as possible, accidents can still happen.
So, you should also create an employee response team and provide them with basic safety training so they’re able to quickly respond to any workplace accidents. Paired with the employee safety committee, the response team ensures the company is prepared for any hazard to come its way.
One of the most beneficial aspects of involving all team members in safety planning is that they will feel their input is valued. Then, they will be more likely to report any safety hazards they encounter. They will also be more likely to speak up when they disagree with policies or when they think of a safety plan improvement.
While OSHA and other government entities have their own regular inspections, there’s no substitute for daily and weekly internal inspections. Inspections of the work site should never be skipped or postponed; they should always happen before work starts, and in between different project phases. These inspections can be brief, but they should be thorough.
You should examine equipment and tools and double-check that all debris has been removed. You can also use this regular inspection time to host quick daily safety meetings. Verify each team understands what the other teams will be working on and everyone is aware of safety hazards that may occur during the day.
We hope that the above tips will help you create or improve the safety culture in your workplace, but this blog is no substitution for a 10-Hour Construction Safety Course. After all, training is the first step in creating a successful culture of safety!