Importance of Worker Participation in Maintaining a Safe Construction Site
A successful health and safety program can’t be achieved without some collaborative effort between workers and employers. No matter how effective safety measures may seem on paper, employers are still going to need the cooperation and buy-in of workers to accomplish desired results. But how can you promote and increase worker participation in the development, implementation, evaluation, and improvement of safety programs in the construction industry? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends five action items to help you get started: Step 1: Encourage workers to participate in the safety program. Show that you value workers’ input to the decision-making process by encouraging active participation in the program. Provide construction personnel with appropriate time and resources to help them contribute to the process. Recognize employees who have participated through positive reinforcement. Implement an open-door policy and listen to safety suggestions from the workforce. Step 2: Encourage workers to report safety and health hazards or concerns. Frontline employees are exposed to work hazards every day—making them a valuable source of first-hand information regarding occupational risks, unsafe practices, and areas of improvement. Encourage workers to report safety concerns so that employers can immediately address the issue before things get out of hand. What can employers and safety managers do?
- Establish a simple and reasonable process for reporting accidents, injuries, close calls, and emerging work hazards.
- Inform workers regarding the actions that were taken to address their concerns or suggestions.
- Stress that the management will use reports to improve the current safety and health practices on the job site. More importantly, ensure that there will be no retaliation against employees who have reported safety issues.
- Enable employees to temporarily suspend or request a shutdown of work activities that they deem unsafe.
- Involve workers when solving safety issues.