Employee safety is obviously a big priority in construction. Still, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were 4,585 fatal work-related injuries in 2013—and 856, or almost 20 percent, of those were in the construction industry. (Other hazardous industries, not too surprisingly, include transportation and agriculture.)
As far as we can tell, the first step in minimizing injuries and fatalities on the job site is to be aware, and make others aware, of the best practices for construction site safety. The next is to implement them at all times.
Essential to keeping your construction site and team safe is establishing a culture centered on safety. This comes from the top down and should be instilled within each and every employee. Continuously remind your employees that the safer way is always the smarter way, and that shortcuts are not worth the potential time saved. Also, make it clear that safety is a team effort. Encourage your employees to step up and say something if they feel a coworker is taking an action that appears unsafe.
Another safety strategy is to give each project or job site the individual attention it deserves. You should use the same basic safety principles everywhere, but make sure you’re paying enough attention to the unique hazards of each project or site.
Equipment/Machinery Operation Related Best Practices
It may seem like a given, but proper training is essential when it comes to operating anything from a jackhammer to a 500-foot mobile crane. Taking the time to train each individual employee on effectively and safely operating the equipment and machinery they control should lead to smarter, more informed decisions in potentially dangerous situations.
Carefully inspecting machinery before and after use will also go a long way in preventing accidents. Encourage your employees to report anything that could be potentially hazardous regardless of the perceived severity.
Teach machinery operators never to assume that the “coast is clear”. One of the worst things operators can do is assume that, if they don’t see something, it’s not there. Furthermore, they shouldn’t assume that just because they can see a coworker, that doesn’t mean the coworker can see them or is aware of what their intentions are.
Weather Related Best Practices
From ice and snow to rain and heat, there is a lot that Mother Nature can throw at you and your crew. Obviously, you cannot control the weather, but you can control your reaction to it and how you prepare for it.
As far as preparation goes, having a slew of policies and procedures in place for all possible weather events is a great place to start. It’s tough to plan for random weather events in a short period of time, so make sure you’re prepared all across the board well ahead of time.
Keeping an eye on weather forecasts and radar (or delegating it to someone you trust) is essential as well. This is where being able to control your reaction to it comes in. We’ve all learned over time that weather predictions and even radar aren’t always 100% accurate, but these sources of information are certainly worth paying attention to when making decisions about your crew’s safety.
ExakTime’s SiteHub gives you a current weather forecast at any of your job sites, as well as a live snapshot of who is currently clocked in there. Having this tool available could be invaluable if you have to act quickly when the forecast ugly.
Check out this detailed OSHA Pocket Guide for further reading and more in-depth instruction on some common safety hazards and solutions for construction.