In most workplaces, accidents are a nuisance for worker and a headache for HR. However, at construction sites, accidents are potentially industry-ruining. With every new story about environmental disasters, earth-shattering explosions, and trapped laborers, construction sites become less and less appealing — even as the population grows and demands for new, updated structures increases. Though modern society relies on construction for comfortable, convenient civilization, few people outside the industry are overjoyed at the idea of increased development.
Thus, construction industry leaders must strive to safeguard their employees — if not for the ethical reasons, then for the economical ones. Here are eight ways construction businesses can reduce workplace accidents and gain public approval by following best practices.
Before any worker — no matter his or her role or experience level — can set foot onto a construction site, he or she must be fully cognizant of the possible hazards. Ignorant workers are perhaps the biggest dangers in any industry, as their unknowing mistakes put everyone else at risk. Understanding of perils at hand and sustaining a perpetual state of alertness is perhaps the number-one best way to prevent accidents.
Though most of a construction worker’s skills can be gained on the job, safety is one skill set that is best learned before a worker gets to the construction site. Worksafe Australia and a number of other organizations publish a number of resources to help businesses to train their new laborers on standard security practices, including pamphlets, worksheets, training videos, and even on-site training opportunities. Experienced workers should be expected to refresh their knowledge of standard safety by attending regular training sessions throughout the year.
Accidents are more likely to occur when workers are unsure what to expect. Direct communication regarding the day’s goals and activities will cut down on surprises that could cause bodily harm. Businesses would be wise to equip workers with devices, like handheld radios or headsets, which allow fast and efficient communication among team members.
There are a number of legal hoops most construction companies must jump through in order to begin building, and it is essential that all proper registrations and licenses are earned before work begins. Workers who will be charged with particularly difficult tasks, like blasting, certainly should provide evidence of their certification well in advance of their employment on the site. Not only does this prevent accidents due to improper training, but it protects the business from legal action and a fallen reputation.
Those skilled in the kitchen know that cut fingers occur much more frequently with dull blades. Construction workers equipped with improper gear are bound to make fatal errors. Not only should each piece of equipment on site be perfectly suited to the job at hand, but businesses must make certain that all machinery and material are maintained well.
Businesses must also consider equipment that doesn’t directly contribute to the construction project. Workers should have plenty of water on-site as well as a shady place to prevent dehydration and exposure-related illnesses. Longer construction projects may even benefit from fabric structures to store equipment and cover incomplete sites.
Ideally, construction workers would fully understand the ramifications of inadequate safety precautions and thus act in a manner to ensure site-wide well-being — but this is not a perfect world. Every site must have a strong supervisor who is willing and capable of enforcing safety standards with no exceptions. This supervisor must keep tabs on all employees throughout the day and correct those who fail to commit to proper safety.
The accident rate would be even higher than it is today if it were not for businesses willing to devote extra resources to keep their employees safe. The development of new practices that will enhance security (as well as public opinion) should always be encouraged, and businesses should avoid speaking against legislation aimed at improving safety protocols. Perhaps with enough innovation, all construction sites can be 100 percent accident-free.
The worst thing any business can do for its reputation is attempt a cover-up. Hiding accidents from the press and the public not only lowers the opinion of a single construction endeavor — it paints the construction industry as a whole in a negative light. Ultimately, people understand that accidents happen, and as long as businesses are doing their best to foster a safe environment for their workers, any accidents that do occur will only contribute to the growing need to augment modern safety techniques. Transparency, along with the other seven practices on this list, will help construction as a whole become a safer industry in which to work.
Originally Posted on the Construction Marketing Association Blog