Taking a Proactive Approach to Construction Safety

When it comes to construction safety, does your company take a reactive or proactive approach? For most companies, their safety programs probably contain a combination of the two approaches. Proactive in some ways, but reactive on other aspects of safety.

For example, an incentive program that rewards numbers of days without an accident or injury is a reactive approach.This is reacting to a desired outcome rather than a proactive approach and could lead to employees failing to report incidents in order to hit the incentivized goal. This would actually be counterproductive to creating safer worksites.

Here are some best practices to implement in your safety program in order to take a proactive approach to safety:

1. Empower everyone on the jobsite, regardless of position, with the authority to issue a stop work for any and all perceived safety concerns. Do not allow work to resume until the issue has been adequately addressed.

2. Create a safety plan specific to the project and site. This should be done in conjunction with the creation of the construction plan. As you plan how you will build and deliver the project, plan how you will keep your workers safe as construction progresses through each task and phase.

3. Monitor, evaluate and adjust. As work progresses, conditions can change drastically from one day to the next. Understand how changing conditions can create new safety hazards is important. Continuous improvements to safety measures need to be made based on the most up-to-date information on jobsite conditions.

4. Training should be an ongoing activity for all employees. Train workers on the safe and proper way to operate equipment and on the selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Remember, workers don’t have to have an accident to suffer an injury. Be sure to train workers on proper techniques on how to perform tasks that create the least amount of stress on their bodies.

5. Create a safety committee to review safety performance on all projects. Make sure to involve employees from all levels of the business, especially craft laborers. They have first-hand experience on how safety measures are being implemented on the jobsite and can provide vital feedback on areas of concern that need to be addressed. They should have a voice in helping choose which safety measures to implement to control and mitigate hazards.

6. Fully vet all subcontractors on their safety records and ask to review their written safety program. Once selected, work with subcontractors to help develop the safety plan as they can provide valuable insight specific to their trade. Make sure subcontractor agreements cover adhering to your site safety plan so you can hold them accountable.

7. Hold safety meetings each day, or before each shift, to cover specific tasks being performed, safety measures and protocols in place and any areas of concern. Be sure to discuss existing hazards and any new hazards that may arise throughout the course of the day and how to avoid them.

8. Reach beyond being compliance-driven in your approach to safety. Work to identify additional safety measure and precautions you can take to better protect your workers and prevent accidents.

9. Investigate all accidents and near misses to identify the root causes. Focus less on who was responsible and more on the how and why the accidents or near misses occurred. By understanding the root cause, you can better develop solutions to implement to prevent accidents from occurring again and better protect your workers.

10. Incentive programs should encourage workers to adopt a proactive approach to construction safety. Encourage workers to speak up and report unsafe conditions or work behavior. Promote safe working practices rather than encouraging workers to not report incidents.

11. Conduct routine safety audits. These can either be done internally by the safety manager or by hiring an outside third-party to review your safety program and practices.

Invest in improving your safety program the same way you would invest in new equipment or tools that would improve your business. Taking a proactive approach to safety can lead to improved productivity and increase the quality of work. Companies with strong safety records tend to have better employee morale and a positive reputation in their field.

4 thoughts on “Taking a Proactive Approach to Construction Safety

  1. As mentioned, proactive and reactive approaches to safety work good when combined with utilized standards and outlaid plans and practices but unfortunately many companies takes the shorter route of only practicing the reactive approach. Hopefully with the rise in the technology, software and more present virtual reality, we will see an improvement in safety practices in construction industry in general.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Agree that technology can help to improve safety as long as there is a commitment to making it work and keeping workers safe. All the safety tech in the world won’t mean squat if there’s not a driving force from the top.

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