There’s no doubt about it — construction is a dangerous field. Hard labor causes severe body strain as the years go by. Hand tools and heavy equipment alike bring the likelihood of accidents occurring much higher than most career paths in our world today. The following construction safety statistics show just how big of a deal these mishaps can be:
- Of all the deaths in the US workforce, 1 in 5 happens in the construction industry
- Falls are responsible for about 33% of construction-related deaths
- Other top safety concerns that lead to significant fatalities include being struck or hit by equipment, getting caught between two items, and being electrocuted.
- Construction injury rates are 71% higher than other fields.
- These numbers may be lower than the actual occurrence rate, as an estimated 25% of workers state they have forgotten the injury reporting process in the past
OSHA, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Administration Department, reported the following common stats in 2019:
20% of the deaths in the chart above occurred in the construction industry.
And it’s not just workers who are affected by construction safety concerns — your company’s finances are also on the line, too.
- The total cost per year of construction industries in the United States is over $11 billion.
- The cost of fatal construction injuries, including health care, lost production, lost income, and quality of life concerns, is $5 billion.
- Workers’ comp accounts for $2.5 million in profit loss per year.
- Missed days of work add up to over 130,000, just related to construction injuries.
These construction statistics, combined with the fact that OSHA can charge an average of $13,653 to $136,532 for violations, really shows how much construction safety can affect your business.
But how can you ace this area, avoiding employee injuries, fatalities, and company costs? We believe communication is the best place to start.
Think of pulling the Andon cord, just as a quick example. When workers saw concerns in that original Toyota manufacturing plant, they pulled the cord to let their team members know there was a mistake in the line. This was done immediately when the mistake was noticed.
Communication can be your Andon cord in construction too. Whenever something is wrong, especially related to the safety of your project participants, make sure they let someone know right away. Small problems won’t have the chance to turn into larger hazards as time goes on.
You could even take the time to create a system — ensure your workers know exactly who to contact and how to do it when something looks unsafe or even a little bit questionable. This clear and expected communication will be your first effective line of defense against dangers in the workplace, as well as all of the injuries, fatalities, and high costs that come with them.
In the post below, we’ll go over the steps to take to create that plan or safety system, as well as explore further in detail why communication is such a good tool to add to your construction safety kit.
Construction Job Site Safety
Although communication is the best place to start, you’ll want to implement other construction strategies in your workplace. Our top tips include:
- Make a safety plan
- Consider a designated safety manager
- Seek out ways to stay safe while you work
Make a safety plan
Plenty of the job site dangers you and your workers come across on a daily basis are known about well before they occur. For example, you know that forklifts can lead to serious problems if the driver is not properly trained in. Because of this, heavy machinery training is likely already in your training handbook.
But what about the smaller injuries that occur? The more you plan for —and train around— the better prepared your project participants will be.
The events and occurrences you avoid through training and other protocols will make up your construction safety plan.
Some of the main topics to include in your construction safety training plan include:
- The use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety glasses, gloves, steel toe boots, hard hats, etc.
- Plans to protect falling in or around floor and wall openings — hole covers, railings, etc.
- Proper training and licenses for heavy equipment use — cranes, forklifts, and other tools.
- Proper tool maintenance and care.
- Electrical safety protocol, including power shut offs when wires are being adjusted.
These are just examples of what could be included on a construction safety plan, but your specific version could have even more. Feel free to keep adding to your list as long as it continues to feel like a trainable, understandable, and easy to implement collection.
Consider a designated safety manager
In larger organizations, there are often designated individuals whose sole purpose is to focus on the safety of the company. This may not be feasible in most residential construction businesses, but it is still possible to have one employee focus on safety with at least some of their time each week.
Your safety manager could be:
- The general manager
- A team lead — or even all your team leads paying attention to the safety of their own workers
- You — or the business owner — planning for safety and looking at job sites through a proactive lens whenever possible
Things your safety manager(s) could watch out for include:
- Every project participant’s training history, ensuring their licenses and safety-related trainings are completed and up to date
- The implementation of safety practices and protocols on the job site, whether through general supervision or surprise trips
- Trends in injury reports, and methods to stop similar accidents from occurring in the future
No matter how you assign a safety manager to your team, it will make a difference in the safety focus of your entire company. Accident prevention can’t be forgotten if it is literally written in the description of a team member’s job.
Seek out ways to stay safe while you work
This is where your construction safety practices can evolve and improve as time goes on. If your project participants are getting injured, pay attention to the circumstances. Is there a way to keep them safer or prevent the accident from ever occurring in the first place? If so, create a new protocol to teach every member of the team how to avoid that specific type of incident.
You can also take note directly from other construction professionals on what has worked for them in the past. Some top construction job site safety tips we’ve found include:
- Plan ahead for every job and the tools it will need. Make sure all supplies are available and workers will not need to “make do with what they have on hand.”
- Review training and certification history for every new project participant. Try not to assume “tears of experience” is equivalent to being trained in all common construction practices.
- Have training review sessions from time to time so current employees can brush up on skills and protocols they were taught when they began working for your team.
- Recognize positive and negative behaviors related to safety, as project participants will better adhere to standards when they know their hard —and safe— work is well-appreciated.
- Don’t let complacency enter your company. Stay safe even if accidents don’t happen often.
- When a project participant comes to you with a concern, fix it as soon as possible. This shows workers that their voices are heard. If the concern is ignored, they may feel that there is no purpose in talking to higher-ups about safety in the future.
When it comes to planning for safety, no effort is too much. The more work you put into seeking out safe practices, the more protected your project participants —and your company— will be.
Why Construction Communication is the Best Place to Start
We’ve made it clear that communication is one of the most important piece in construction site safety and accident prevention, but what do the experts say?
This research study on fostering safety communication among construction workers found three main aspects that make the method work.
- Safety Climate
- Crew Cohesion
- Safety Communication
What is a construction safety climate, exactly? It’s a team-based environment that has a heavy focus on — and appreciation for — being safe.
It makes safety a common and accepted conversation, and ensures every member of the team is on board with reporting hazards immediately when they see them. It ensures new project participants that they don’t have to follow a confusing chain of command or step on their supervisor’s toes to raise a concern — everyone is heard equally and often regarding the safety of the work they perform.
How can you create a safety climate for your project participants?
- Make sure every worker knows they can report hazards at all times.
- Talk about safety often, so everyone knows it’s a comfortable subject.
- Make sure workers know they can come to anyone with safety concerns — no matter who they are or what level of higher-up they end up needing to speak to.
A safety climate is easy to create by taking the simple steps mentioned above. Just show your reliance on safety reporting, and your project participants are sure to follow.
What does crew cohesion have to do with avoiding dangers on the job site? If a team that works together gets along well, they are much more likely to look out for one another when safety concerns do come up.
They will be more comfortable speaking up and more likely to report dangers when they see them, too. You may be surprised by other benefits that crew cohesion brings, including high productivity rates and more. Staying safe is just a small piece of this team-based success.
Construction Safety Communication
Safety can’t be a priority if it’s never talked about. Simply adding the topic into your daily conversations can keep your team away from accidents and injuries. It shows that safety is a priority in your workplace and reminds project participants of that focus each and every day.
All in all, communication, whether it’s related to safety or a completely different topic, is a solid way to keep your workers from harm’s way while they work.
Focus on strengthening your project participants’ ability to converse, and you’ll be helping them stay safe in the process. Here’s a guide on how to create a communication plan for your construction project.
Tools to Strengthen Your Construction Site Safety
Now that we’ve covered just about everything there is to know about communication on the job site and construction safety, let’s dive into how to let these two terms impact your business for the better.
There are two main tools that come to mind when communication and construction safety are mentioned:
- Safety Meetings and Daily Check-ins
- Communication Technology
Safety Meetings and Daily Checkins
Meetings and check-ins are the perfect way to check up on the construction site safety protocol throughout the workweek. Maybe the whole team gets together on Friday mornings, or you might have a quick conversation with each project participant before leaving the job site at the end of the day.
No matter how you choose to check in, take the chance to ask about safety concerns while you’re at it. Potentially dangerous situations will be fresh on workers’ minds, and in many cases, you’ll be able to implement solutions before any harm can come about.
These meetings also boost workplace relationships which, as we mentioned before, also benefits safety measures.
If you feel like you don’t have time to implement meetings every day, construction communication software is the perfect place to turn. You can use them along your construction management software to let people update when they can in a place that everyone on your team can see.
These systems allow you to converse with project participants, suppliers, and clients. They’re great at keeping people “in the know” regarding safety, as well as other news or company concerns.
These tools allow you and your project participants to create and have a safer and more connected job sites. They can help with:
No matter what your safety plan entails, putting a construction communication software to use can bring about a number of benefits. And if you’re looking for an app that can perform all of these tasks for your team, we can help you at Rivet.
Rivet improves communication by centralizing all your information. We’re here to help you create a space to organize your data and information and communicate it to everyone on the project. Our features provide accessible communication to every project participant.
It contains all of the features described above, such as streamlined and saved conversations, flexible reports you can customize and send to field members to fill out, translation capabilities, and information hub so everyone can easily get to disparate resources, and more. It works with nonusers (people who don’t download the app) by integrating text messages into its system, so it can be utilized even if a few of your project workers aren’t yet ready to introduce technology into their construction careers.
Above all else, Rivet’s goal is to keep you and your team safe through connection and communication. Feel free to contact us or download our app to learn more today. We’d be honored to play a role in your construction safety success.