One of the most dangerous job roles in the UK is in the construction industry. While accounting for more than 3.1 million jobs, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported in 2019/20 the deaths of 40 construction workers and 81,000 employees afflicted with work-related illnesses.
Workers in this industry are exposed to various safety and health hazards, making them at risk of injury, or worse, death. To name a few of these safety and health hazards, they are at risk from falling, machinery malfunctions, structural collapses, and electrocution.
Fostering a Culture of Safety in Construction
It does not happen overnight that your organization has a top-notch safety culture. It takes everyone’s power and commitment to build a solid safety culture in your company. It is not just lip service delivered from upper management to the employees.
Compensation for work-related injuries and death is costly. While it may be tempting to just economize to save, workplace-related accidents have caused more than a million lost workdays per year. Thus, it is the interest of any construction business to uphold safety and health standards in the workplace.
1. Safety Is Top Priority
Safety in the workplace should be of utmost priority by employers. More importance should be given to it rather than on productivity, costs, or deadlines, among others. In any company, employees are the number one asset. Without the workforce, your business would not even take off from the ground.
Workers need to feel that their safety is the number one priority of the company. Doing this helps build their trust and confidence with the management.
The cost of spending on safety training and seminars is all worth it. Prioritizing safety helps minimize costs while boosting productivity in the workplace. With fewer or no accidents occurring on the job site, there are lesser to no cost overruns and delays in meeting timelines.
Most importantly, you must provide adequate protective gear, like construction safety helmets, work boots, and safety goggles for your employees.
2. Continuous Training
Giving your employees proper safety training is the fastest and easiest way to foster an improved safety company culture. Holding safety training shows your employees how committed the company is to promoting their safety and health.
Keep in mind that training is not a one-off event. Safety training is an ongoing, continuous effort of your business to strengthen best practices in the workplace. Holding safety training regularly helps employees retain what they have been taught about workplace safety.
3. Everyone’s Accountability
Various studies prove that employees who are more involved in building and improving company policies feel more invested and likely uphold these protocols. Thus, in promoting the company’s safety culture, get employees from all levels of the business included.
Your construction business can create a safety committee focused on reviewing and updating the company’s safety policies. Apart from that, this team helps frame job site-specific safety details and identify potential hazards in every phase of a project.
Having an accident response team is also handy to administer basic first aid to injured workers. Employees trained to give first aid help mitigate any injury and steps to take for the incident to be properly handled.
Getting everyone involved in the framing of safety procedures also fosters accountability. Lip service from the upper management is definitely not enough. They have to practice the policies too. Workers should be empowered to speak up and report any unsafe conditions they notice.
4. Positive Reinforcement
Using positive reinforcement to elicit desired behavior also helps in upholding a safety culture in the organization. Reward workers who follow safety practices at work, regularly present during safety meetings and training, and help improve company safety by making suggestions or reporting any unsafe conditions or hazards.
Nonetheless, it should be emphasized in creating an incentive program, provisions against underreporting should be looked into. A good incentive program should not encourage underreporting of work accidents or injuries.
5. Continuous Inspection and Safety Meetings
Regular inspection before and after each workday on the job site should never be overlooked. Even the smallest of things could cause a severe accident or injury to workers. Potential hazards could be lying anywhere on the job site, so it pays to monitor every day.
While you may think holding a brief meeting for safety before every workday begins is time-consuming, it actually pays off in the long run. Workers and management alike will put into heart the safety and health of everyone in the workplace.
Strong Leadership to Promote Safety
As mentioned, lip service from the upper management would not change the attitude of employees towards job site safety. To build a safety-oriented work culture, leadership from management must set an example.