Construction Safety Starts at the Top

By Geoffrey Hall

Safety on the job site begins in the executive suite. To have a real influence on workers, safety must become a core value of each construction organization. Chief executives should instill in every level of management that the responsibility for safety lies with them. Senior executives need to lead by example taking an active and visible role in the implementation and execution of the safety culture. Because every project is built on paper first, safety begins with pre-planning. As executives begin the process of planning a project, safety should be incorporated into all stages of development. All exposures should be identified and addressed in pre-planning stages and controls to mitigate risk exposures should be built into the safety plan.

Additionally, all firms should establish a safety committee prior to building. This committee will be composed of upper management, risk managers, safety directors, and operational staff, striving to continually discuss and review safety performance. Planning for safety is a continually evolving process and chief executives should utilize all resources in order to mitigate the risk of safety complications. Hiring on-site safety managers for projects of all sizes can prove to be beneficial in the long run, despite what may be perceived as high upfront costs. A safety manager can help continually review and enhance the efforts made by everyone on site. Risk management experts and insurers may bring a new set of eyes to a project and can help identify concerns or problem areas that may be otherwise overlooked. This may occur because the company is focusing on major hazards but overlooking lesser ones.

For every construction project, senior executives should thoroughly outline a strong safety plan prior to construction, establish a safety committee that can oversee the project and work with outside resources. By taking these proactive approaches to creating a safety culture, construction companies can save lives, reduce accidents and lower the costs associated with injuries and delays. A strong safety culture helps to manage not only incurred costs through accidents but also the saves the company expenses it would have to bear itself.

Geoffrey Hall is senior vice president of ACE USA's construction group.

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