Managing On-Site Construction Safety is a Serious Responsibility

By Geoffrey Hall 

Construction is a high-hazard industry and field management is the first line of defense in mitigating the risks of on-site accidents. As on-site personnel oversee the day-to-day activities of a project, they monitor and regulate the implementation of safety precautions prior to building. Direct vision of many potential safety issues gives field managers the task of managing the workers they supervise as well as the subcontractors that are brought on for each project.

Safety isn’t simply common sense. Weekly meetings among field management personnel should be established to discuss production-related topics. These topics include a review of any accidents, near misses or safety lapses, as well as safety concerns related to the coming work. This message should then be relayed to the workers at weekly toolbox safety talks; this is a common way to remind workers about safety procedures and a useful method of addressing these concerns. It’s increasingly common for language barriers to exist on the job site.

Communicating to a diverse workforce, whose primary language may not be English, is a serious challenge for the industry. This is specifically true for the on-site field managers, charged with supervising these workers each and every day. Where English may not be the commonly understood language, construction firms must effectively communicate safety and operations expectations. Effective communication can directly help prevent lapses in safety protocol. For example, despite full compliance with OSHA regulations, falls still occur and remain a leading cause of on-site injuries. This reality requires more aggressive communication approaches between workers and their supervisors.

Companies should begin with the mindset that accidents are not inevitable. In the event that an accident occurs, field managers must review all of the facts and circumstances to identify root causes so that corrective action can be taken to prevent future incidents. The same attention should be paid to near misses that could have been serious accidents. Regular accident review meetings between field managers and executives send a clear message that safety should be paramount. Safety is a job that never ends. The construction industry is continually adopting new operational methods, training workers on new equipment and installing new machinery.

In a proactive safety culture, the field managers must continually adapt to the new ways that workers are performing their jobs. At the end of the day, every company wants every worker, planner and manager to go home safely at night. To achieve this important goal, construction companies must incorporate a culture of safety, from top to bottom.

Geoffrey Hall is senior vice president, ACE Construction. Based in New York City,  Hall is responsible for leading the domestic underwriting strategies of ACE USA’s Primary Construction Casualty Group of ACE’s Casualty Risk Division. Hall manages a countrywide team of more than 150 construction professionals dedicated to addressing the unique insurance needs of builders and contractors. He has more than 25 years of diverse experience in the insurance industry.

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