Safe and Sound

 SAFETY TRAINING 02Construction firms must ensure safety strategies are in place.   

By Ryan Scannell

The construction industry is skyrocketing. In fact, FMI Corporation predicts that total engineering construction spending in 2018 will increase by 7 percent, nearly double the 4 percent rise seen in 2017. Yet despite this uptick, the worker shortage within the construction industry continues to be a big issue nationwide – with insufficient labor available compared with work that needs to be done.

Construction organizations are anxious to hire new employees and get them started right away. However, this is not always in the best interest of the company. There is no question that construction is often cited as one of the most dangerous industries in the country and data that shows new workers have a much higher injury rate. 

The good news is that the construction marketplace is taking notice. A recent report by the USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 80 percent of contractors expressed concerns about the safety risks of too few skilled workers on their jobsites. 

To reduce the risk of injury for recently-hired employees, construction organizations must work with their employees and subcontractors to ensure proper safety strategies are in place. Implementing the below strategies can help make sure jobsites are as safe as possible. 

1. Formalized orientation programs – Formalized programs can help educate new employees about the safety culture of your organization. These programs are also used as training opportunities to help new employees recognize hazardous exposures and get better acclimated to the jobsite. Orientation programs should provide resources through a variety of mediums – providing hands-on practice, staging drills in case of an emergency and a handbook that can be referenced on an ongoing basis. A formal training can go a long way in preventing injuries from happening in those crucial first couple of months – and beyond.

2. Assigned mentors – One of the most efficient ways to instill workplace safety for new employees is through mentorship programs. Pairing new workers with those who closely follow safety practices can help to teach the recent hired employees about the proper policies and procedures in place. This also provides an opportunity for a new hire to benefit from the knowledge of an experienced colleague, in addition to having a designated resource to ask questions of. For employees new to the construction sector, this mentor-mentee relationship can be especially helpful. 

3. Daily team huddles – Daily team huddles can provide your organization with a structured way to maintain an ongoing focus on safety practices. These huddles also provide an opportunity for all employees to express their thoughts and concerns relevant to the scope of their work for the day. By starting the day with a huddle, all workers will be on the same page about potential hazards and will be equipped with the knowledge they need to address such incidents. Huddles should address four key areas:  

• Do we have the people to be able to do the job safely?

• Do we have the equipment to do the job safely?

• What are the exposures for the day?

• Do we have the proper controls in place specific to those exposures?

4. Stop-work procedures – Stop-work orders are designed to suspend operations when there is a perceived threat on the jobsite. All employees should be taught to recognize when an unsafe behavior or dangerous condition is identified and should be encouraged to speak up when such behavior or condition presents itself. For stop-work procedures to be beneficial, it is up to management to promote these procedures and make sure employees know it can be used without repercussions. 

5. Colored hard hats – While different colored hard hats are traditionally utilized to identify various project teams, such as road crews or supervisors, it is also a good practice for site safety that new employees wear specific colored hard hats. This allows these workers to be easily identified by their mentors, and all team members, who can then pay special attention to their whereabouts and ensuring they are following proper safety guidelines.

The above guidelines are just a few methods that management can work with their contractors on to implement and ensure recently-hired workers, along with more tenured employees, fully understand all project safety measures and know how to transfer this knowledge into actionable precautions. 

Strong safety protocols on construction sites lead to a stable and consistent workforce that will strengthen any organization. Management may also notice monetary benefits, as a strong safety culture will help to lower the frequency and severity of insurance claims, which can help reduce the cost of insurance premiums over the long run. Becoming a safer organization makes you more attractive in the insurance marketplace, which will create more competition and provide you with more options at renewal time. 

Consulting your insurance broker as a trusted partner can also help to identify solutions that are tailored to your specific operational risks, helping to reduce the probability of an accident. 

Ryan Scannell is a producer at Graham Company, where he focuses on business development for the firm’s Construction division. He is responsible for the design and implementation of comprehensive, cost-effective insurance programs and risk management strategies for large privately held companies with complex and demanding needs.




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