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Safety first—and last

May 3, 2016

Carpenter using safety gogglesAs bids are being approved for summer projects and crews gear up to get busier, don’t let job site safety slip away. Make plans to pick up the pace and still stay safe.

People often think that construction is dangerous, so accidents are bound to happen. This is insulting to the men and women who make construction their profession and craft. The truth is that proper training, job site vigilance, and company safety culture can lead to zero incidents and accidents.

Opportunities

OSHA reports that 6.5 million people work at 252,000 construction sites per day in the United States. Unfortunately, the agency says the construction industry’s fatal injury rate is higher than the national average for all industries. Out of 4,251 worker fatalities in the private industry in 2014, 874—or 20.5 percent—were in construction. Falls were the number one cause of death, followed by electrocution, being struck by an object, and caught in between objects.

Framing may not be as dangerous as working on a bridge above Niagara Falls, but it does have hazards. The first step is to eliminate potential dangers with the proper training. You need to ensure your crews understand how to use their tools, equipment and products, as well as how to communicate issues to crew members and supervisors.

Consider establishing a safety training seminar for all your new hires and letting them work with a mentor for a few days before they are on their own. This will give new employees the opportunity to learn on the job and understand how you run your company and crews. It also gives new hires the chance to ask questions.

Another way to decrease the number of accidents is by creating an open company culture. If workers don’t feel comfortable presenting problems to management, they are going to hide potentially disastrous situations.

When gathering information after an incident or near miss, think about finding out:

  • Was a procedure or rule disregarded?
  • Did company pressure jeopardize safety?
  • Are procedures out of date?
  • When did training last occur?
  • Has this incident happened in the past?
Safety Week

If you don’t know how to jumpstart safety and make it part of your crew’s daily routine, check out constructionsafetyweek.com. Many contractors use this annual event, happening May 2-6, as an opportunity to refocus safety plans, create new tips and open a dialogue about safety on the job. The initiative was started by 40 national and global construction firms making up The Construction Industry Safety Initiative and the Incident & Injury Free Executive Forum. They are nationally recognized groups that don’t mess around when it comes to safety.

OSHA says workplace fatality rates have decreased by 66 percent and occupational injury and illness rates have dropped by 67 percent since 1970. This is more impressive when you take into account that employment has doubled in the United States in 45 years. This would not have happened without contractors like you paying attention to safety and meeting the needs of your crews.

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Comments

Megan Earl said -

I have a friend who works in construction and he’s always saying that safety is so important. I didn’t know that over 6.5 million people work at construction sites daily in the United States. That’s a lot of people. I guess it makes sense that you’d be able to injure yourself easily in such a job. It’s good to hear that there are things like The Construction Industry Safety Initiative to help keep people like my friend safe!

July 22, 2016 at 9:42 am • Reply

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