Construction can be a risky business, considering 20 percent of workplace fatalities in 2014 were in this industry alone, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
Minimizing risk helps eliminate accidents, while keeping workers safe and productive. To effectively reduce risk, it is important to understand the construction industry’s largest exposures and how to eliminate them through a positive safety culture.
Identifying the Fatal Four
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following four exposures were responsible for nearly 60 percent of construction worker deaths in 2014:
- struck by object; and
Construction companies traditionally address the “fatal four” and other inherent risks through training, fall protection systems, rules/guidelines, proper equipment, etc. All of these are great tools, but when it comes to risk management, a basic safety program will not get the job done. Organizations must elevate the engagement of employees in safety.
Making safety a part of corporate culture is the linchpin for good decision-making and communication. It can motivate people to respond appropriately to a problem, event or issue, as well as ensure continuous training and attentiveness on the construction jobsite.
Implementing a Positive Safety Culture
Once employees are engaged in their safety, an awareness develops and preventing injuries becomes part of the job, rather than a reaction. Having a vibrant safety culture is not easy and definitely does not happen overnight. But it is pivotal to ensure an injury-free, productive work environment with reduced risk and lower workers’ compensation costs.
Following are seven common factors found in a true safety culture.
- There is a commitment to safety. Making safety a core value creates a vision that the workplace will be 100 percent accident-free. This starts from the top down and includes everyone. But it is not merely putting up signs and mentioning it during an annual meeting. It must be a standing agenda item, part of the company’s constant vision and a routine part of the business decision-making process.
- Safety is treated as an investment, not a cost. Safety is funded properly and not viewed as a negative. It is an investment in employees and part of the cost savings program because it is the “vehicle” to lower claims and insurance costs and increase productivity.
- Safety is part of the continuous improvement process. Resources and time must be set aside to identify ways to strengthen and improve safety performance.
- Training and information are provided. People who are properly trained in safety are more aware of how their actions can affect themselves and others. Posters and signs are useful, but not enough. Training can be done in different forms, but should be ongoing and part of employee development.
- Workplace analysis and hazard prevention are done. Data analysis is instrumental in devising appropriate control and prevention measures. Developing key performance indicators that target specific safety metrics is essential to understanding where the issues are and what is working.
- Workplace environment is “blame free.” This encourages employees to report incidents (injuries and near-misses) so that corrective actions can be taken. It is important to find and correct the root cause of the incident. This is the best way to prevent recurrences.
- Successes are celebrated. Recognition, rewards, reinforcement and positive feedback are important. Celebrate successes both big and small. Rewarding managers and employees for their commitment to safety is essential in reinforcing the psychology of safety.
For assistance with executing these suggestions and creating a robust safety culture, work with an insurance broker, carrier or certified safety professionals.