Ideas to be More Proactive About Worker Safety

CII's Safety CBA continues to recognize Construction Safety Week, with another post by Dr. Lindsay Jenkins, SVP of Strategy and Technical Operations, Urbint.
In 2019, private industry employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). An additional 5,333 workers tragically died from job-related injuries, according to the BLS.

Taking a proactive approach to worker safety can decrease the frequency and severity of incidents. See here for tips on how to find and address construction hazards before they become problematic, so you can make your workers safer.

Ensure all workers are properly trained

Incidents happen when workers don’t receive adequate training to do their jobs. It’s important to thoroughly train new hires, as well as providing ongoing training to seasoned workers, especially when giving them new responsibilities.

Regularly inspect and replace safety equipment

Personal protective equipment is used to keep your workers safe. However, it isn’t effective if it’s worn out or damaged. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises employers to implement a PPE program if workers need to use PPE in their jobs.

The program should address the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; hazards present; training of employees to use it properly; and continuous monitoring to ensure effectiveness. This is important because, if PPE doesn’t fit properly, it can cause workers to become dangerously exposed to worksite hazards.

Create a regular schedule for all PPE to be carefully examined and replaced, if necessary. Workers should also inspect each item before use to ensure proper protection.

Talk with field workers to identify safety threats

Construction supervisors can’t be everywhere at once, so it’s possible there are safety threats you don’t know about at field locations. For this reason, it’s important to talk with workers on a regular basis to find out what’s going on in the field.

Empower workers to speak up if they see something that isn’t right. Take all complaints seriously and follow up with workers to let them know how issues were addressed. By encouraging people to be your eyes and ears, you’re affirming a strong commitment to safety.

Adopt new safety technology

New technological innovations can assist with worker safety initiatives. Investing in tools like safety management software that anticipates worker threats in advance can prevent worker injuries.

Other recent advances in safety technology include lone worker monitoring systems that allow you to track employees working alone, so you can quickly provide assistance if needed, and virtual reality (VR) headsets, which you can use to train workers on challenging or hazardous tasks in a simulated environment before they’re exposed to actual high-risk situations.

Implement a health and safety program

Formalize your efforts by creating a health and safety program. Along with keeping workers safe, OSHA advises this will help your company avoid indirect costs caused by workplace incidents including time lost due to work stoppages; training and other costs to replace injured workers; and loss or damage to material, machinery, and property.

Additionally, when workers are unable to do their jobs because of work-related illness or injury even for a short time, it can damage morale, productivity, turnover, and your company’s reputation. Having a health and safety program sends the message to workers that you’re committed to spotting issues before they arise. This is also a way to build trust and boost communication with workers, and it often produces other business improvements.
When employees report to work each shift, they put their safety in your hands. Taking a proactive approach to worker safety shows you not only understand the magnitude of this responsibility, but also take it seriously.

*An extended version of this article originally appeared on the Urbint website.

Date posted: May 5, 2021