It may not be an easy process the whole way through, but getting your team on board with your construction safety procedures is imperative to save lives. Every time a safety procedure is overlooked, you run the risk of an accident—or even losing a team member’s life.
Dealing with Higher-Ups
Too often, business decisions are made based on financial figures. It’s your responsibility to make your managers and CEOs aware of high accident and death rates. Perhaps point out the likelihood of an incident occurring on your job site—this may help bring the threat home.
If that doesn’t work, though, bring some of your own numbers to the table. Show your higher-ups the following eye-opening statistics:
- 4,585 workers were killed on the job in 2013
- 20% of all work-related deaths occur in the construction industry
- One in 10 construction workers have an accident on the job every year
- Falls account for more than 30% of all construction fatalities, with electrocutions, struck-by and caught-in/between incidents together making up almost 30% of additional construction fatalities.
- Over the length of a 45-year career, the average construction worker has a one in two hundred chance of dying on the job.
Hopefully your managers will be sympathetic to your workers and realize how hard they work in such a dangerous field. Make them aware that spending on proper safety equipment can reduce costs on insurance premiums, closures from inspections, additional expenses from worker’s comp, lawsuits, license losses and civil lawsuits. In the end, following safety procedures saves costs and lives.
Convincing Your Employees
Your employees will likely be easier to get on board with new safety procedures—after all, it’s for their own health and well-being. However, workers who have been on the job for ages have a tendency to get comfortable in their routines, and may be reluctant to learn a new process.
The first step you should take in any new roll out is to inform your employees of what’s changing, what they should expect and what their responsibilities will be. In this case, the company is renewing its focus on safety; new safety standards for various situations will be laid out for all workers to follow; and they’re expected to stay informed on these changes and follow them.
In addition to the typical steps you’ll take in spreading awareness, like announcements during pre-shift meetings, posters and notes in employee paychecks, there are three great ways to make sure workers are taking steps to comply with your new safety rules:
Choose Your Champions
Find managers, foremen and workers who are especially outspoken with excellent attention to detail. Allow this team to review training procedures and safety policies, then share with you their opinions on current systems, including how practical or effective they really are in use.
Initiate a Conversation
Ask your crew what they believe is working and what isn’t. Ask if they can think of any opportunities where more safety standards could be implemented, or if they can think of situations in which too many standards are unnecessarily required. But don’t just listen to their responses—jot them down and try to act upon them. This allows your team to feel like they’re a part of the process, and that their opinion matters. When your team realizes that you sincerely want to know their opinion, they’ll be more responsive to both your questions and your requests.
This is without a doubt the most important step. Don’t respond to employee concerns in a nonchalant way—make them aware that their opinions matter and that you’ll look into it. Then, be sure to take action and do your research. Find out if the employee’s request is possible, and if not, why. Be sure to follow-up and let him or her know what the outcome of their concern or request is, so that they know you’re actively listening and working on their behalf.
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