Increasing Safety Awareness in the Construction Industry

Encouraging and enforcing safety standards on construction sites is vital to maintaining a safe and effective team. However, safety programs for the sake of safety programs doesn’t do anyone any favors. If employees don’t feel compelled to make changes for the sake of their safety, supervisors need to find ways to get them motivated.

Start with Management

Employees won’t take safety initiatives seriously if their managers and supervisors don’t. For example, if workers overhear their boss griping about the cost of safety training, they may infer this as the boss doesn’t care about safety. Another element of leading by example is responding to employee concerns as soon as possible. If a construction worker reports a safety hazard, but management takes weeks to address it, it sends a message that the business’ leadership doesn’t care about their employees’ safety. When management makes employee health and safety a priority, employees are more likely to do so as well.

Reward Good Behavior

Many supervisors take a penalty-based approach to safety, but this can backfire. When employees are afraid of accruing penalties, they are more likely to hide concerning situations like near falls. While management needs to know about unsafe behavior or workplace hazards, they should focus more on correcting unwanted behavior and rewarding safe behavior. For example, supervisors can provide an incentive or reward for employees who always wear their personal protective equipment (PPE), participate in safety meetings, make safety suggestions/identify safety issues, etc.

What Not to Do

In their zeal to foster a culture of safety, some site supervisors end up making decisions that hurt safety initiatives. These include:

  • Disciplinary action. As mentioned above, focusing on penalizing unwanted behaviors isn’t an effective safety approach. Part of the issue is it requires near-constant supervision of the site, which is unrealistic. The other half of the problem is it provokes hostility from workers, especially if they feel like management is targeting them. Supervisors can’t overlook unsafe behavior, but their approach to correcting it should be safety-centric rather than disciplinary.
  • Poorly focused incentives. Reward systems and incentives can produce great results if supervisors put the focus on the right safety elements. For example, focusing on reducing the overall number of accidents is a good goal, but a poor incentive. Workers may stop reporting incidents for fear of losing a bonus. Safety incentive should focus more on behavior such as accruing points for wearing reflective clothing, safety glasses, etc.
  • Safety signs and posters. Putting up posters professing a passion for safety is only effective if management lives up to and promotes it on a personal level. In other words, if management’s only approach to safety is to put up posters, safety signage will swiftly become a joke.

Job site safety is critical to a successful construction company. If unsafe worker behaviors or injuries plague your construction sites, The Reilly Group can help. We can help you identify risks and enhance the safety of your business. Contact us to learn more.