Having a career in construction may put workers in potentially hazardous work conditions; however, ensuring proper safety protocols can significantly reduce the chance of incidents on a job site. These precautions can help mitigate risk that could lead to issues such as injury and mental health effects.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021. While that’s already alarming, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that more than 36% of the total fatalities in the construction industry are from falls on job sites. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that one in five deaths among U.S. workers occurs in the construction industry.
(Graph attribution: https://lileswhite.com/new-mexico/construction-injury-statistics/; however, this group pulled this data from the National Safety Council. This format is more reader-friendly than the data from NSC.)
OSHA standards are the legal minimum for safety guidelines; however, at Buffalo Construction, Inc., we aim to go beyond those policies and requirements to encourage the safest work environment possible. While these numbers may seem jarring if project teams within construction companies continuously review and perfect daily and long-term plans, teammate safety will always remain a top priority.
1. Brand your job site and keep it clean
Branding a job site doesn’t just mean hanging the company logo throughout the area. Branding should include important details like the contact info for the job site and proper signage that sets a precedent when entering the area. An open job site could have many hazardous conditions if entered under the wrong pretenses, so the public and other workers must understand where the job site begins and what is expected of those who enter. Along with these, good branding will include the recommended personal protective equipment that employees should have upon entry into the site.
A clean workspace provides employees with a quality work environment. Everyone wants to have a clean place to work, and trash accumulation not only looks terrible but is also a safety hazard. Focusing on a clean site boosts morale, creates better focus and attitudes, and contributes to a safer workplace.
Overall, a clean and branded job site helps establish teammates’ pride and confidence in their current and future work.
2. Constantly assess your existing safety plans for areas of improvement
Always look to elevate current programs or bring safety modifications to the next level. At Buffalo Construction, Inc., we recently implemented our Crane and Excavation Policies to help establish a system of checks and balances while involved in these work activities.
For our Crane Policy, we ensure that any crane that arrives on site has a valid annual and daily inspection. We also verify that the operator, rigging, and signaling personnel are appropriately licensed and trained. There are always significant safety factors to be considered with overhead equipment like cranes, so we work with our vendor partners to develop a lift plan, which identifies rigging materials and technique, crane positioning, load capacity, and any other potential hazards, such as adjacent power lines, that may affect a safe crane lift.
Additionally, for our excavation policy, we strive to ensure that individuals working in and around these excavations are led by a trained worker who can classify soil types correctly. This is the first step in knowing how to properly protect the excavation to prevent a cave-in. This program discusses preventative measures to take once the soil is properly classified. Most Buffalo Construction, Inc. projects will have an excavation of some sort during construction, so this policy ensures we’re starting the job on the right note.
3. Communication within project teams
Staying in communication with project teams is essential in ensuring specific needs are met. At Buffalo Construction, Inc., we keep up to date with project happenings through weekly X-Gap meetings. These meetings involve the entire project team and aim to identify potential threats that could hinder the team from reaching milestones. We also utilize a training tracker to ensure our Herd teammates remain updated on their current training certifications and that no one is facing any upcoming expirations. Our safety team also hosts a weekly call with the entire company that covers everything from relaying OSHA updates, reviewing best practices, or recapping recent lessons learned.
These resources help provide teammates with the tools and information to arm themselves for on-site safety success.
4. Provide orientation to Vendor Partners
When working with different trades on a construction site, each party needs to be aware of the expectation for safety. We ensure each Vendor Partner that collaborates with Buffalo Construction, Inc. has completed a site-specific safety orientation before starting work. This ensures all parties are operating under the same pretenses. Ensuring vendor partners are aware of what is expected of them, including the established standards of safety and emergency action plan for the project, is imperative to maintaining a safe job site.
5. Stay moving and stay accountable
Avoiding sitting down on the job isn’t just for optics; it’s to ensure supervisors are also in constant surveillance of the area. Supervisors can’t be everywhere at one time, but staying moving through the job site is a great way to identify any potential problems and keep workers more in-tuned with the task at hand.
Overall, the critical component for on-site construction success and safety is to have accountability. Whether with internal teammates or contracted Vendor Partners, there is no reason for anyone to be injured on the job. When teammates come to work, everyone should feel confident that they will return home safely. These simple tips can help construction teams stay polished as they take on another day in the field.