The Importance of a Safety Program in Construction

Admin - June 3, 2023 -

The Importance of a Safety Program in Construction

The most important asset for any construction company is their workers. Without them, no work gets done. The construction industry is one of the most hazardous industries to work in. In 2021 there were 1,008 deaths and 169,200 injuries reported in construction.

To help keep workers safe, and keep production moving, companies rely on construction safety programs and policies. These important documents, along with on-going training and education, can save lives and livelihoods.

Why is a safety program important in construction?

There are several reasons why a safety program is important in the construction industry.

  1. The main goal of a health and safety program is to prevent injuries, illnesses, and deaths. They are designed to protect workers and businesses from the pain and financial hardship that are caused by such incidents.
  2. Other benefits include increased or improved:
    • Production
    • Quality
    • Morale
    • Recruiting
    • Retention
    • Reputation

The difference between a safety program and a safety policy

A health and safety program is a collection of policies interlaced with generalized procedures for addressing health and safety concerns. A safety program is general, addresses broad concepts, and helps define a company’s culture.

A safety policy is specific to an action or hazard. It outlines specific steps or precautions that must be taken when faced with work in a specific area or near a hazard. Examples include how to use a ladder properly or fall protection procedures.

Addressing both health and safety

Particularly post-pandemic, addressing not only safety, but health too, has become more important. Companies are addressing keeping workers healthy so jobs can stay on schedule and productivity stays high. This can mean addressing not only physical health but mental health as well. Because mental health can affect safety on the jobsite, it is particularly important to be mindful of workers’ state of mind.

How to write a construction safety program

OSHA provides a guide to help you write a construction safety program for your company. The guide provides recommended practices that you can use to help create a construction health and safety program. Here we’ll look at some of the key actions you’ll need to take to create a safety program for your company.

  1. Management leadership
    • Communicate, through developing a written program, that safety and health is an important value in your business—as important as productivity, profitability, quality, and customer satisfaction.
    • Define goals and objectives that focus on specific actions that will improve worker safety and health.
    • Provide the resources, both time and money, needed to implement the program.
    • Establish roles and responsibilities and provide an open, positive environment around safety and health issues.
  2. Worker participation
    • Encourage workers to participate in the program.
    • Encourage workers to report safety and health concerns so you can address issues before someone gets hurt or becomes sick.
    • Share safety and health information with workers.
    • Encourage worker input at every step of program design and implementation.
    • In order to participate meaningfully, workers must feel that their input is welcome, they will be heard, and they can access reports and information.
  3. Hazard identification and assessment
    • Collect existing information about jobsite hazards through reports, photos, and other documentation.
    • Frequently and regularly inspect jobsites for hazards, identify problems, and address them before an incident occurs.
    • Identify health hazards, including chemical, physical, biological, and ergonomic.
    • Investigate incidents and near-misses to determine root causes to prevent future problems.
    • Develop plans and procedures for responding to emergency scenarios and non-routine situations.
    • Once hazards have been identified, identify interim control measures, and prioritize each hazard for control.
  4. Hazard prevention and control
    • Investigate options for controlling identified hazards, including asking for worker input and suggestions.
    • Select the controls that are the most feasible, effective, and permanent.
    • Develop and/or update the jobsite hazard control plan, which describes how the selected controls will be implemented.
    • Include provisions to protect workers during non-routine tasks and foreseeable emergencies.
    • Implement controls according to the jobsite hazard control plan.
    • Track progress in implementing controls and inspect and evaluate them once they are installed.
  5. Education and training
    • Provide program awareness training to managers, supervisors, and workers.
    • Train everyone in their role in the program.
    • Train workers in how to identify and control jobsite hazards.
  6. Program evaluation and improvement
    • Define the indicators that will help you track performance and progress, then establish and follow procedures to collect, analyze, and review performance data.
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of the overall program and newer site-specific programs to ensure they are operating as intended.
    • Correct any issues and identify opportunities to improve.

Construction safety program samples

Here are a few construction safety program samples and templates that you can download for free:

Also, check out OSHA Publication 3886, Recommended Practices for Safety & Health Programs in Construction, for further guidance on the practices above.

Here at ACO we can help you design a safety program specific to your company and the work you perform. Contact us for more information or to get started.

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