Construction projects are UNIQUE; Construction processes are DYNAMIC, that is why Project-Specific Safety Programs are essential for workplace safety
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics When you compare the construction industry to other industries in the United States, it is the most hazardous industry. That is, the highest number of injuries and fatalities are recorded in the construction industry. As a result of this, OSHA recommends that every construction employer/contractor should have a construction safety program in place to cater for workplace hazards that could occur on the jobsite and actively promote safety on the construction site.
What is a Construction safety Program?
A construction safety program is a safety strategy developed on a jobsite to provide protection for every worker and visitor on the jobsite, usually throughout the lifespan of a project. Since every construction project is unique, it is best to design the safety program to be project-specific.
How is an effective safety program prepared?
The first step towards achieving an effective safety program is to ensure that the top management show commitment to safety to protect employees from injuries because they will be the one to provide the resources necessary to implement the safety program. Not only that, the supervisors will be made responsible for the safety of workers who respond to them; and every employee is responsible for performing his/her job safely. Secondly, a qualified safety manager with work experience should be hired to handle the safety responsibility of the company. This manager will head a team of about 3-5 members comprising of representatives of top managers, subcontractors, and front-line employees. This team will meet regularly to discuss safety, productivity and maintenance, and general issue affecting the company. The safety committee will document their activities and make them available to all employees. Next, the safety and health requirements of the workplace will be determined and each workplace safety and health program will be specific to the site and its operations. Then, the safety committee will conduct a job hazard analysis to identify hazards or potential hazards on the job site, and areas with a history of workplace incidents deserve maximum attention. The committee should provide safety solutions where appropriate and conduct investigations to understand if the safety solution has not created a new hazard. Furthermore, with the support of management and the involvement of employees, the committee should develop well-written safety policies and procedures that will include prompt injury reporting requirements, provision for approving previously injured workers to work when medically fit to do so. Afterward, as a way to encourage two-way communication between the management and the employees, workers should have access to the safety committee, its recommendations, and documentation. There should also be an open door policy and suggestion boxes made available to encourage the workforce’s attitudes toward safety performance. Safety personnel should conduct periodic safety inspections to identify safety issues and breaches of safety regulations and policies.
Recognized hazards in a workplace might constitute a violation of laws and regulations, cause injuries or fatality and as a result of that, hazards must be correctly controlled upon their identification at a workplace and all available resources must be devoted to eliminating all identified hazards. Once the hazards in the workplace are corrected, steps must be taken to ensure that the workplace is hazard-free, and all work rules are obeyed. Afterward, implementation of protective measures must follow such as providing personal protective equipment and technologies, compliance with equipment manuals, and employee involvement in the discussion of methods. Furthermore, management should organize high engagement training for employees to improve their safety knowledge and skills, and help them develop positive safety behaviors and attitudes. Besides, training will be part of new employee orientation. Regular safety training or Toolbox talks should be held before jobs (especially those that will expose them to hazards) and all training will be adequately documented. An emergency response plan must be put in place to handle unforeseen situations e.g. fire outbreaks that might cause serious havoc at the workplace. Finally, the safety program can be implemented, and after implementation, periodic evaluations must be conducted to determine its success in achieving safety objectives and goals.
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