4 steps to building a smarter and safer construction site
Construction sites often face a range of potential risks — some of which are obvious, while others remain largely hidden. The range of possible risks increases the potential for danger in the workplace, but preparation, a safety-centric site culture and the right tools can make a significant difference in proactive safety management practices. As a result, in an increasingly connected construction workforce, companies and contractors are now looking for ways to improve their construction site safety.
“Upgrading your onsite technology in any construction project can help improve safety on job sites for all personnel. By implementing smart devices, streamlining team collaboration, making the most of project management platforms and real-time equipment monitoring, construction companies can better understand potential safety risks and take proactive steps to address them,” said Bart Crowther, Regional Lead, PlanRadar.
What is a construction safety plan?
A construction site safety plan outlines safety protocols and procedures for a construction project and is aimed at keeping workers safe and prepared for potential hazards. It should be developed before the start of the project and closely followed throughout.
Essential elements include key stakeholders, safety officers and responsibilities, contact information, project details and potential hazards and avoidance methods. All employees must review and understand the plan before starting construction work to ensure compliance with health and safety codes.
How can organisations build a safer construction site?
“To promote safety and prevent accidents on construction sites, companies must prioritise work health and safety for their workers. This not only minimises risks but also attracts and retains top talent, reduces employee turnover and strengthens the team. Companies with a strong reputation for workplace safety are valued in the industry and achieve this through time, effort and resources,” Crowther said.
Four ways to improve construction site safety include:
1. Establish a safety-first worksite
A strong safety culture on a construction site starts with leadership. Business owners, head contractors and project managers must understand safety goals and procedures and create industry-compliant protocols for all workers.
An effective safety culture is achieved through:
- empowering all construction site staff to participate in safety processes
- training all workers on safety procedures
- encouraging workers to raise safety concerns
- a thorough investigation of all safety concerns by management
- making worker and public safety a top priority
- maintaining full accountability to prevent future incidents.
2. Use personal protective equipment
Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is critical for construction workers to stay safe on job sites where hazards are ubiquitous. Essential gear can include equipment such as hard hats, safety harnesses, eye and face protection, protective clothing and more. Proper PPE reduces injury risks during incidents and should be specified in the company’s construction site safety plan. A safety officer should be onsite to check every worker before their shift starts and keep an eye on their protective equipment throughout the day.
3. Provide up-to-date safety training and assign onsite safety responsibilities
Each worker on a construction site is assigned to different activities of the project. This means that for each role, the workers are exposed to different hazards and risks that require different management and mitigation.
Aside from the general training provided by the company, the company should also provide specific safety protocols for employees handling different work assignments. These workplace safety procedures must be specific and accurate to the activities being conducted at all times. They should also be written in the construction safety plan and be taught to new hires or old workers that changed roles in the construction project.
4. Bring the latest technology onsite
Integrating technology and software into construction improves efficiency, quality and smart decision-making. Currently, the market offers a range of safety-focused construction technologies, including virtual reality training, drone inspections and real-time wearable monitoring.
Other technological advancements support worksite safety from start to finish of the project. For example, a construction health and safety platform can be used to:
- enhance access to safety information, processes, assessments and reports
- streamline delivery of safety reminders and procedures
- facilitate efficient health and safety assessments and incident reporting
- ensure retrievability of safety assessment reports for audits
- address recurring safety issues effectively.
Construction safety plan templates, customisable for each project and location, can also enhance safety plans. Health and safety offices can design and manage these templates, which are accessible to users.
As the construction industry continues to grow, it’s important that workplace health and safety remains a top priority. Construction companies should work with safety experts to ensure that the appropriate safety measures are in place for their building projects. By taking the time to assess the risks and put appropriate safety measures in place, construction sites can be safer places for workers and the public.
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