Improving workplace safety at construction sites

Applying a "Zero Tolerance" policy to safety violations is – or should be – the goal of every at-risk business enterprise. Keeping employees and managers mindful of safety at all times is essential, and employers have to be dutiful in providing the means of getting the message through to workers about jobsite and workplace safety. Over the years, the means at the disposal of employers has ballooned to the point where safety is an industry unto itself: tool box talks, training, 10-hour and 30-hour OSHA classes and certifications, HazMat training, publications, and recordkeeping are standard fare for every industrial concern. Accountability is mandatory: there is no end to driving the message home to workers.

The most frequent causes of construction accidents
The most frequent causes of construction site accidents according to OSHA (for 2010) are as follows:

  • Falls – 264 out of 774 total deaths in construction in CY 2010 (34%)

  • Electrocutions – 76 (10%)

  • Struck by Object – 64 (8%)

  • Caught-in/between – 33 (4%)

OSHA calls these “construction's Fatal Four," and while falls appear disproportionate, they are also the most preventable types of accidents. While these statistics reflect fatalities, the high incidence of falls due to other kinds of accidents points to areas of industry work where we have considerable degree of control, involving adequate housekeeping and proper tie-off for elevated work.

The Bottom Line

Money spent proactively can offset what amounts to indirect costs that strike the bottom line of profits, those costs associated with a reactive safety program: work stoppage/loss of production due to an accident, time spent by management in follow-up and administrative costs, training and/or replacement of employees, all affecting overall schedule performance.

For employers, the direct cost benefits of having a sound safety program are reflected in reductions of lost time due to accidents and less exposure to higher insurance premiums.

The Benefits of Teamwork

An effective program is an "all-in" approach to safety, where employees are stakeholders, having an interest in the positive effects of a safe environment (aside from their own personal safety at stake) and benefit from a team approach to safety.

Digital Safety Scoreboards: An Effective team-Oriented Solution

An excellent method for keeping the message present and highly visible is installing a digital safety scoreboard in the workplace/jobsite where employees have a constant barometer of their performance. These LED devices project information on the current accident rate, the time elapsed since any previous accidents and more general information on health and safety policies.

As an integral part of a comprehensive safety program, digital safety scoreboards offer a soft approach along the lines of education and training to prevent accidents before they can occur. But they also provide a method of measurement that is palpable to the boots-on-the-ground employee.

Used in conjunction with other passive as well as hard approaches to safety practices, safety signboards address accidents in an ever-present manner as a daily reminder for both a company and its workers. The digital safety signboard reflects job performance and provides immediate feedback, ingredients vitally necessary for any strong safety program. It instills a sense of accountability for the entire team through the use of performance measures that replicate industry standards.

Alongside other safety tools and activities (new hire orientations, safety inspections, hazard analysis, and safety meetings), the digital safety scoreboard gives employees a sense of ownership for the aspect of their work that most affects them: their welfare.

Digital Safety Scoreboard Signs More than in some other fields, industrial workers rely on teamwork to keep each other safe. Digital safety scoreboards help emphasize teamwork on the job.