And the Top Attributes of the World’s Safest Construction Companies
Ask yourself the following question: At the end of a long construction workday, what’s the most important thing?
While it’s easy to think about productivity or work progress as a top of mind answers, you’d be wrong. The real answer? Getting everyone on the job home safely.
The construction workplace, no less–can be a common site for accidents, sometimes fatal ones. OSHA reports more than 14 workplace deaths per day as of 2017, over 20% of which were in the field of construction. While deaths and injuries are dropping, they are still alarmingly prevalent.
That’s why, in construction, valuing safety is one of the highest attributes of a company. Sure, there are rules, regulations and best practices to follow, and most companies do their best to toe the line. But that’s not the same as genuinely prioritizing safety, which is when a company puts the health and lives of its workers above anything else. Unless your primary goal is to get employees home safely at the end of the day, your values probably aren’t quite where they need to be.
Honestly, this is just good business sense. Not prioritizing safety can mean mistakes and issues that can cost significant resources in litigation and fines. Even if no serious issues occur, an unsafe culture can create a trickle-down effect, reducing project efficiency over time. Considering the serious productivity problem in construction today, we can’t afford even the most minor inconveniences that come with safety failures, even if no one gets hurt.
This Construction Safety Week, instead of highlighting the issues when companies aren’t safe, we wanted to recognize those companies that are making an effect to go above and beyond with their safety programs. Accordingly, flip through our SlideShare to learn about 10 of the top safest construction programs in business today:
What Makes a Safe Construction Company?
It goes without saying that some companies are safer than others–but what separates the safe-conscious and the slackers? Here are six traits to look for in the safest construction companies.
1. Safety Is Ingrained in the Culture
First, the safest construction companies have an organization-wide understanding of and buy-in to the safety programs. That means all employees know about which safety steps the company has taken and how they work. This is fully ingrained in the culture, and employees know it’s part of their job to take action on it. No excuses.
The No. 1 spot on our list, Bancroft Construction, truly builds safety into the company culture. According to Brand Manager, Laura McLaine, “Running safe jobsites and maintaining a safe workplace is the right thing to do, but it is also one of the major values on which our company is built.”
Note that means prioritizing safety over efficiency, which is hard to do. Despite the temptation to put deadlines and budgets first, companies should never encourage employees to skimp on safety to make up time. Safety above all is the only way to go.
Also, the safest construction companies prompt participation, beyond the direct company employees. At a safe construction company, all employees on a jobsite, whether they are internal or subs, should be educated on the right process and feel like it’s their duty to be as safe as possible.
2. Continual Training … Forever
For a high standard of safety, a one-and-done training session is not enough. The safest construction companies don’t just strive for the bare minimum requirements, but rather prioritize safety continually. That means frequent training and refreshers, full instruction on each new process or piece of equipment, and an open-door policy regarding safety questions.
Continued training should be a part of the professional development plan of every employee. If your company doesn’t yet have personalized safety training plans put in place for each employee, it’s time to invest in implementing those today.
3. Collaboration and Communication
Communication and collaboration are essential to building trust and relationships on a jobsite–this is a core element to a safe company culture. The safest construction companies know this, but unfortunately, this knowledge is not yet as widespread as it should be.
Even more unfortunately, some traditional methods of construction detract from communication and collaboration. Simply put, old processes like the heavy reliance on email and using Excel to track progress don’t encourage communication–and many outright discourage it. Luckily, there are new tools that help.
For instance, construction productivity software is essential in today’s building sector. It connects the whole jobsite with the most up-to-date information on one easy-to-use platform, significantly reducing the chance of an accident based on out-of-date or incorrect info.
4. Transparency and Documentation
Transparency and accuracy in documentation correlate strongly to good communication, and therefore they’re both critical to jobsite safety. The world’s safest construction companies always aim to create solid practices around documentation and control, preferably using cloud-based collaboration programs that enable the whole team to access up-to-date information whenever they need it.
This reduces the risk of missing information and data that could create hazards to jobsite staff. Plus, more information paints a clearer picture of what’s going on, so teams are always prepped for the day and throughout the project lifecycle.
5. High-Quality Equipment and Gear
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is obviously an OSHA requirement and readily available on every jobsite. However, while a safe company culture and ample training will help to ensure employees know why and how to use it, they need to do more. They should aim to provide the right PPE for all their employees’ needs, not just some of them.
For instance, certain gear is standardized and not necessarily meant for varying body types; women disproportionally suffer from ill-fitting PPE. Safe companies will ensure they have the right gear for everybody (literally every body) and that it’s always up to date with for the latest standards.
6. The Ability to Think Outside the Box
Being proactive about safety isn’t always a black and white situation. It sometimes requires contractors to think outside of the box to solve problems. A company with an excellent safety program ensures that employees are incentivized to innovate on safety. That way, if they see a lack, they have the proper motivation to do something about it, rather than simply move on with business as usual.
Great Lakes Construction, No. 4 on our list, encourages precisely this type of creative thinking from employees. As a result of this attitude, one employee came up with a novel device that holds jackhammers in place.
“Because this device allowed our employees to work safer, with less stress on the body, we rewarded the employee with a $1,000 cash prize,” says Safety Director William Hocevar. Now that’s the kind of carrot we’re talking about: one that will lead to a truly team-oriented, safety-first site.
Safety First: Build Your Business by Diminishing Danger
What lesson should we take away from our 10 shining stars, as well as the advice in this post? Pretty simple, really: The safest construction companies invest in safety, period. If you’re not emphasizing reducing hazards, instituting safety protocols, training all workers and becoming proactive in every nook and cranny of the jobsite, then you could be doing more.
Because while a construction business is made of materials, designs, orders, life cycles, spreadsheets and so much more, it’s the people who make things go. Your business will suffer unless they’re happy, healthy and secure. So let’s honor those people this week and throughout the year by bumping safety to the top of the priority list–and leaving it there for good.