You can’t overemphasize the importance of jobsite safety.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,190 workplace fatalities in 2021. This number is undeniable evidence that jobsite safety should always be front of mind.
This article will cover everything you need to know about jobsite safety, including:
Jobsite safety isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s defined by specific legal and regulatory requirements.
Here is a list of tasks that must be met and completed for your construction site to be considered safe.
This government organization is the top dog when it comes to laying out the mandatory jobsite safety standards.
They also provide information, training, certifications, and documents to aid all entities in meeting these standards.
OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is also responsible for regulating the compliance of these standards. If they find a party failing to heed these rules, disciplinary actions could ensue.
So it only makes sense that the first step to jobsite safety is to align your standards with theirs.
Learn the jobsite safety compliance requirements that OSHA has outlined specifically for the construction industry under the 29 CFR Standards.
Jobsite safety documentation is a critical part of OSHA compliance. In fact, records must be retained for a number of years (exact number dependent on document type).
Each employee, depending on their responsibilities and title, should have certain OSHA courses completed in order to be permitted to perform their given tasks.
Read OSHA’s full list of training requirements based on industry to ensure your employees are fully certified.
Then make a record of each employee’s OSHA certifications.
You must set up a documentation system to not only inform your workers what the safety plan is, but also report any accidents that occur due to the failure to adhere to it.
Although all safety objectives remain the same, every jobsite will require creating a site-specific safety plan.
What you may be concerned with on one project could be irrelevant for the next.
What elements need to be included in a construction safety plan?
You’ll also want to comply with OSHA by posting the proper signage where necessary to inform any who enter what kind of hazards are present.
There are signs to warn, caution, and instruct.
Most construction sites begin by placing a large sign on the entrance to the site with multiple warnings, notices, and instructions, but more may be necessary.
For example, a biological hazard sign must be placed in a visible place close to the area where this hazard is present.
OSHA also provides plenty of fact sheets you can use to make good safety decisions in certain situations you may face during your project.
Recording and record keeping of any accidents on your jobsite is also an OSHA requirement.
With each injury or illness reported, there is a form that should be filled out.
Of course, not every knick and splinter needs to be reported. However, any injury that requires more than basic first aid should be reported.
Once you have your plan in place, you’ll need a method to maintain and enforce that plan to be upheld by your entire crew.
A big part of keeping a job site safe is to keep the equipment safe to use. Don’t allow the use of faulty equipment placement in dangerous situations.
Make sure each worker uses the right tools for each corresponding job.
Taking proper care of heavy equipment is a big part of keeping it safe to use.
Loose parts, frayed wires, or rusty pieces can make an otherwise safe tool unusable and dangerous.
The same goes for vehicles and large machinery.
This example of a preventative maintenance checklist is a good starting point. You can adjust it to fit the needs of your job site.
You can’t expect the jobsite safety plan to be followed without proper supervision and oversight.
There also needs to be a system of discipline and consequences when construction workers fail to adhere to safety protocols.
We’ll go into further detail about some tactics you should include in your jobsite safety enforcement in the next section.
To make jobsite safety a success, you need to set it up with the proper staging.
To keep your jobsite free of clutter, you should have ample storage space for materials and equipment.
All crew members should easily find the tools and PPE needed for each workday.
Accidents happen even with the most attentive crew.
You should have a particular area on your worksite equipped with first aid items to treat any injuries resulting from these accidents.
OSHA does regulate the necessary first aid requirements for a construction site.
Some areas of the jobsite will pose more of a threat from potential hazards than others.
Cord off or barricade high-hazard areas such as trenches and excavations.
You’ll also want to consider some ways you can protect your workers from electrocution in zones with these safety hazards.
OSHA requires workers and subcontractors to follow safety procedures and to be educated in those procedures.
Workers will need training, reminders, and reinforcement to do their part in creating a safe place to work.
Even the most seasoned construction worker is required to complete safety training.
As we already discussed, OSHA requires all workers of a certain industry to complete general and specific safety training.
As you train your new hires, and while they are taking their OSHA classes, pair them up with safety-conscious veterans to learn the ropes, the most common risks of injury, and good safety habits.
You will need to review your safety plan with new workers and provide them with a printed copy of their onboarding paperwork.
Invest in your training program. A safety program is only effective when all workers know the dangers and tactics to reduce them. Learn how best to deliver this training here.
Don’t leave all the education to OSHA. Workplace safety can be extensive, and you can’t expect your workers to remember it all at once. Periodically test your workers on their retention of their safety training.
To keep safety on workers’ minds, they’ll need constant reminders and reinforcements. “Toolbox talks” may be necessary when a concern is raised.
Discussions of where they are succeeding and where they need to improve can help ward off any more risks.
Keep crews updated on new hazards or better safety implementation tactics as they come along.
Trip and falls are one of the leading workplace hazards, and a messy job site increases the likelihood of these trips and falls.
A disorganized worksite is like a dangerous obstacle course.
That is why a good jobsite housekeeping protocol needs to be followed while working.
Every person stepping onto a jobsite should be wearing personal protective equipment, whether these individuals are crew members, subcontractors, or project owners.
Items such as hard hats, earplugs, and safety glasses should be available for visitors.
The work crew should follow the proper dress code with their own PPE according to OSHA provided regulations.
Not only do all workers need to wear the necessary PPE, but the managers must ensure all PPE fits well and is in good working order. There should be no rips or broken pieces, and items shouldn’t be too loose or tight. Workers should be fit tested where applicable (for example, respiratory protection).
Encourage workers to address safety concerns with their supervisor. It’s important to promote communication.
Don’t hinder communication, and don’t make workers feel like they will be punished for doing so.
Acknowledge workers practicing good safety measures and highlight that safety requires teamwork. Everyone plays a role in and is responsible for safety at the job site.
Risk inspections must be conducted frequently to detect hazards before an accident happens.
These can be done by conducting walkthroughs or using cameras and/or drones.
When risks are found, accountability needs to follow. Point out the lack of safety and required improvements to resolve these safety issues.
Safety involves all levels of supervision.
Although you may have a professional on-site with the role of safety manager, the following parties should always help out:
Keeping a construction site as safe as possible is an ongoing and multi-faceted job with many challenges.
However, when everyone has the same safe mentality, your chance of success greatly increases.
Note: Know your due diligence in having a competent person onsite and the difference between competent and qualified.
After reading through all the work and forethought involved in jobsite safety, you may feel overwhelmed.
Before looking for ways to make it easier, consider first the reasons and benefits of putting forth all this effort.
Let’s consider what could happen if you neglect your responsibility of upholding safety standards on your project.
First, if OSHA gets wind of it, you’ll no doubt pay some hefty fines. If accidents occur on your jobsite regularly, you’ll be paying much higher rates for insurance. If any lawsuits ensue, you may also accrue a judgment.
Accidents will cause project delays and a ruined reputation as an employer or contractor.
Let’s not forget that the overall objective of jobsite safety is to protect human life.
An unsafe jobsite creates a high-stress work environment. This will, in turn, create low worker morale and cause you to lose some essential workers.
When safety on the job is a priority, you prove that you care about your workers’ physical and mental health.
Workers will be more apt to stick around for a job like that.
When you place the safety of your worksite of the utmost importance, you will become known for a high safety standard.
Word will spread from jobsite visitors, county officials, and even your crew.
You will be respected as a reputable company, which could improve your community relations and even the backing of influential decision-makers in your area.
Workers that feel safe will have higher morale and a better productivity rate.
A safe jobsite benefits all parties involved with construction companies, stakeholders, and employees alike.
Safe working conditions should always be a top priority for project owners.
By following these safety tips, you can benefit from a project free from unnecessary delays, OSHA fines, unhappy crew members, and a ruined reputation.
On the contrary, a safe working environment produces hard-working and happy crew members, a stellar reputation, and — best of all — the knowledge that you do everything you can to protect human life.
If you’re looking for a crew for your upcoming project that will always do things safely, look no further than FMP Construction. Contact us today for a quote!