Nearly 6.5 million people work at more than 250,000 construction sites across the country each day. Unfortunately, the fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average for all industries.
Potential hazards for construction workers include:
- Falls (from heights)
- Trench collapse
- Scaffold collapse
- Electric shock and arc flash/arc blast
- Failure to use proper personal protective equipment
- Repetitive motion injuries
However, by taking steps to prevent injuries on the job, you’re helping to safeguard your employees and your business. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs provides general guidance for implementing a health and safety program. These programs help businesses:
- Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
- Improve compliance with laws and regulations
- Reduce costs, including reductions in workers’ compensation premiums
- Engage workers
- Enhance their social responsibility goals
- Increase productivity and enhance overall business operations
For every dollar spent on a workers’ comp claim, $5 is spent on indirect costs, like lost productivity, hiring and retraining staff, and replacing or repairing damaged equipment.
Whether your employees are carpenters, roofers, drywall installers, electricians, excavators, deck builders, siding installers, or pavers, by developing a safety plan and following construction safety best practices, you’ll help ensure that your construction workers have a safe work environment. Additionally, with safety apps and other new technologies now available, small construction businesses have more resources than ever to help keep their team members safe.
Workplace safety tips for construction company owners
By implementing proper safety techniques, you can help reduce the number of workers’ comp claims made by your employees—and even reduce your overall costs. Be sure that all employees, even part-time help and trainees, are well trained in safety procedures.
Here are some tips to keep your workers safe:
- Adequately train workers on the health and safety issues applicable in their worksites
- Provide a written hazard communication program to employees that includes a list of all of the hazardous materials at the worksite and an explanation of how you will comply with OSHA’s standards for each
- Train workers and provide literature in a language that workers will understand
- If required, only allow workers who are qualified or certified complete certain tasks
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Keep a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) related to each of the chemicals used by your company
- Allow workers enough time to work safely
- Rotate employees’ tasks, especially those that require using the same motion over and over
- Consider using mechanical equipment to do repetitive employee tasks
- Consider providing slip-resistant footwear to employees, since it can reduce as much as 75 percent of work-related slips and falls
- Provide enough ladders of the right height for the job site
- Provide training in safe lifting methods
- Keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses
- Provide medical exams when required by OSHA regulations and provide workers access to medical and exposure records
Perhaps most importantly, require that all employee injuries—no matter how small—are reported immediately.
Safety guide for construction workers
Require your workers to read and indicate their understanding of OSHA’s Pocket Guide on construction worker safety. This guide provides hundreds of tips, best practices, and resources to make each job site safe for all employees.
How to prepare for unexpected injuries
While you can’t plan for every type of emergency, every workplace should at least have a plan for handling injuries. The plan should explicitly detail how workers should report injuries and how to get help promptly by:
- Explaining how employees should contact medical personnel if needed
- Including the location of first-aid kits, gloves, and other protective equipment available for staff (lacerations and puncture wounds should be immediately treated and disinfected to prevent infection)
- Ensuring workers know how to report an incident where there is exposure to blood sure workers know how to report an incident where there is exposure to blood.
How to incentivize safety in your construction business
Accidents can happen anywhere—especially in the construction industry. Remind employees why safety training is important and provide continual reminders and retraining.
To help encourage your workers to make safety a priority at work, consider offering prizes or awards for those who follow the safety program or hit time milestones while remaining injury-free. Prizes like lottery scratch-offs, coffee gift cards, or 30 minutes of extra paid-time-off can help motivate your team.
Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As best practices change regularly, you should refer to your trusted advisor for specific counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workplace safety or check your workers’ comp rate in 3 minutes.