Improving Jobsite Safety: 6 Measures that Move the Needle

According to an ABC report, following these best practices can make construction companies quantifiably safer.

Would you like improve your company’s safety performance but aren’t sure what measures provide the biggest ROI? The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) 2018 Safety Performance Report contains some valuable takeaways.

For the report, ABC compared safety measures undertaken by members who participated in its 2017 Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP), a safety benchmarking and improvement tool, with incident rates as reported on form 300A to see what correlations emerged.

STEP is comprised of 20 “key components,” preventive measures that are proven to improve safety performance. Companies participating in STEP score their level of achievement for each component. By comparing the companies’ self-assessments with injury data, ABC was able to quantify the value of the different measures and identify six that have the biggest impact on safety outcomes. Here are the six.  

A substance abuse program

Drug and alcohol use contributes to one-third of all safety incidents on jobsites. Companies that have a written substance abuse program/policy with a provision for drug and alcohol testing where permitted are more than 60 percent safer than those that don’t, according to the findings.

Safety orientations for new hires

Most companies conduct safety orientations for new hires, but the ones that put in extra time and effort see real payoffs. According to the report, companies that use a documented process to conduct an in-depth orientation of new hires into the company’s safety culture, systems and processes have nearly 50 percent lower incident rates than companies that cover only basic safety and health compliance topics. And companies that conduct new hire orientation sessions that last more than 200 minutes on average reduce their total recordable incident rates (TRIRs) by 85 percent.

In-depth orientations by senior leadership emphasize the importance of safety and provide a thorough explanation of the company’s safety program and policies. They include:

  • An overview of the employer’s expectations about safety and workers’ responsibilities
  • Specific rules for working safely on sites and around hazards
  • Emergency response and reporting procedures

As part of these orientations, companies also demonstrate the use of safety gear and assign a safety mentor to each new hire for the duration of their orientation period.

Site-specific safety orientations

Want to reduce your TRIR and DART (days away from work, restricted work activity or jobs transfer) rate? Begin each new job with a safety orientation for employees that includes a review of your company’s safety policies and procedures and an analysis of specific hazards they’re likely to face at the site.

RELATED: Tips for Instituting a Site-Specific Safety Plan

The safest companies emphasize the importance of peer observations of safety practices and provide stop-work authority when workers witness unsafe behaviors.

Daily toolbox talks

If you’ve ever wondered whether talking about safety each and every day is really that important, here’s your answer: Companies that spend 15 to 30 minutes discussing safety every day have 60 percent lower TRIRs compared to companies that hold weekly toolbox talks.

Near miss reporting and analysis

Companies that track near misses, investigate them promptly, determine what caused them and take corrective actions reduced their TRIR rates by 61 percent and their DART rates by 63 percent.

A site safety committee that meets regularly

Companies that have active safety committees see 23 to 25 percent fewer jobsite incidents. The best committees are made up of volunteers or employees selected by their peers, with representation from all subs as well as the client, and they meet at least weekly to identify and correct safety concerns.

The site supervisor should perform weekly inspections and document the results for the safety committee. Any safety issues identified should be promptly addressed.

These six practices aren’t overly complex or hard to implement; in fact, every contractor should follow them. With the reduction in injuries and missed work days they yield, they will provide a good ROI for companies that are serious about safety.

Source: Associated Builders and Contractors. Information from the 2018 Safety Performance Report republished with permission.

Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.


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