It’s a missed opportunity to help keep workers safe.
Most contractors — 80 percent — use site-specific safety and health plans according to a new Dodge SmartMarket report. But site-specific training for all employees and contractors is used by just 73 percent of contractors surveyed, and that percentage shrinks to 54 in companies with fewer than 20 employees.
That means lots of workers are walking onto jobsites with little or no education on the specific hazards they should expect or how to mitigate them. For example, what health threats are posed by materials that will be used, and what PPE should be worn for protection? Where are the fire extinguishers on site? What are the evacuation routes in case of emergency?
Site-specific safety training makes safety programs more effective because of its immediate relevancy.
The first step in designing site-specific training is performing a job hazard analysis for each project task to determine the potential risks. This is a process required as part of the site-specific safety plan (SSSP) most contractors use. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that construction companies use these analyses to create a safer workplace.
Then comes the training. It might include:
- A site orientation that details emergency procedures, evacuation routes, first aid provisions, the location of fire extinguishers, the location of restricted areas, waste management requirements, the traffic management plan, etc.
- A review of site safety rules and how to report incidents and hazardous situations
- A review of site-specific hazards workers may encounter, such as confined spaces or working at height, with instruction on how workers should protect themselves
- Weekly or daily safety meetings or toolbox talks specific to tasks that will be performed by each trade, with tips on hazard mitigation
- On-the-spot, as-needed instruction from safety managers.
A well-planned site-specific training program can round out a comprehensive safety plan and help ensure that all trades and laborers are doing their part to stay safe every day on the job.
Kim Slowey is a writer who has been active in the construction industry for 25 years and is licensed as a certified general contractor in Florida. She received her BA in Mass Communications/Journalism from the University of South Florida and has experience in both commercial and residential construction.