How to make safety a priority for your team

How to Make Safety a Priority for Your Team

Workplace safety is every employer’s responsibility, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple safety procedures, like posting informational signage, are enough to protect workers and ensure compliance with all relevant safety regulations.

Such procedures are aimed at helping employees remain aware of all potential hazards and helping them respond properly when at risk.

Let’s take a look at how to make safety a priority on your project site so your crews can be safe and productive at the same time.

1) Implement a Safety Plan and Train Everyone On It

OSHA requires most employers to establish an emergency action plan (EAP) that must meet minimal safety requirements. For hazardous worksites, including construction sites, EAPs may need to be quite detailed to accomplish their purpose. However, these basic requirements are expected in every EAP:

  • What an evacuation response should look like, including the location of emergency exits and escape routes. This part of the EAP should have floorplans or sitemaps to visualize the process.
  • What medical or fire authorities to contact in the event of an emergency. The contact information for those authorities should be included in this section.
  • How the company will alert staff when an emergency does occur. Further, companies are expected to have procedures in place for contacting family or next of kin in the event of an accident.
  • How the business will train every employee on the EAP and how the EAP will be updated over time.

An EAP with the above policies may meet OSHA’s minimum requirements for most employers, but for construction businesses and other companies working in high-risk industries, there are additional concerns to address. For example, an EAP developed for a construction site should also include the following:

  • The location and nature of all worksite hazards.
  • The location of all emergency resources, such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, protective wear, eye wash stations and showers.
  • Who is responsible for enforcing all safety processes and how this responsibility is handed off between managers when there’s a shift in onsite personnel.

Employers should think of their EAP as a centralized, top-level safety resource that guides all safety-related decisions.

2) Identify All Hazards and Invest in Safety Signage to Alert Work Crews

An EAP is a necessary first step in ensuring safety, but informational resources like safety signage can provide an additional layer of protection.

Occupational safety signage is purpose-built for hazard awareness and is intended to be posted close to the relevant hazard. OSHA and ANSI standards recommend installing signage in a high-visibility area so workers can identify the hazard before they are exposed to it, whether it’s a fire, mechanical, electrocution, chemical or other type of hazard. At the minimum, employees should be able to see the posted signage from at least five feet away.

As for the signage itself, effectiveness and durability are the priorities, and a commercial printer can ensure both. A commercial printer experienced in safety signage will have a library of designs that companies can pick from, each one made to ANSI standards. This includes the proper use of typography, color, and iconography to ensure maximum visibility.

Working with a trusted commercial printer ensures the resources needed to print on durable materials won’t be an issue. Aluminum is preferred by construction companies because of its perfect mix of durability, corrosion resistance and light weight. Experienced commercial printers can deploy specialized processes, like dibond printing, to create designs on aluminum.

3) Ensure Safety Preparedness With Regular Training Drills and Inspections

Creating an EAP isn’t sufficient if the plan is never tested. It’s during safety training and inspections that the EAP’s weaknesses are revealed. Once they are, the plan can be reinforced so any problems are resolved before they result in injuries on the job.

That’s why it’s important for the company’s personnel to have safety drills from time to time.

Some important things to keep in mind when organizing safety drills include:

  • Test at random intervals. It’s been said that complacency is the enemy of safety, and if people know exactly when to expect a drill, they may become less vigilant between those drills.
  • Try to include a couple of surprises. A curveball or two will test whether or not your people are capable of adapting to emergencies as they arise, and not just because they know what to expect.
  • Conduct the drills in the same work environment in which your employees may encounter an emergency. This way, employees will already know what to do and where to go if something does happen on the job site.
  • Alert any medical or fire contacts prior to the safety drill. If something does go wrong during a drill and additional assistance is necessary, keeping medical and fire resources on alert will provide a needed safety backup.

4) Establish a Culture of Safety That Starts at the Management Level

All EAP procedures should be understood and reinforced at every level of the company, from top to bottom. This starts with the business leaders, who are sometimes kept out of the loop regarding safety procedures. However, it’s the company’s leadership that’s ultimately responsible for minimizing accidents and protecting employees’ well-being. As such, the company’s management should be prepared to lead safety training or at least advocate for its importance to employees.

This top-to-bottom approach means employees should also be part of the safety planning process. In fact, they should have a large say in what safety equipment should be available and what steps should be taken to protect worker health.

At the project site, everyone should be looking out for each other. Managers should keep an eye on changing field conditions (monitoring temperature, for example) and workers should alert onsite safety personnel as soon as an injury occurs.

Make Safety a Priority So Your Team Can Do Its Job Efficiently and Safely

Every reputable contractor knows that safety cannot be compromised. It’s a must to ensure the project remains on time and accident-free. Fortunately, effective safety measures are simple to establish as long as the commitment and resources are there. That includes putting together an emergency action plan, installing well-designed, durable safety signage and scheduling regular training drills to keep everyone up to speed on all safety procedures.

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