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FIVE ATTRIBUTES OF A SAFETY-FIRST COMPANY

04-07-2017
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Injury and death aren’t usually high on the list of concerns for the average office worker. But for those working in the construction industry, the risks can be significant. Each year, there are hundreds of workplace accidents and dozens of injury-related fatalities. There’s no denying that the construction industry is an incredibly dangerous one, and encouraging safe practices is something every company must exercise and improve on each year.

The ‘fatal five’ – the construction industry’s accident culprits - were responsible for 82.07% of worker deaths from 2003 to 2014. Falls from a height, vehicle incidents, contact with electricity, being hit by moving objects and being hit by falling objects are all potentially deadly issues workers in the industry face. And while we shouldn’t ignore other workplace hazards, placing greater emphasis on these five culprits is essential to combating risk.

Sadly, accidents and injuries are no strangers to construction work. Thus, it’s absolutely vital companies have the best practices for safety, and work diligently in raising awareness and protecting our people. What make a construction company truly stand out? Safety first.

1 Compliance with the latest health and safety requirements

There are strict regulations in place for the industry and a safety-first company must comply with them all. These building and construction codes across Australia are designed to reduce the number of accidents and facilities in the workplace. Although it’s a necessity that companies conform to these industry standards, those that go above and beyond them to make a difference in safety are rewarded.

Safety-first companies are committed to more than just meeting these requirements. And it shows in their delivery of high-quality work and workplace health and safety awards. When dealing with a construction company, look at its safety achievement awards and certifications. Those companies that pride themselves on a safe working environment will have multiple honours in this area, and be certified in OH&S.

2 Embracing a strong safety culture

Embracing a strong safety culture leads to improved OH&S and organisational performance. It’s not just about keeping the workplace safe, it means delving deeper into the issue. This helps to create relevant and useful ways of understanding the correlation between the safety behaviour of employees and contractors and the organisation. Companies with a strong safety culture work hard to create awareness and educate staff. They understand that safety is a good business for everyone, and strive to make the long-term health of employees a priority.

By developing this culture within, employees learn what actions will be rewarded, tolerated and punished. It keeps the entire organisation in check with safety practices, and influences what behaviour staff initiate and maintain. It encourages positive safety attitudes and outcomes and demonstrates leadership. These practices directly relate to safety performance and are vital to the development of a strong safety culture.

3 Offering ongoing training and support

Awareness and education go hand-in-hand with training and support - a vital attribute of a safety-first company. Workers cannot be expected to go on site if they’re not educated in safe working practices. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has ample resources to assist organisations in training new employees on the latest safety regulations. On-site training opportunities are available too.

Begin educating new employees on the company’s safety policies from the get go to avoid bad habits taking root. Companies should invest in relevant training and support to encourage employees to be aware of their role, and how they affect the safety performance of the overall organisation.

4 Conducting regular safety meetings

Regular reinforcement of safe working practices can be done in weekly or monthly meetings. Safety-first companies will make these meetings a priority and use them as a valuable way to strengthen company policies. This encourages workers to ask questions to better understand the safety rules, and promotes better planning and organisation of projects to boost a safe working environment.

These meetings keep the level of communication open within the organisation too. Construction companies must also set up proper communication strategies on site. Plans and techniques can identify potential hazards and be used to brief staff on current safety concerns before entering the site.

5 Ensuring all equipment and machinery is maintained and up-to-date

Companies that pride themselves on safe working environments will have equipment and machinery that reflects this. Employees should be equipped with proper equipment for the job that has all been kept well maintained. Each piece of equipment or machinery used on site will be ideally suited to the task.

Safety-first also means that other equipment that’s not directly related to the project is to be provided on site too. This includes having plenty of water on site for employees and contractors, and for longer projects a shade area set up to store equipment and provide some cover to the site.

Companies that pride themselves on safety are smart. Not only do they keep their workers safe and happy, but the strong safety culture reduces costs within the organisation, improves employee retention and avoids fines and legal action. It’s also about setting a good example and making a positive impression too.

Jayde Ferguson writes for DM Civil based in Perth, Western Australia, providing safe, tailored and sustainable civil contracting services to Australia’s leading construction companies.

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