For site safety to be effective, it must be ingrained into the culture of construction and engineering firms. While every firm knows that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state-level labor departments mandate certain safety standards, it’s not enough to begrudgingly abide by these requirements.
If a construction company considers safety efforts as a mere obligation, the site workers will inherently look for opportunities for lax adherence.
So, what are six ways you can improve safety and further ingrain it into your workplace culture?
Construction Site Safety: Cultural Improvements
Creating a culture of on-site safety requires buy-in. Ideally, site staff will recognize that safety measures exist to keep them from harm, although that isn’t always the case.
Six methods for adopting a safety culture and encouraging buy-in are by:
Setting a top-down example – Site managers and other authoritative personnel must not only adhere to requirements and expectations for your safety initiative but also do so readily and enthusiastically.
Creating open communication channels – Ensure that workers have the means and encouragement to bring safety concerns to the attention of appropriate staff.
Designating a “do not use” area – If workers identify faulty equipment, what “next step” is covered in their safety training? Do they merely set damaged or improperly working tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) aside that another worker could mistakenly use? Instead, establish a “do not use” area on-site to set aside suspected faulty equipment for assessment, repair, or disposal.
Periodically assessing and replacing – All tools, equipment, and PPE should be evaluated to ensure proper operation depending on its wear, tear, and maintenance cycles (yearly or quarterly, for example) as a formalized and consistent process.
Researching improvements and regulations – As part of your assessment and replacement efforts, you should research whether new improvements have been made. This is also a good time to double-check whether OSHA and other applicable regulatory agencies have issued new memos or directives, as publishing is often infrequent.
Incentivizing workers – Unfortunately, some workers will inevitably view safety requirements as an unnecessary burden. To encourage buy-in, you may choose to incentivize their participation, whether through a monthly award to workers who best support your safety efforts or a periodic bonus for continued, demonstrable adherence.
OSHA: Top On-Site Safety Concerns
The top construction site safety concerns identified by OSHA and associated institutions will direct your organization toward the most critical risks and allow you to put safety measures in place.
Official OSHA safety guidance materials include:
Compliance Assistance Quick Start, for determining the site-specific safety requirements you must follow
Recommended Practices for Safety & Health Programs in Construction
Additional training and guidance materials, provided on the OSHA website
Top 10 OSHA Violations
The most recent data published by OSHA identifies the following as the most commonly violated standards (noting the relevant industry for which the issued citations most frequently occur, when applicable):
Fall protection (construction)
Hazard communication, or insufficient protections against hazardous chemical exposure (general industry)
Respiratory protection (general industry)
Scaffolding requirements (construction)
Ladder requirements (construction)
Control of hazardous energy, or insufficient protections during instances where start-up, energization, or the release of stored energy may harm personnel (general industry)
Powered industrial trucks (general industry)
Fall protection training requirements
Eye and face protection requirements (for example, PPE)
Machinery and machine guarding requirements
Note that while construction is only explicitly specified as the most relevant industry in three of the top ten, all of these common violations have a high potential likelihood of occurrence on sites that don’t adequately prioritize safety.
OSHA’s “Focus Four” or ”Fatal Four”
Particularly regarding construction sites, OSHA has identified and issued dedicated training materials for the “focus four” risks—sometimes referred to as the “fatal four”—posing the most danger to workers:
Caught-in or caught-between hazards
Safe Sites with MFS Construction and Engineering
MFS prioritizes site safety and worker well-being. We regard our workforce as our most valuable asset. They’re the people who allow us to develop and execute inventive strategies and innovative solutions across all of our construction and engineering projects.
To learn more about our construction and engineering services, contact us today.
OSHA. 1910.147 - The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout). https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.147
OSHA. 1910.1200 - Hazard communication. https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.1200
OSHA. Commonly Used Statistics. https://www.osha.gov/data/commonstats
OSHA. Compliance Assistance Quick Start. https://www.osha.gov/complianceassistance/quickstarts/construction
OSHA. Construction Directives. https://www.osha.gov/construction/directives
OSHA. Construction Enforcement Memos. https://www.osha.gov/construction/memos
OSHA. Construction Focus Four Training. https://www.osha.gov/training/outreach/construction/focus-four
OSHA. Construction Industry Training and Outreach Materials. https://www.osha.gov/construction/training
OSHA. Recommended Practices for Safety & Health Programs in Construction. https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/OSHA3886.pdf