Construction is by far the most dangerous industry to work in when it comes to the likelihood of physical injury or death on the job. Three of the ten most dangerous occupations are construction jobs, with roofing topping the list at 34.7 fatal work injuries per 100,000 workers each year. Despite the advancement in technology, workers encounter increasingly dangerous work situations and incidents every year.
Many different organizations develop a construction site safety checklist to ensure the appropriate procedures and resources are in place for companies to institute a strong safety program. Whether the team completes the checklists on paper or through an app, it is essential that completing a construction site safety checklist is a priority. We’ll talk about the importance of a construction site safety checklist, critical elements in the checklist, and implementation tips best to implement to make workers safer in your own construction business.
The Importance of a Construction Site Safety Checklist
First and foremost, anybody that arrives to work every day to earn a living deserves to go home to their family. This belief is the foundation for any attempt to improve worker safety. On-the-job accidents are difficult for everybody. The injured worker may have a reduced quality of life, their work, and home lives may be affected, and their loved ones may be left without a father, brother, uncle, or son. On the business side, accidents can result in lost time on projects, distractions for other workers, extra expenses on human and legal resources, payouts for worker’s compensation or disability insurance and other financial penalties. When workers are kept safe, everybody wins.
Every construction site should have a checklist of different safety measures and procedures to follow. When followed diligently, hazards, injuries, illnesses, and fatalities can be minimized or prevented entirely.
Different Construction Site Safety Checklists
Different scenarios require different checklists. Some checklists require completion daily, weekly, monthly, or an as-needed basis. This not meant to be an inclusive list of all checklists that one must utilize, just a highlight of commonly used checklists.
OSHA Safety Checklists
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) office offers a comprehensive construction site safety checklist covering the following:
- Eye and face protection
- Foot protection
- Hand protection
- Head protection
- Electrical safety
- Floor and wall openings
- Elevated surfaces
- Hazard communication
- Crane safety
Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)
A Job Hazard Analysis form identifies potential hazards due to specific tasks. Once the hazards are identified, appropriate actions and controls must be documented and implemented to mitigate risk. Hazard control measures can include various engineering controls, administrative controls, or personal protective equipment. When hazards are not identified until after an incident occurs, this makes JHA documentation more critical to prevent future incidents from happening again.
Toolbox Talks Meeting Minutes
Toolbox talks are usually at the start of a work shift to discuss important safety topics. Meeting minutes usually include a listing of topics, safety references and processes, concerns raised, and signatures of employees in attendance.
Incident Investigation Form and Checklist
When a safety incident does occur, completing an incident investigation form is critical. Even in the event of a “near-miss,” an incident investigation form must be completed. The form includes:
- Description of the incident and injury (including injured party and any witnesses
- The root cause(s): what caused or allowed the incident to happen
- Recommended corrective actions to prevent future incidents
- Corrective actions taken / root causes addressed
- Information checklist to ensure all pertinent information is captured
Tips for Implementing Construction Site Safety Checklists
Create a safety culture
Creating a safe work environment means goes beyond creating checklists. Construction managers should work to create an environment where workers understand that tasks should be done safely or not at all. A focus on a safety culture includes providing the tools necessary to protect workers from hazards, providing the required training for workers to use those tools correctly, and creating a work culture that encourages workers to apply that training throughout their work lives.
Finally, a strong safety culture means that workers take responsibility for the safety of other workers. Would your employees discourage each other from engaging in unsafe practices in the workplace? Would your employees approach their supervisor if they felt they lacked adequate safety equipment to complete a task? Would they refuse unsafe work?
The simplest things that form the basis of your health and safety training as a worker are the things most likely to protect you from injury. Employees may be busy, but safety must not be taken for granted. Things like wearing a hard hat, using protective glasses and wearing steel-toed boots are commonplace on construction sites because they work when it comes to reducing the frequency of accidents. Employees must face the consequences when not adhering to policy. Similarly, many companies institute rewards when safety measures and checklists are completed consistently.
Making constant improvements
There is no perfect form or an all-inclusive program. Every few months, your safety checklists and programs must be re-evaluated for continuous improvement.
Encourage feedback and ask for help
This is both the most straightforward piece of advice and the hardest to follow. Create an environment where employees can ask for help and provide feedback. If you’re not sure whether something is safe to do, ask your supervisor or foreman for advice or assistance. Most construction firms have made worker safety a significant focus, and your supervisor will be able to address any concerns you have about your safety in the workplace.
Worker safety is an ongoing struggle in the construction industry, and the issues surrounding it goes beyond just the availability of safety equipment and training. Establishing a strong “safety culture” in the workplace and ensuring that workers are comfortable asking for help and refusing unsafe work are two critical objectives that will help to reduce the incidence of accidents and injuries in your workplace.