The first week of May marks National Construction Safety Week—a week to recommit your awareness to doing your part for a safe jobsite. Both workers and companies commit to building a strong safety culture and learn why it is crucial that everyone is empowered to own and act on safety.
Strong Voices, Safe Choices
This year’s theme is “Strong Voices, Safe Choices,” and the site encourages all to get on board with making a difference. Safety awareness from only those designated to safety-specific roles within your company is a dangerous practice.
We celebrate those who take the pledge at https://www.constructionsafetyweek.com/ during this special week, which officially started in 2016 when some of our top national general contractors teamed together to make a difference. They recognized that every week in construction should be when everyone in the workplace does their part to prioritize their own safety and the safety of others around them.
Safety Starts with Awareness
Awareness of the Stats
An article published in Construction Dive in November 2022 stated that despite OSHA’s efforts, the construction death rate hasn’t budged in 10 years. Ten out of every 100,000 workers didn’t come home between 2011 and 2020—over 1,000 workers per year. Despite trench collapse being up last year, the fatal four—falls, struck-by, caught in/between, and electrocution—remain the top causes. In 2022, OSHA reported 39 people died while working in trenches or excavations, which was twice as many as in 2021. How can you help the numbers trend down, not up?
Awareness of Your Surroundings
Having walked many jobsites over the years with superintendents and project managers, I have noticed two succinct personalities: The ones fully caught up in the tour and those conducting the tour while also canvassing their surroundings. When they stop to bring a potential hazard to another’s attention to be fixed on the spot or adjust a trip hazard or something else that could be a danger to them and others before moving on with the tour, their character and care for others is demonstrated. Taking time to put their concern into action on the spot prevents accidents from happening and something that might seem like nothing from escalating with time. How many times does a slightly loose or dangling item start slight, and each time it is passed by another who does not fix it, it grows into a bigger danger?
Awareness of Occupants
Everyone (but especially construction managers) aware of the personnel designated to work on their jobsite prevents hazards. Taking time to speak to the foreman for the trade company or introduce yourself to someone who may walk onto the jobsite is critical to protect your designated workers, along with those who are visiting the site. Not to mention preventing thefts by those walking or driving on-site and helping themselves to everything from tiles to tools.
Awareness of Emotions
Those aware of others’ behaviors on their jobsite, spending time together daily, also prevent hazards. If you know a co-worker is usually upbeat and chatty, and they have changed to down and out, it is essential to inquire and bring this to a supervisor’s attention. Not only are they out of sorts for themselves, but their behavior can hurt others. Just a few years ago, a suicide happened on a jobsite. Co-workers knew this individual was depressed over a recent divorce but did not keep an eye on him. Sadly, during lunchtime, he jumped to his death. The emotional unrest for everyone at the jobsite, especially those closest to the man, had been activated, but despite a new awareness of others, it was too late for the man who needed a friend at the time.
Awareness of Your Own Tendencies
Each of us reacts to situational circumstances differently. Some have a keen awareness of their physical surroundings, some of their emotional surroundings, some of both, yet when it comes to safety, how you react or don’t react to the things you notice makes all the difference between someone getting injured or not and even, at times, life and death. If you doubt speaking up, get bold. If you speak up too much and others don’t listen, then speak accordingly or with help from an associate to verify, then act.
How Can You Improve Your Awareness Skills When It Comes to Safety?
- Remember that the statistics are real.
- Take notice of your surroundings.
- See and notice people in your proximity.
- Tune in to emotional changes.
- Get to know your tendencies.
Coaching vs. Policing for Construction Safety
Safety cops and coaches work in our industry. Everyone I meet prefers a coaching approach from their designated safety professionals. Although you might not be paid specifically to be a safety manager on the job, the best teammates are always helping to keep things safe. In sports, every coach usually has an assistant or at least a team parent who offers support, extra eyes and ears, and encouragement to the team. When it comes to safety, we all need to play a role. Your part might seem significant until it’s not.
To Being Aware to Show You Care,