Construction Safety Management: Getting Started & Focusing on the Key Parts
The OSHA document on construction safety management has a LOT of material in it, but it has two handy sections on (1) getting started and (2) key elements.
Let's take a look at each of those to help you improve the safety and health at your construction work site(s).
9 Tips for Getting Started with Construction Safety Management
OSHA recommends these nine steps to getting started with your construction safety management program:
- Always set safety and health as the top priority: Safety and health is just as important as getting the job done.
- Lead by example: model safety by walking the walk and, in particular, talking with employees about safety daily.
- Implement a reporting system: create a system employees can use to report near-misses, incidents, and safety observations; make sure there's never any retaliation for making a report; and work hard to gain the workers' trust so they'll use the reporting system.
- Provide training on the real safety and health hazards workers face at your construction worksite, making sure to teach workers how to work safely once those hazards are controlled. Keep in mind the place of safety training within the hierarchy of controls. Check out our extended article on construction safety training tips and be sure to download our construction safety training guide.
- Conduct inspections to spot hazards: be sure to talk with workers while you're doing this, as often they'll know more about the hazards than you do.
- Collect hazard control ideas: get hazard control ideas from as many sources as possible--remember diversity often breeds innovation.
- Implement hazard control ideas: once you've collected those hazard ideas, assess them, pick the ones that seem most suitable, and implement them. Be sure to create a mechanism for evaluating their effectiveness as well (think of something like the PDCA Cycle here).
- Address emergencies: life won't be ordinary and run-of-the-mill every day. Emergencies WILL happen (just think of the COVID pandemic that began in 2020, for example), and then add your arguably-more-expected hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and fires and similar emergencies. Plan ahead for the these emergencies and be ready for them.
- Make improvements: note that earlier we talked about evaluating your safety management program and the PDCA cycle (which is taken from "continuous improvement" methods).
- Never stand pat in your safety management program: keep evaluating and improving over time.
Download an infographic with these same "getting started with construction safety management" tips.
10 Key Elements of Construction Safety Management to Focus On
Once you've got that safety management program started at your site(s), here's what OSHA recommends you focus on:
- Management leadership: Have all levels of management, from top-management to lower-level managers and supervisors, communicate and demonstrate their commitment to safety and health at your site.
- Worker participation: Get workers involved in all phases of your safety management program. This includes contractors and temporary workers. Keep lines of communication active, two-way, and based on trust and respect.
- Hazard ID and assessment: Create procedures for identifying hazards--don't leave this to chance. Do this on a regular basis and with involvement of workers. Be sure to consider "routine" conditions and emergencies as well. Once hazards are identified, prioritize them for control.
- Hazard prevention and control: Come up with a variety of ideas for controlling hazards; select the "best" ideas; and implement them. Keep in mind the hierarchy of controls.
- Education and training: Provide safety and health training to all workers and managers. This should include everyone's role within the safety management program; hazard identification; and how to work safely in the presence of (controlled) hazards.
- Safety management program evaluation and improvement: Create regular, routine mechanisms for evaluating controls and your safety management program and improving it when necessary (including but not limited to when things are new and when things change).
- Communication and coordination for employers on multiemployer worksites: Be sure that employees at multiemployer worksites cooperate, coordinate, and communicate about safety and health issues effectively. See OSHA for more on multiemployer worksites.
Download an infographic with these same "key elements of a construction safety management" tips.
Two Final Tips for Improved Safety and Health at Your Construction Site(s)
Before we go, we'd like to offer two last tips for you.
First, while every construction site is unique, and so are its hazards, OSHA has identified its "fatal four" safety hazards and the AIHA has identified its "focus four" health hazards for the construction industry. Be well aware of these hazards and how to control them.
The so-called "fatal four" safety hazards are:
- Caught-in and/or caught-between
And the so-called "focus four" health hazards are:
- Manual material handling
- Air contaminants
- High temperatures
And second, remember to use evidence-based training practices instead of learning myths.
Before you go, download our Guide to OSHA Construction Compliance, below!