Construction safety week runs from May 3 through May 7, but safety is a 24/7 topic for construction companies across the nation. The ultimate goal is to protect the welfare of workers, but promoting safety improves nearly every aspect of a construction business, from worker satisfaction and project management to profitability.
COVID-19 has added new safety concerns that need to be addressed as well. The following practices can help you emphasis overall worksite safety, including enhanced measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Clearly communicate safety standards
All expected safety standards should be clearly and repeatedly communicated with your workforce. This can include daily meetings, safety inspections and workplace signage that covers safety topics along with any required signage. Be sure to touch on COVID-19 safety measures. It’s important that the communication goes two ways, so make sure you provide an open and easy environment for workers to address safety concerns. Safety comment cards or a safety concern email box are a couple ways you can encourage communication.
Focus on training and continued education
Training and continued education leads to a safer work environment and improved worker satisfaction. It’s important to remember that these types of efforts need to be reinforced through repetition. Your training should include topics like hazard identification, the use of personal protection equipment (PPE), ongoing equipment and skill training. Encourage your workers to prioritize ongoing education in their field and reward safe practices whenever possible.
OSHA has some helpful guidance for maintaining safety on the construction site.
Invest and require PPE
No conversation about workplace safety would be complete without talking about the role of personal protective equipment. PPE has always been important for construction companies, but it pays to take a fresh look at how your organization encourages the proper use of PPE.
It is also important to remember that quality matters when it comes to PPE. Any company provided PPE should be high quality and frequently examined to ensure it working properly. This may include, but is not limited to:
- Protective gloves
- Hearing protection
- Full face shields when cutting, grinding, or chipping
- Chemical splash goggles
- Respiratory protection
- Fall protection equipment when working above 6 feet
- Work-specific PPE, like welding leathers when welding or FR clothing when working with live electric
You can encourage the use of high-quality PPE among your workers too by offering discounts, gift cards or other incentives. For more information on PPE, you can download OSAH’s guide to PPE.
COVID-19 Safety tips for construction
COVID-19 has created new safety concerns for every industry, and construction is no exception. OSHA has a list of recommendations for preventing COVID-19 exposure on the jobsite, which includes:
- Screen all visitors on construction sites for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
- Use staggered work schedules when possible to reduce the total number of employees on the jobsite to make social distancing more possible.
- Locate problematic areas where workers are more likely to be in close proximity, like hallways, hoists and elevators, ingress and egress points, break areas and more. Implement policies to encourage social distancing in these areas.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning products to clean all touch points (i.e. doorknobs, light switches, break areas, entryways, restrooms etc…). This includes chemicals from List N or those specifically labeled to be effective against COVID-19.
- If equipment must be shared, it’s important to regularly and thoroughly sanitize it. Be sure to consult and follow manufacturer guidelines.
Read the complete list of OSHA COVID-10 recommendations for construction here.
Learn more about Construction Safety Week.
The material presented here is educational in nature and is not intended to be, nor should be relied upon, as legal or financial advice. Please consult with an attorney or financial professional for advice.