Dispelling Unsafe Mindsets in the Construction Industry

Keeping people safe on construction sites is a huge undertaking that requires employers and employees to be well-trained and vigilant. Further, there are certain unsafe mindsets that contribute to an unsafe work environment that must be dispelled.

So what are these mindsets? The following is a list of some of the most dangerous:

1. Safety is a process separate from the worksite. Work, productivity and safety go hand-in-hand. It is one thing to write a safety manual or conduct training courses but these manuals and training must always be tested on the job to make sure they work in particular circumstances.

2. If a company is OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) compliant, there will be no accidents. Even OSHA knows this is not true. That’s why they have a General Duty clause that covers situations that are not covered by their regulations. Employers and workers must always be vigilant about unforeseen dangers and not be lulled into a sense of security just because they are in full OSHA compliance.

3. Incentive programs produce lasting behavior. While rewards for behavior produce the desired results to a point, the effectiveness of these programs will wane over time. Further, some experts believe such programs causes workers to neglect reporting safety issues so they don’t lose a reward. The best approach, therefore, is safety for safety’s sake. When workers understand that their health, and even their lives, depend on safety, they will take it more seriously.

4. Strict disciplinary actions are necessary to keep workers safe. Harsh disciplinary programs work in much the same, although opposite, way that incentive programs work. In an effort to avoid being punished, workers will sweep safety issues or incidents under the rug in order to avoid punishment. Again, when workers understand that the goal of safety programs is not to punish but to keep people safe they will be more likely to comply.

5. Safety programs drive up costs and make jobs harder to get done on time. This is a popular but absolutely false mindset. Safe work environments lead to higher productivity and quality work, as well as less turnover. Safety-conscious construction companies also have lower insurance and liability costs. Further, when there is less employer turnover, companies have a more experienced labor force. In the end all of these things will lead to jobs being completed correctly, on time, and on budget.

There are a great many mindsets that can make the workplace unsafe. Dispelling these mindsets, therefore, is vital to the health of employees and a construction company’s bottom line.

Train. Protect. Prevent