Gauge Safety through the Interview Process

Safety might be the most important word associated with construction.  Safety is also a highly valued human need according to psychologist Abraham Maslow.  However, safety isn’t always practiced by people, including construction workers.   Providing training is important to keep construction workers tuned into safety.  It is also important to make sure you hire construction workers who’ll keep safety at the forefront.  Learn what to ask to gauge safety through the interview process.

Questions to ask:

1. Think of a project you’ve been on that had a good safety program.  Explain what made it good.

A prospective employee, who can answer this question thoroughly, has probably paid close attention to workplace safety.  And, the more experiences an employee has had, more safety programs have been encountered.  Hopefully he or she will explain the valuable training they’ve received.

How would you handle the situation if you had to perform a task, but didn’t have the necessary PPE?

Hopefully the candidate will explain that it is never okay to perform a task without the required PPE.  His or her answer will show how conflict will be handled as well as their prospective on using PPE.

3. Has a disagreement ever come up between you and a supervisor about a safety matter?  How did you handle it?

Although you want your worker to follow directions, finding an employee to call out an unsafe practice is a valuable quality in a worker.  Even better is finding out how if it is communicated in a constructive and respectable manner.

4. Explain a time when you corrected someone for being unsafe.

You’ll want to learn how the candidate approaches conflicts, which are an inevitable part to any job.  Hiring someone with a “Know-it-all” attitude can cause strife.  It’s a fine balance to find someone who’ll look out for others and not be afraid to correct an error respectfully.  You can ask a follow up question to find out if he or she had to take an immediate action to stop to unsafe behavior.  Asking this will shed light on how the potential employee handles a crisis.

5. What would you do if you saw that our workplace lacked necessary safety equipment?

With this question, you’re hoping to learn if the candidate understands the proper chain of command.  You’re also hoping to see if he or she won’t hesitate, raising concerns about safety-related issues.  It’s not uncommon for new hires to spot safety concerns that longtime workers may miss.

6. What would you do if you found out a co-worker had a problem with substances?

With this question, you’re looking to see if the candidate sees substance abuse as a problem.  Will he or she take immediate action?  A safety-conscious candidate will not tolerate the variety of problems that are associated with those who have substance abuse problems.

7. Explain how you use a safety practice at your home.

Construction workers, who really practice safety, carry over their safety values to other contexts. Hopefully they can quickly explain how they’ve used PPE for home projects, checked outlets for being overloaded or made sure equipment/chemicals are out of reach of children.

It only takes one employee to ruin a construction company’s safety reputation.  If during the interview you are left questioning or doubting their answer, dig deeper with more questions or previous employers.  Perhaps more important than training employees, is to make sure you’ve hired the right construction workers to begin with.