Recognizing and Disciplining Construction Work Behavior

Construction work is serious work. Safety has to be a top priority.  And, providing training to help maintain construction safety is key.  One training program uses the psychological theory that behavior is based on consequences.  Quite simply, safe actions are reinforced through effective feedback so the action is repeated in the future.  Unsafe actions are immediately corrected through feedback.  A

s safe actions are continually recognized overall safety performance can increase.  Conversely, unsafe actions that are corrected, theoretically will be less likely to reoccur.  Learn more about recognizing and disciplining construction work behavior.

A lot of research has taken place to identify how accidents occur, in the past it has been described using a domino metaphor.  Many factors can lead to accidents.  If the factors happen continuously, one pushing into another, an accident results.  And accidents can vary in severity, from damaged materials and equipment, to serious injury or loss of life.  Using the domino metaphor, by putting a break in the chain of events, or factors that lead up to accident, results in accident prevention.

Many feel that avoiding unsafe behaviors and reinforcing safe behaviors are the most direct means to preventing accidents.  The basis of this idea rests in a common psychological theory.  The theory posits that consequences direct behavior.  The consequences are feedback related the behavior.  Good behavior in this industry is safe behavior.  And, good behavior should be recognized on the spot, as well at meetings and other appropriate opportunities.  Bad or unsafe behavior needs to corrected immediately.  And, it should be done in a supportive, non-embarrassing manner.  The critical ingredient to this theory working is that the consequences, or feedback, have to be immediate.

Previous studies have found that safety recognition has become a best practice in the construction industry, especially when reaching for the zero injury objectives.  While informal, immediate feedback is powerful.  Accident reduction becomes even more sustained when a formal safety plan has been put into place.

Factors that aid a formal safety plan include: frequency of safety incentive, safety incentives for the foremen and using safety incentive plans where a zero injury objective was in pursuit. When putting in place a safety recognition program, consider other factors that have led to success.  Other factors that contributed to an effective program happened when the owner provided more funds than the amount set aside to achieve safety.  Also, when the owner participated in the recognition program performance was better.

Past research points out that safety recognition and disciplinary programs are effective. However, research doesn’t clearly lay out how to develop and implement a program geared towards safety recognition and discipline.  Below are a few best practices to consider when designing a safety recognition and disciplinary program.

  • The program should be a reflection of the safety philosophy of the project / company.
  • Some feel monetary rewards make an effective program, while others feel investing money into safety programs and training is more worthwhile.
  • In the later, immediate and sincere feedback reinforcing and recognizing the safe behavior is crucial.  A small reward such as baseball cap, coupon or gift certificate would be acceptable.
  • Consider recognizing safety performances, attendance and/or crew performances.

Make sure safety is the top priority of your construction project.  Using a safety recognition and disciplinary program can act as training to help your construction employees achieve zero injury status.