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HOW TO BUILD A SAFETY-FIRST CULTURE

Construction is dangerous work, and safety remains a critical ingredient to the long-term success of any construction company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction comprises 5% of the private-sector workforce but is responsible for 16% of all fatal injuries. The number of fatal construction accidents has dropped in recent years, but so have overall employment numbers.

Every investment in safety training, technology and processes not only protects your people, but benefits your business. Safe work practices build morale and help the work get done more efficiently, while strengthening your reputation in the eyes of prospective employees and customers. They also help you control insurance premiums, avoid fines and reduce the likelihood of expensive lawsuits.

So how do you create and maintain a safety-first culture within your company? According to Building a proactive safety culture in the construction industry: 12 steps to a safer jobsite, a white paper on safety from ACE USA, every sound program starts with buy-in from executive leadership, who hold the power to make safety a core company value. Successful safety programs also stress personal well-being over threats of disciplinary action, because this helps workers feel more part of the solution and less part of the problem.

Here are some other key takeaways from the report:
• Include laborers in your safety committees. These meetings are often limited to upper management, risk managers and operational staff. They also need to include the workers who have firsthand insight into what safety measures are working and where vulnerabilities exist.

• Make safety part of project planning. Before work begins, identify all potential hazards and develop a project-specific safety plan for workers and subcontractors. The plan should cover items such as scope of work, safety expectations, key contacts from your company, and information for local emergency responders and medical facilities.

• Insist on safety-focused subcontractors. Any safety program is only as strong as its weakest element. So in addition to choosing subcontractors based on experience and financial strength, your decisions should consider safety histories as well.

• Provide safety training. Since most safety equipment and regulations are outside the realm of common knowledge, some training will be required for both new and existing employees. And depending on the ethnic diversity of your team, you may want to offer training in multiple languages.

• Talk about safety every day. This is all about keeping safety top of mind. When your crew meets on the jobsite to start the workday, have them review all hazards and safety controls. It is also a good time talk through and learn from any recent safety lapses or near-misses.

Cat Safety Services offers a variety of programs focused on helping businesses like yours build a successful safety culture.

Your Cat® dealer can fill you in on the details.