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Health & Safety


Health & Safety

Construction Worksite Safety Management

by Ron Pettit, Loss Control Specialist, The Harry A. Koch Co.

Construction contractors with high injury and fatality rates tend to lack a solid plan beginning with a pre-project planning to review past worksites where serious incidents and accidents have occurred. Without an overall pre-job plan, the potential for unplanned delays, additional costs and possible injuries is increased.

This is the responsibility of the “field manager,” who may be a superintendent, supervisor project manager or lead foreman. Now is also the time to review exactly what each crew, contractor and subcontractor has planned for the control of known hazards. All plans should be compared to see if there will be any conflict during unusual or potentially troublesome work. Follow-up inspections should focus on whether or not site specific safety plans and hazard analyses are adequate and being followed.

Monitoring the performance of subcontractors is one of the most important duties of a construction “field manager.” It involves assuring that the subcontractor is in compliance with all safety standards and is following the safety plan their firm submitted. Using both formal and informal safety inspections on the construction project are valuable. All levels of personnel should be responsible to be alert for potential “high risk activities and hazards” in a constantly changing construction environment.

While nearly every project is different and work environments change every day, field managers are challenged with production schedules and at the same time keep workers safe. Most construction hazards are the same for every project, but new situations are dictated by the site location, the terrain, weather, expectations and the experience of the workforce. We never want someone to assume things are “OK.” We need to know they are “OK.” When assumptions are made problems can happen. Field managers need to know that if something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. They need to stop the activity and make it right. Ask the field manager, what’s better, “To stop the job for 15 minutes to get the right answer to fix a problem or let it go and shut down the job for the day due to a serious accident?”

Companies that follow good safety practices have fewer accidents and injuries, lower insurance premiums, fewer citations and have a good reputation for quality work and safety management in the construction trade.