In a high-hazard industry like construction, ensuring the safety of working men and women is paramount – especially if companies want to reduce their risk of litigation and regulatory action, ensure timely completion of projects, and keep skilled employees on the job. Fostering a safety culture, however, requires a company-wide effort. Everyone from the top down must be 100% committed to ensuring workplace safety.
On April 28, 1971 in the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) was created. Since then, OSHA and the construction industry as a whole, have had a dramatic effect on ensuring workplace safety for both working men and women. As a result, fatality and injury rates have dropped significantly! The adoption of standard regulations has prevented countless work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
OSHA’s mission is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.
Constructing a Safety Culture
Individual corporations and smaller companies have balanced maintaining their respective competitiveness in the marketplace and implementing the required safety regulations. Most medium to large businesses have written and adopted their own Safety and Health Plans that narrow the focus of the wide-arching OSHA to their core business services. While preparing and implementing these plans have gone a long way to improve safety within individual companies – construction or otherwise – the number of safety incidents and fatalities are still higher than what is considered acceptable.
These last 20 years, and especially in the past 10 years, the larger companies and dare I say, successful companies have implemented a key element to a safety program. That key element is “culture.” Any successful company, no matter how big or small, has to implement a safety culture that starts from the top: the CEO, management, down to every level of the field. This safety culture also has to be just as horizontal in its approach as it is all inclusive in its mainline and support departments – excluding no one.
An effective safety culture must include the following:
- Entire company is involved in its implementation.
- Upper management is present, outspoken about safety in a positive perspective, and sincere.
- Upper management provides the the resources (i.e., people, money, tools, equipment, PPE, etc.) needed to allow safety to properly function.
- Safety plans, safety internal meetings, safety field meetings are scheduled and made a priority.
- Safety placarding and instruction is varied and frequent.
- Be appreciative when safety milestones are achieved.
A Strong Safety Record
Buesing Corp. refreshed its own safety program more than five years ago. The reason for this was because we evidenced our experience modification rating (EMOD) slide below what was acceptable. We quickly sprang into action, re-writing our safety plan with appreciable detail, revamping our safety portion of new-hire orientation, increasing our safety training programs, making our safety manager a priority position, and implementing mandatory monthly management team meetings to discuss actionable safety culture items.
Now, in our 50th year of business, we boast a EMOD rating of 0.61 and three years (1095 calendar days) without lost time recording. We are extremely proud of both of these milestones! As a construction company, we are also humble enough to know our job is not done, and that we owe it to our employees to keep improving and refining a culture of safety that is effective. This helps us be a great company that quality, safety oriented men and women want to work for.