Being a compliant construction company, you will have all your Safe Work Method Statement documentation like Excavation SWMS, Bricklaying SWMS etc. However, having the documentation doesn’t mean your team will buy into the methodologies. Growing a safety culture will save you money, reduce project delays, avoid insurance increases and generally build a more profitable company. Here are tips for cultivating and nurturing a culture of safety.
A focus on safety should be higher on the priority list than expenses, turnaround times and deadlines. Employees are the highest value business asset, and showing this to them via your desire to keep them safe will instantly drive a deeper employee engagement which is the key to every business’ success.
Correct, intensive training is the surest way to safety culture and reiterates your interest in employees’ safety and wellbeing. Training should be ongoing as new information could be introduced and human beings forget things or develop “bad habits” unwittingly.
Get staff to elect a multi-hierarchy committee to handle all safety matters. That committee should drive reviews, updates and site safety plans (per site).
Include corrective plans, not only preventative plans, and engage with employees for input into these plans (via the committee). The committee, and management, must ensure all employees have knowledge of and access to these plans.
Every new site must have a new response team established for accidents. These team members must have up to date first aid training.
Encourage feedback on concerns regarding safety and take action. If employees believe you take safety seriously and are not just window dressing, then they will take it seriously.
Accountability and the Safe Work Method Statement
Ensure all employees know that they are accountable for safety, NOT only team leaders, supervisors or managers. Your workers should understand that you view unsafe work processes as a threat to the life and safety of everyone on site.
They must have the safety plans, Safe Work Method Statement and accident plans explained as well as the ramifications for them failing to follow those practices.
Encourage open feedback from the workers regarding safety issues, accidents that were avoided, or anomalies found on site. All workers should have a proxy for halting work due to safety risks and should not be punished for doing so even if they were being overly cautious.
Rewards and discipline
Incentivise good safety behaviour such as adherence to SWMS (and others), safety meeting attendance, consistent use of PPE, reporting of any avoided accidents, method improvement submissions, etc.
Avoid incentivising accident-free weeks as you find that incident reporting rates will immediately drop.
Inspections and meetings
A safety inspection should occur at the beginning and end of each day to pick up oversights such as misplaced tools or damage to materials or equipment. Ad hoc daily inspections should also be implemented to pick up safety risks and safe working methods of the teams.
Start the working day with a quick safety focus meeting and list the day’s tasks and their related SWMS. Discuss any risk feedback received from workers and give praise where it is due.
A safety culture filters from the top down, so show your commitment and engagement and the workers will follow that lead.