Keeping your job site safe is one of your highest priorities, allowing you to preserve the health and happiness of your team while simultaneously financially protecting your business. A business with zero fatalities will have lower employee turnover, a better reputation, the capacity to attract more (and better) clients, and fewer costs and legal complexities to deal with.
So is there a way to keep job-site fatalities to zero?
Hire a Consultant
First, consider hiring a consultant. Professional job-site safety consultants and other safety experts can efficiently evaluate your job site, help you identify the biggest risks to your organization, and ultimately propose a series of strategies that can help you eliminate hazards and keep your workers safe. Consultants do cost some money upfront, but they can also make sure your job site runs as safely and smoothly as possible.
Understand the Root Causes of Job-Site Fatalities
The better you understand the root causes of job-site fatalities, the better you can address them. These are some of the most common causes of job-site fatalities:
- Falls, slips, and trips. Falls are by far the most common cause of death on construction job sites. If you fall from any height, a chance of death or serious injuries exists. That’s why it’s important to avoid working at any elevation whenever possible, wear protective equipment that can prevent you from falling, and practice safe habits so that falls are less likely.
- Falling objects. Falling objects are another common cause of job-site fatalities. A combination of different strategies can help here. These include keeping items secure at significant heights, advertising the possibility of falling objects to raise awareness, and mandating the use of hard hats.
- Misuse of equipment. Some fatalities are the result of misused equipment. If you don’t wear your protective equipment properly, or if you use a powerful machine without caution, it could result in losing your life.
- Electrocution. Electrical hazards can be very dangerous if safety protocols aren’t followed. A single electrical incident could result in death.
- Fire and explosions. Sources of fire and potential explosions are also very dangerous.
- Contact with specific hazards. Other specific hazards, like environmental or chemical hazards, may pose a risk to your life as well.
Your biggest priority in reducing job-site fatalities to zero is eliminating, or at least reducing the hazards to which your employees are exposed. For example, can you eliminate the need to work from a significant height so falls aren’t as potentially life-threatening? Can you work with safer materials that aren’t as hazardous to human health?
Provide the Right Equipment
Whenever you can’t eliminate or mitigate a hazard, you’ll need to provide proper equipment for navigating the job site (and the task at hand) safely. That includes providing machinery and other tools that have been properly inspected and are approved for safe work.
You’ll also need to think about personal protective equipment (PPE). It can protect employees on the job site from a wide range of potential hazards. Personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), for example, can prevent an employee from falling under certain circumstances. Hard hats, safety goggles, gloves, boots, and other types of protective equipment may also be required, depending on the hazards at your job site.
Educate and Train Your Employees
Next, educate and train your employees. All your protective equipment will be useless if your employees don’t know how to use that equipment properly. Before allowing your employees to set foot on the job site, make sure they understand the hazards present and how to mitigate or protect themselves from each of those hazards.
Cultivate a Culture of Safety
Spend time cultivating a culture of safety in your organization and within your team. If everyone, including the leaders, takes safety very seriously, every member of the team is going to be more likely to use the right protective equipment and avoid high risks.
Discourage Drug and Alcohol Use
Finally, discourage drug and alcohol use (especially on the job site itself). Intoxication impairs judgment and reaction time, leading to a less safe job site for everyone.
Not All Fatalities Are Preventable
In 2020, there were 976 fatalities in the construction and extraction industries. The majority of these fatalities were preventable if specific hazards had been eliminated. Or if employees were properly using the right equipment. But not every fatality is preventable. No matter how safety-conscious or careful you are, the inherent risks of your job site mean that fatalities are still a possibility. Your job is to reduce that possibility to the smallest possible number so that you and your employees can continue working in good health.
With these strategies, you should prevent most fatalities from ever occurring on your job site. And with safer employees, you’ll have a smoother-running business, a better reputation, and eventually, a more profitable organization.
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