This week, we are joining in the industry wide effort to raise awareness and share best practices for increasing safe work practices through Construction Safety Week. From September 14 – 18, construction companies across the nation will engage in conversations about best practices, creating cultures that embrace safety, and striving for zero workplace injuries across all disciplines.
The topic of safety in construction is a big one, and for good reason. There continue to be too many onsite accidents that lead to musculoskeletal disorders, chronic health issues, severe injuries and even death. Worker fatalities still happen at a rate of more than 14 deaths per day across the country, with many more non-fatal injuries each year.
We are long past time that safety be a priority for every individual on all construction sites.
The good news is that many resources exist to help individuals and companies improve their safety programs. Today, we will explore some of the many options available for both individuals and companies to utilize to increase awareness and training as it relates to safety in construction.
Perhaps the most well-known governmental entity that works to provide training is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Commonly referred to as OSHA, their construction industry web pages include assistance and guidance to help identify, reduce and eliminate construction-related hazards.
In addition to the national OSHA assistance, there are typically state agencies such as Oregon OSHA and Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Both of these agencies offer consultations for businesses in their respective states.
Several colleges and universities offer degree programs in health and safety. If you’re interested in pursuing a degree to become a safety professional, OSHA has a list of the colleges and universities, searchable by degree type from certificates to doctorates. You can find this searchable database here. Some of the programs are offered by institutions such as:
• Northern Illinois University
• University of Cincinnati
• Rochester Institute of Technology OSHA Education Center
• Pacific Northwest OSHA Education Center University of Washington
• University of South Florida
Third Party Consultation
Many third party consultants exist to help companies improve their internal safety programs. These companies can offer one-on-one help and insight, as well as onsite training and inspections. Here are just a few in the Pacific Northwest:
Many vendors that rent or sell safety equipment offer training services either online or onsite. Here are a few of them:
Other Educational Sources
Of course, some less formal training resources exist on the internet. Safety Talk Ideas help provide discussion points for safety professionals to use when speaking to crew workers. There are also great examples of employee safety training available online, such as Oregon State University, Portland State University and Washington State University.
There are also safety conferences for added education. One example is the Washington State, Governor’s Industrial Health and Safety Conference. This conference is all virtual this year and runs September 21 – 25, 2020.
In addition to these, some topics that are less directly related to construction activities and more related to mental health. 2020 has brought us plenty of challenges, but there has been a mental health crisis for many years in our country, and efforts need to be made to combat these concerns, as well. Perlo has put a new focus on helping employees through this time, and the industry as a whole is taking note of the challenges that people are facing with regards to this issue, as well.
It’s important that employers provide training and support for those who may be struggling with mental health challenges. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a myriad of resources to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. You can also call 1-800-723-8255.
Many health insurance providers will also have resources available for employers and employees, and we encourage you to ask about those services.
Perlo’s Safety Program
Perlo is dedicated to our safety program and is continuously evolving its practices so we can improve. We employ a full-time safety manager, assistant safety manager, and four field safety coordinators. All projects are visited on a regular basis by our safety team members. A unique site-specific safety plan and job hazard analyses is created by the project management team and safety manager prior to construction activities. We also align all of our efforts to our Perlo Practices.
Continuing education for superintendents and site management staff is considered and delivered prior to each project. The safety manager utilizes weekly Toolbox Talks to emphasize safe work practices and ensures all superintendents are certified in OSHA-10 and/or 30, CPR, first aid and AED.
Superintendents are trained to the competent person level in fall protection, trenching and excavation, scaffolding, and in the management of crystalline silica. Each workday begins with a daily huddle to emphasize safe work practices, issue work assignments, and coordinate work activities.
The ultimate responsibility for each job site lies with each superintendent, who are on-site during all working hours, and set up employees for success every day by providing the right tools, training and safeguarding the public from any construction activities we’re performing.
Safety on construction sites is our number one priority, and as we join the industry in celebrating Safety in Construction Week, we hope that the resources listed above will help others with improving their safety programs, too.
Be well. Be safe. Stay healthy. Join us this week, increasing the awareness of safety in construction, for yourself, and your fellow workers.