Construction moving towards integrated safety
Across the world, the construction industry has a poor record for keeping its workers safe. Too many serious injuries and deaths have driven governments and employers to rethink workplace safety on construction sites. There are legal requirements and it is an employer’s responsibility to maintain a safe, healthy working environment. To improve worker safety, the construction industry is moving towards integrated safety management systems.
In the United States alone, nearly 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day.
Construction managers once kept records using pen and paper before integrated safety management system software became available. Not at all efficient. Although there were standalone, paper-based safety management systems these were to meet government regulations. These made it easy for government officers to check companies were operating within the law. A company operating within the law is safe was the school of thought.
Then construction managers moved to using calculators and safety systems fundamentally changed. Instead of government legislation driving workplace safety, companies now completed their own safety assessments. This reaffirmed an organisation’s commitment to worker health and safety.
Once the computer age took hold on the industry, the construction industry understood why a safety system was vital:
Duty of care. Every employee has the right to come home from work every day. No organisation should put anyone at risk through their business operations. Employers are responsible for the safety of all its employees, subcontractors and onsite guests.
Legal obligations. In most countries, all companies must offer a safe working environment. There are huge penalties for not meeting legislated requirements.
Saves money. Prevention is better than a cure. It costs less. Investigating workplace accidents is costly. So are the fines if found to be in noncompliance.
What makes a good safety management system?
Good construction safety management systems should be more than a system that tells you what to do and what not to do. They need the flexibility to respond to user needs.
Integrated safety management systems identify risks for every project. This allows risk management planning once the system has all the information it needs. Enter construction company records, processes and procedures along with key accountabilities so the system can track and maintain safety risks. Most important, company culture must change to accept the safety management system as an integral part of every work day.
A good integrated safety management system will include the following functionalities:
Safety hazard identification capabilities. Safety hazard identification includes identifying risks. These are scored and ranked in relation to their potential threat to organisational safety. The system tracks safety hazards and risks. It also monitors the progress outstanding on pending and overdue actions.
Risk management. Put procedures in place to keep potential safety hazards and risks to a reasonable level, or at zero, as required.
Monitoring. Track worker health and safety to pick up early on potential hazards and risks so you can take action. Continual improvement. Safety management systems need continual improvement to improve their effectiveness.
As the construction industry improves its workplace safety, sophisticated software keeps it on track. Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. Are you using good integrated safety management systems to protect your organisation and your people from harm at work every day?