A construction project is only as successful as its workers are safe.
That’s the mentality of Hickory Construction, an East Tennessee-based firm with more than thirty years of experience in commercial and residential building. As the construction industry celebrates National Safety Month this June, Hickory and other builders are taking time to reflect on company policies aimed at protecting their workers.
“We pride ourselves in producing high-quality results, and on of the cornerstones of quality work is providing safe environments for our builders,” said Hickory Chairman Burke Pinnell.
One in five work-related deaths in the United States in 2014 occurred in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. As the industry enjoys a period of steady growth, the stakes have never been higher for firms experiencing an influx of new workers. Thus, in honor of National Safety Month, Hickory has compiled five safety tips that result in protection and productivity for its team – guidelines that apply to contractors and do-it-yourselfers alike.
Safety standards are vital, but they are meaningless if company and project leaders aren’t committed to upholding them. Careful adherence to safety policy starts at the top.
“As an employer, one of our most important roles is setting policies and procedures to help ensure that employees understand the importance of safety on the job site,” Pinnell said.
Do-it-yourselfers can make sure their quest for efficiency does not trump their focus on following safety procedures, whether they are working on their own or with a group of friends.
It takes time and energy to train employees on safety protocol, but Hickory says it’s time well spent, particularly since 60 percent of construction workplace injuries occur in the builder’s first year of employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Employers can work toward the goal of achieving high safety standards by requiring that all employees undergo drug-free workplace protocol, engage in weekly “tool box talks” on safety-related activities, take CPR training and receive thorough equipment training.
In addition, it is important to track safety results in order to reward success and refine future practices, the company says.
It may sound basic, but Pinnell says construction workers cannot afford to underestimate the importance of following basic best practices when performing key building tasks.
“Simple steps like properly lifting heavy items and using ergonomically correct tools can make a big difference in keeping workers safe,” Pinnell said.
OSHA reports that one in 10 construction workers is injured on the job in each year, and many incidents result from a failure to adhere to well-known safety benchmarks.
Keeping a work site clean and organized can safeguard workers, too. Sweeping away spills, dust and dirt, keeping walkways clear and moving equipment out of the way minimizes the risk of careless accidents.
Falls are the greatest source of fatal project injuries and lead to a large number of nonfatal incidents as well, according to The Center for Construction Research and Training. Making sure scaffolding is sturdy and obstacles are cleared maximizes builders’ likelihood of staying on their feet and returning home safely.
Helmets, gloves, eyewear and foot protection are vital shields in the fight against injury. Even when workers use their own personal protective equipment, employers are responsible for its adequacy, maintenance and sanitation.
Even the smallest precaution can help builders avoid significant negative consequences in the event of an accident, according to the company.
Following these and other safety protocols will help construction firms and do-it-yourself builders enjoy greater productivity and fewer injuries, according to Pinnell.
“Hickory is happy to commemorate National Safety Month, but we’re committed to upholding high safety standards every day of the year,” Pinnell said.