Safety Concerns in The Construction Industry
November 21, 2017 – Globe St. - Carrie Rossenfeld
Safety is a culture, and educational programs need to be put in place to instill this culture and ensure that individuals are aware of their surroundings, R.D. Olson’s Bill Wilhelm tells GlobeSt.com.
NEWPORT BEACH, CA—Safety is a culture, and educational programs need to be put in place to instill this culture and ensure that individuals in the construction industry are aware of their surroundings, R.D. Olson Construction’s president Bill Wilhelm tells GlobeSt.com. Implementing proper protocols from the start not only keeps workers safe, but also increases speed and productivity, he adds. We spoke with Wilhelm about how companies can improve their safety records and create a better working environment for employees and subcontractors.
GlobeSt.com: What are the top safety issues in the construction industry right now?
Wilhelm: The hottest issue in safety continues to be fall protection. Whether it is prioritizing the installation of safe scaffolding on the side of buildings or managing holes that go through the floor, potential causes for falls should always be closely monitored on construction sites.
Ear and eye protection are also some of the most critical safety concerns. Eyes are most vulnerable because they are the most exposed, and sparks from welding jobs, saws and other tools are common with any construction project. All individuals on a construction site need to wear proper hearing and eye protection to prevent injury.
GlobeSt.com: How can companies prevent safety issues from occurring?
Wilhelm: Safety is a culture, and educational programs need to be put in place to instill this culture and ensure individuals are aware of their surroundings. At R.D. Olson Construction, our employees are OSHA 30 certified, ensuring they have the training they need to promote our culture of safety. We have safety events and safety tailgates as often as once per week on job sites. Our safety directors also do full safety inspections on site at least once every other week. Safety is an ongoing part of our training and education, and is fostered across all levels—from management and employees to subcontractors and other project partners.
Regardless of the issue, safety as a whole is all about communication. On every site, you need to first identify the tasks that are taking place and what safety measures need to be implemented during every step of the construction process. Zoning, which involves cordoning off spaces when certain tasks are taking place to ensure those nearby aren’t at risk of being injured, is often part of our safety protocol.
GlobeSt.com: From a cost and productivity perspective, what are the benefits to implementing proper safety protocols and education programs from the start?
Wilhelm: Ensuring the safety of workers should always be the top priority, no matter the cost. However, the cost of implementing these protocols and education programs is often negligible and nearly always saves money in the long run. Safety issues, no matter how minor, can delay a project significantly, affect worker morale and lead to costly investigations. Implementing proper protocols and training from the start is the right thing to do, but it also has the added benefit of increasing speed and productivity.
GlobeSt.com: What else should readers know about this topic?
Wilhelm: An often overlooked, but extremely important, safety concern is exhaustion and general wear and tear on workers’ bodies. Tired workers present a very serious safety issue on job sites, and with an industry-wide talent shortage, it’s even more of a concern. Exhaustion can cause experienced workers to make simple, split-second mistakes that could be deadly. Companies can take preventative measures by ensuring that employees and subcontractors aren’t working too many hours and that the building schedule is realistic from the start.