The number one priority for any company should be the health and safety of its staff; profits and share price are worth little compared to the value of human life. Workers’ health & safety is especially crucial in the construction industry, which is officially the most dangerous in the world. However, all too often a complacent attitude can develop in companies which, at least on paper, have a good track record when it comes to health & safety. Health and safety protocols may appear to be adequate until an accident occurs, at which point their weaknesses become all too apparent. Recruiting a specialist advisor to implement a construction safety programme is one way that businesses can improve the health & safety culture at their worksites and limit the potential for accidents and work-related illnesses to occur.
What is a construction safety programme?
A construction safety advisor has three key priorities when developing a health & safety programme:
Identify potential risks and mitigate them
Although construction workers generally have a sound understanding of how not to hurt themselves on-site, sometimes an over eagerness to finish a job quickly can lead to some substandard practices creeping in. Left unchecked, such practices can become systemic and may, for example, increase the occurrence of slips, trips, and falls, which in some cases can prove fatal. Coming from outside the company, a safety advisor can quickly pinpoint where corners are being cut and collaborate with project managers and individual workers to make sure that best practices are followed.
Ensure compliance with regulations
Even if your company has very strict safety standards, there is always a chance that the odd health & safety regulations could slip through the net. This is a particular worry for companies operating in multiple countries, as company-wide health & safety policies may achieve full compliance at one site but not at another. A construction safety advisor with intimate knowledge of the country’s rules and regulations can ensure that your company’s project doesn’t fall foul of any obscure part of the legal code. This can take a weight off your management team’s shoulders by allowing them to focus more on the construction side of things.
Raise safety standards and awareness across the board
In every field of practical knowledge, innovation occurs to improve upon the old way of doing things. This is no different with health and safety in the construction industry. In construction sites all over the world, new lessons are being learned and safety protocols are being adapted daily. Often, regulators are slow to catch on to these newly devised best practices for risk management, and so being fully compliant with regulations doesn’t necessarily mean that your workers are as safe as they could be. It is the job of the construction safety advisor to be aware of all the recommended health and safety practices in areas such as leadership and management strategy; hazard identification and control; and training and education, regardless of whether these practices are enforced by law or not. Having access to such expertise can ensure your company stays ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping its workers safe and anticipating potential regulatory changes.
Buying into a better safety culture
Of course, when a perceived “outsider” comes in with recommendations for how operations should be run, their proposals are not always met with enthusiasm. However, a construction safety advisor isn’t there to tell workers and management that the way they have always done things is “wrong”, or to implement a complete overhaul of company procedures. Instead, recommended changes are usually quite subtle and are targeted at areas of company practice where they are either necessary or relatively manageable. When project owners see for themselves how construction safety advisors improve safety and efficiency, they quickly come to trust their knowledge and feel confident that EHS rules are followed in accordance with your company’s EHS policies and management system. In this way, through a spirit of collaboration, the construction safety advisor is able to instill a “safety first” culture at the construction site.
Unique solutions for unique challenges
ESC’s construction safety advisors are aware that no two work sites are alike, and so solutions offered at one site will not work at another. Every construction safety programme needs to be purpose-built for each one of our clients, which means taking into account the specific challenges at every site we are called to. It is only by recognising the uniqueness of every job that we are able to truly add value to our clients and their projects.