It’s no secret that construction is one of the most dangerous industries with a relatively high risk for accidents and even fatalities. This is why implementing a safety management system (SMS) in any construction business is very important.
The majority of fatal and non-fatal injuries occurring in the workplace were typically related to slips (leading to falls), accidents when moving/lifting heavy objects, and collisions with objects or vehicles. As we can see, most of these injuries often occur in construction operations.
Accidents are obviously an unavoidable part of any business or even life in general. However, proper implementation of a safety management system can significantly reduce the occurrences of these accidents and the impacts of these injuries, especially by training your employees on how to avoid hazardous situations and how to tackle these situations.
Implementing Construction Safety Management System
When implementing a safety management system for a construction company, it’s important to consider four key areas:
- Defining objectives and setting up policies
- Safety risk management
- Safety assurance
- Safety promotion
Below, we will discuss each of them one by one.
Defining Safety Objectives and Policies
It’s very important to lay down the objectives of the safety management system, as well as the safety policies in written documentation. This will be a document that defines the intention of the construction safety management system and the company’s commitment to implementing the SMS.
There are several things that should be included in this documentation:
- Statement of commitment: a statement of commitment by management that the company will follow the agreed procedures and policies, providing the necessary resources, reporting incidents, supplying information to employees when needed, and other details. Should be signed by a responsible representation of management (i.e. the CEO).
- Emergency response planning: a detailed plan for each potential hazard, including who’s going to be responsible for emergency response, steps that must be taken, etc.
- Safety accountabilities: clearly communicates the responsibilities of managers and employees at all levels. Appointment of safety PICs (Person In Charge) and other key roles should also be documented here.
- Documentation: all safety activities should be properly recorded and should be accessible by all employees.
This step might seem like a lot of paperwork, but it’s crucial in laying the foundation for the more practical aspects of the construction safety management system. Having your SMS in a properly written form is very important in ensuring the commitment of both management and employees alike, but having such documentations might also be legally required for the construction business to operate in certain areas.
Having proper safety incident reporting software like iReportSource can significantly help in this documentation process, while also offering some key features that might be useful in the other aspects of the SMS implementation, as we’ll also discuss below.
Implementing Safety Risk Management
Another crucial step to implementing a safety management system is to perform adequate risk assessments so we can identify potential hazards before they happen.
Knowing the potential hazards is the only way to pre-emptively make things safe for your employees. It’s obviously too late to only implement safety measures after an accident or a near-miss has happened.
In a construction setting, we have to consider various factors like fire hazards (flammable materials), electricity, temperatures, machinery, heights, and more. This might seem like a time-consuming and repetitive process to perform, but iReportSource can help automate your safety audits and risk assessment processes.
You should assess different hazards based on severity levels, and create plans to mitigate risks around these hazards as a part of your safety management system.
The focus here is to take a proactive approach to safety by pre-emptively identifying potential hazards via a comprehensive risk assessment.
The focus of this step is to implement a proper monitoring system to monitor and evaluate the ongoing safety management system. The construction business is a dynamic business and new hazards might be introduced even throughout a single project as the project progresses.
This is why it’s very important to ensure the construction safety management system is constantly being monitored and adapted to new challenges. The system should be continuously updated with regular risk assessments and audits, and you should also gather feedback from personnels to further improve the system. You can effectively gather feedback by using proper safety management software like iReportSource by utilizing digital forms to streamline the process.
Another key aspect of safety assurance is to stay on top of new government regulations and safety recommendations specific to your location and/or industry. The more details you can cover in your response plan, the more effective your safety assurance will be.
This step is about the implementation of a safety culture throughout your construction business, which in practice is about effective communication of all matters related to safety management for both your executive and employees.
Remember that effective communication is two-way communication: employees are expected to provide feedback to management whenever they have an issue regarding the implementation of the SMS, while management should clearly communicate safety policies, including changes like the ones discussed above. When performed correctly, this can be an effective tool to keep everyone informed regarding the safety management system.
Another key aspect of safety promotion is training: safety training must be made mandatory when onboarding new employees and tenured personnel should also undergo regular re-training. Regularly train your staff to stay in compliance with your safety policies.
You can use tools like iReport Source to automatically assign training, reminders, and due dates while also tracking each staff’s usage on each training material.
Having a functional safety management system is a crucial aspect of any construction business, but it’s also important to remember that each company is unique and thus might also require a unique safety management implementation.
Your priority in this regard should be the implementation of a functional safety management system that can keep your employees, customers, vendors, and even the public safe as you perform your business activities, and this is where having proper safety management software can significantly help in planning, deploying, and monitoring your construction safety management system.