Course 618 - Managing Safety and Health in Construction

CSMS Basics

Every company has a safety culture.

Safety Culture

Before we get started, it is critical to understand that the only way your Construction Safety Management System (CSMS) will succeed is to make sure the underlying safety culture includes a real long-term serious commitment and tough-caring leadership by management.

This first module will briefly explore some of the important components necessary in an effective safety culture. By the way, if you are interested in developing your CSMS, be sure to take course 833 Developing a Construction Safety Management System.

Believe it or not, OSHA actually has a pretty good definition for a safety culture. OSHA defines culture as:

  • "a combination of an organization's, attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, values, ways of doing things, and other shared characteristics of a particular group of people".

It's important to understand, from the employer's point of view, the company's corporate culture is something to be managed. However, ask an employee what culture means to them and they will likely tell you it's just the way things are around here.

Read the material in each section to find the correct answers to each of the questions. After answering all questions, click the "Check Quiz Answers" button to see your score and a list of missed questions. To correct a question, return to the question, review the material, change your answer, and return to the last section page. Click the "Check Quiz Answers" again to recheck the results.

Do not refresh these pages or you'll have to answer all questions again.

Note: Videos and exercises in our courses are for information only and not required to view. Final exam questions will not be derived from the videos. OSHAcademy is not responsible for video content.

1. If you ask your co-worker what a safety culture is, he or she will likely say _____.

a. "spending serious time and money in safety"
b. "something that must be managed continually"
c. "it's just the way things are around here"
d. "it's something that you grow in a laboratory"


rf123 stock photo 65436650_s
The employer demonstrates commitment by providing employees with the tools and equipment they need to work safe.

The success of your company's CSMS depends on the willingness of top management to demonstrate a long term serious commitment to protect every employee from injury and illness on the job.

But how do you get it top management commitment if you don't already have it? Real commitment doesn't just appear out of thin air.

Management commitment to safety will most likely occur to the extent each manager clearly understands the positive benefits derived from their effort. Understanding the benefits will create a strong desire to do what it takes to improve the company's safety culture.

Managers will invest serious time and money into effective safety management by developing safety policies, programs, plans and procedures. They will also display leadership through effective accountability and recognition of behaviors and results.

Bottom line: Serious commitment requires serious time and money.

2. When is it more likely that management will make a serious commitment to safety?

a. When managers understand the benefits
b. When OSHA places the company on their inspection list
c. After the company has suffered a serious accident
d. When the company can afford to do so

Next Section


Watch this video to learn how to be a courageous safety leader.

Every day, construction workers, supervisors and managers have many opportunities to communicate and act in ways that demonstrate safety leadership. Unfortunately, these opportunities go unanswered because they are just not seen as real leadership opportunities.

Employers and managers do not understand that the simple expression of tough-caring safety leadership – being tough about safety standards because you care about the employee - can result in enormous benefits. The ability to perceive leadership opportunities improves the company's potential to succeed.

Tough-caring leaders also assume their workers, at all levels of the organization, are good people trying to do the best they can with the skills they have.

Employees, on the other hand, do not always have the physical resources and psychosocial support needed to achieve the kind of results expected of them. Why is that? Because they are not being provided with adequate physical resources (tools, equipment, machinery, materials, etc.) or the education, training, time, and consequences.

Effective leadership can overcome these challenges by providing the resources and training needed for their workers to excel.

3. Which of the following leadership styles can have enormous benefits to the company?

a. Tough-concerned
b. Tough-controlling
c. Tough-coercive
d. Tough-caring

What is a System?

A "system" may be thought of as an orderly arrangement of interdependent activities and related procedures which implement and facilitate the performance of a major activity within an organization. (American Society of Safety Engineers, Dictionary of Terms)

rf123 photo 41659174_m
Syssie is perfectly designed to produce what she produces.

Take a look at Syssie, the cow. Syssie is a system, right? You can tell she's a cow because she looks like one: she has "structure." She needs food, air, water, a suitable environment, tender loving care, and other "inputs" to function properly. We know she has respiratory, digestion, circulation, and many other "processes" inside. Finally, she produces outputs like milk, waste products, and behavior.

Just like Syssie, the Construction Safety Management Systems are composed of the same four basic components:

  1. S tructure. The CSMS may be formal, informal, simple or complex depending on the size and nature of the organization. The structure is reflected in the organizational chart.
  2. I nputs. Inputs include money, people, materials, equipment, and time.
  3. P rocesses. Processes include inspections, training, investigations, safe procedures, and recognition.
  4. O utputs. Examples of CSMS outputs include safe/unsafe behaviors, products, services, morale, and quality.

Bottom line: A construction safety management system will always produce what it is designed to produce.

4. Which of the following would be an output of the construction safety management system (CSMS)?

a. No serious accidents in over a year
b. Management funds safety and health training
c. The safety committee complains about being under-staffed
d. Supervisors conduct safety inspections

Employer Categories on Worksites

rf123 photo 83683684_s
There are four primary categories of employers on construction worksites.

On most construction worksites, more than one employer or contractor will be managing some aspect of safety as a result of the responsibilities they have been assigned. It's important to know on multi-employer worksites more than one employer may be citable for a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard. According to OSHA, there are four employer categories on a multi-employer worksite:

  1. Creating employer: the employer who caused a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard
  2. Exposing employer: This is an employer whose own employees are exposed to the hazard.
  3. Correcting employer: This is an employer who is engaged in a common undertaking, on the same worksite as the exposing employer, and is responsible for correcting a hazard. This usually occurs where an employer is given the responsibility of installing and/or maintaining particular safety/health equipment or devices.
  4. Controlling employer: This is an employer who has general supervisory authority over the worksite, including the power to correct safety and health violations itself or require others to correct them. Control can be established by contract or, in the absence of explicit contractual provisions, by the exercise of control in practice.

It's also important to remember any one employer on a construction site may actually meet the criteria in more than one of the above categories.

5. Which of the following employers on a construction worksite causes a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard?

a. The exposing employer
b. The creating employer
c. The correcting employer
d. The controlling employer

Employer Responsibilities

rf123 stock photo 65436650_s
The employer has ultimate responsibility for all worksite safety.

The controlling employer/contractor assumes all obligations under the standards, whether or not he subcontracts any of the work.

To the extent that a subcontractor agrees to perform any part of the contract, he assumes responsibility for complying with the standards with respect to that part.

With respect to subcontracted work, the controlling contractor and any subcontractors are deemed to have joint responsibility.

Construction companies should designate a person to coordinate, implement, and administer the construction safety management system (CSMS).

Employer responsibilities include the following:

  1. understand potential job hazards and how to eliminate them
  2. conduct or assist with Job Safety Analysis
  3. assure compliance with OSHA construction safety and health standard requirements
  4. conduct regular job site safety and health inspections
  5. establish safety and health procedures
  6. coordinate regular safety and health training
  7. conduct or assist with Tailgate or Tool Box Talks
  8. maintain documentation of training, inspections, injuries and illnesses, and other safety records
  9. participate in accident investigations and implementation of corrective actions
  10. involve employees in the implementation of the CSMS
  11. create statistical reports that compare severity and frequency rates against prior records

6. With respect to subcontracted work on a construction site, the controlling contractor and subcontractors _____.

a. must integrate their operations
b. must prove they are not responsible
c. are independently accountable
d. are deemed to have joint responsibility

Supervisor Responsibilities

rf123 stock photo 42620000_m
Supervisor, as agents of the employer, have many important responsibilities.

The supervisor's attitude plays an important part in obtaining or preventing the acceptance of safe and healthful work practices, policies, and procedures. As an agent of the employer, it is the supervisor's responsibility to identify potential hazards, identify methods to control or eliminate worksite hazards, ensure workers use safe and healthful work practices, and make sure everyone receives safety and health training to do their work.

Immediate supervisors should review, investigate, and take any necessary and appropriate action on all employee reports of hazards or potential hazards. The OSHA test for "adequate" proactive supervision requires supervisors to detect and correct hazards before their employee are injured.

OSHA Requirements for supervisors include:

  • provide employees with sanitary and safe working conditions,
  • assign safety and health responsibilities,
  • give safety and health designers authority to correct hazards,
  • ensure employees that they may voice safety and health concerns without fear of reprisal,
  • inform employees of hazards,
  • coordinate hazard communication with other employers on site and
  • post the OSHA State or Federal Poster.

7. To be considered "adequate," proactive supervision requires supervisors to _____.

a. locate safe spaces for employees
b. be forceful when administering discipline
c. detect and correct hazards before they cause injuries
d. ensure investigations after each accident

Safety Programs

Image of 4D Programs Copyright GSG
4Ds - Design, Develop, Deploy, and Duplicate the CSMS.

A safety program is composed of plans, policies, processes, procedures, and practices forming a plan of action to accomplish a safety objective. An effective safety program integrates safety-related decisions and precautions into them. Construction contractors should design, develop, deploy, and duplicate CSMS programs throughout all worksites, not just to comply with OSHA, but to keep their employees and worksites safe, and to make the company or organization more successful.


Accountability may be thought of as establishing the "obligation to fulfill a task to standard or else." When you are held accountable, your performance is measured against specific criteria and consequences are applied appropriate to the quality of performance. Here are some examples illustrating accountability: 

  • Example: If a builder has built a house for a man and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain. (King Hammurabi of Babylon, 18th Century B.C.)
  • "The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch." (Michael Armstrong- Former CEO of AT&T, Hughes Electronics, and Comcast)

Management may impose safety policies, programs, written plans, directives, rules, training, etc., yet if the appropriate application of effective consequences occur, desired behaviors will not be sustained.

If employees do not believe they are going to be held accountable for the decisions they make and the actions they take, you can be sure that any safety effort is ultimately doomed to failure.

Six important elements should be present in an employer safety accountability program:

  1. formal standards of performance
  2. adequate resources and psychosocial support
  3. a system of performance measurement
  4. application of effective consequences
  5. appropriate application of consequences
  6. continuous evaluation of the accountability system

You can learn more about accountability systems in course 712 Safety Supervision and Leadership.

8. Each of the following is an important element of a safety accountability program, EXCEPT _____.

a. zero tolerance for accidents
b. appropriate application of consequences
c. adequate resources and psychosocial support
d. formal standards of performance
Hazard Prevention
Lockout/Tagout is an administrative control to limit exposure. It works only as long as employees use it.

Hazard Prevention and Control

Hazard prevention and control processes are conducted after hazards are identified and assessed. They help employers prevent existing and potential hazards and eliminate or otherwise control hazards in the workplace.

  • Employers and workers cooperate to select controls are per the "Hierarchy of Controls" to eliminate or reduce hazards and exposure to hazards.
  • To control hazards, elimination, substitution and engineering solutions are used. To eliminate or reduce exposure, administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) are used.
  • A plan is developed to ensure controls are implemented, interim protection is provided, progress is tracked, and the effectiveness of controls is verified.

Effective hazard prevention and control methods protect workers and have the following benefits:

  • Eliminate or reduce workplace hazards and exposure to hazards.
  • Help employees avoid injuries, illnesses, and incidents.
  • Eliminate or minimize safety and health risks.
  • Help employers provide workers with safe and healthful working conditions.

9. What is the primary purpose of the "Hierarchy of Controls?"

a. Mitigate all exposures though engineering controls
b. Eliminate all hazards in the workplace
c. Reduce exposure to hazards
d. Eliminate or reduce hazards and exposure

Safety and Health Education

Both instruction and hands-on practice is required for most safety training.

Safety and health education, through general instruction and technical training, is important for informing workers and managers about workplace hazards and controls so they can work more safely and be more productive.

  • General safety instruction tells employees why safety is important through lecture, videos, discussion, etc.
  • Technical safety training shows them how to do the task or procedure safely. Technical training requires demonstration and practice to make sure workers gain the required skills to work safely. On-the-Job training (OJT) is one of the most effective methods used to teach and verify skills.

It is important to make sure both instruction and technical training are emphasized. If employees do not know why safety is important, they are less likely to care about how to work safely.

Safety and health education also provides workers and managers with a greater understanding of the safety and health program itself, so they can contribute to its development and implementation.

Effective safety and health education programs have the following characteristics:

  • All workers are trained to understand how the program works and how to carry out the responsibilities assigned to them under the program.
  • Employers, managers, and supervisors receive training on safety concepts and their responsibility for protecting workers’ rights and responding to workers’ reports and concerns.
  • All workers are trained to recognize workplace hazards and to understand the control measures that have been implemented.

10. What is one of the most effective safety training methods used in the workplace to teach and verify skills?

a. Lectures and testing
b. On-the-Job Training (OJT)
c. Classroom group discussion
d. Online video presentations

CSMS Analysis and Evaluation

rf123 photo 20051791_s
Regular worksite analysis is proactive and prevents accidents.

Employers should analyze and evaluate each of the programs within the CSMS at least annually to assess what is and is not working, and whether the programs are on track to achieve their objectives. These analysis and evaluation activities are "proactive" because they ultimately help to prevent accidents on the worksite.

Whenever these assessments identify opportunities to improve the CSMS, management should adjust and monitor how well the various programs within the CSMS perform.

Sharing the results of monitoring and evaluation within the workplace, and celebrating successes, will help drive further improvement.

Effective program evaluation and improvement include the following characteristics:

  • Leading indicators are used to analyze, evaluate, and improve programs.
  • Control measures are periodically evaluated for effectiveness.
  • Processes are established to monitor program performance, verify program implementation, and identify program shortcomings and opportunities for improvement.
  • Necessary actions are taken to improve the program and overall safety and health performance.

After a CSMS program has been designed and developed, it should be deployed initially at one worksite to verify it is resulting in the intended improvements. If programs being evaluated are deemed effective, they should be duplicated at all worksites. We'll discuss analyzing, evaluating, and improving hazards on the worksite in Module 3.

11. Which approach to analyzing and developing CSMS programs emphasizes preventing hazards and accidents?

a. Integrated approach
b. Reactive approach
c. Hierarchy approach
d. Proactive approach

Safety Pays!

Take a look and download OSHA's Safety Pays software program that can be helpful in determining direct and indirect cost.

Annual Return on Investment (ROI) in Percent


Management may ask you what the Return on Investment (ROI) will be for an investment in safety. Let's say you recommend a $1,000 investment in taking corrective action to eliminate a hazard that could cause an injury resulting in accident costs of $28,000. To determine the ROI, divide $28,000 by $1,000 which gives you 28. To express it as a percentage, multiply 28 by 100 and you discover that the ROI is 2800 percent.

Payback Period in Months


Management may also want to know how quickly the $1,000 investment will be paid back: what the Payback Period is. To determine the payback period, divide the accident cost of $28,000 by 12 months (1 year) and you arrive at $2,333 per month in potential accident costs. Divide the investment of $1,000 by monthly accident cost of $2,333 and you'll see that the $1,000 investment will be paid back in only .43 months. After that, the investment is actually saving the company money.

If you want, take a closer look at some key elements of an effective recommendation.

12. What is the return on investment (ROI) if a company invests $1,000 to install a machine guard to prevent an estimated $28,000 accident?

a. 28 percent
b. 280 percent
c. 2,800 percent
d. 28,000 percent

Check your Work

Click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer any questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again. Do not refresh the page when correcting answers.

Next Module
OSHAcademy Ultimate Guide Banner Ad