Resources - Construction

Construction Safety and Health Management

Historically, the construction industry suffers the highest injury and fatality rates of any economic sector in the United States except mining. Consequently, it's important that management fulfill its safety responsibilities. Management should:

  • analyze compliance and accident statistics by contractor(including subcontractors), by facility, and by project
  • review safety performance by tracking accident costs-- both direct and indirect.
  • evaluate the accident records of all bidders during the course of the procurement process to avoid the use of high-risk contractors and subcontractors.

Due to the dynamic nature of construction work, management's role may be even more important than in general industry. The various phases of a construction project make continuous proactive management involvement critical throughout the life of each project. For instance, daily worksite safety inspections are necessary on most construction sites.

Employers should initiate and maintain programs necessary to ensure safe working conditions. It is the employer's responsible for initiating and maintaining a safe and health program that help protect all employees, other contractors, sub-contractors, visitors and the public.

The general contractor should prepare and submit a written incident/accident plan for approval before work is initiated. General contractor should also prepare a comprehensive written safety and health program addressing all aspects of on-site construction operations. A detailed review of the contractors's written safety and health program should be conducted during the preconstruction safety meeting. A copy of the pertinent provisions of the contractor's safety and health program should be given to new employees.

Safety and Health Programs and Plans

The starting point for the development of an effective safety and health program at construction work sites is the commitment of management. The employer should consider employee safety as the company's a primary, non-negotiable value and be willing to spend time and money on program development, safety equipment, and employee training.

One of the best ways management can demonstrate its commitment to safety is to develop a performance-oriented written safety and health plan that is comprehensive, yet general enough to cover the various types of projects conducted by the company or organization. This safety and health plan should establish and communicate a clear goal for the program and define objectives for meeting that goal. Copies of the plan should be distributed to all employees. The plan should be informative by including information on the use of personal protective equipment, the proper use of tools and power equipment, safe work procedures and practices, and any company safety and health policies. The plan should also outline procedures for formally evaluating plan's effectiveness at least once a year.

Worksite Safety and Health Plan

A worksite-specific safety plan should be kept at each worksite. At a minimum, the plan should include information on the following subjects as appropriate:

  • safety responsibilities
  • emergency procedures
  • inspections
  • incident and accident prevention
  • hazard communication
  • housekeeping
  • record keeping
  • grounded electrical systems
  • personal protective equipment
  • demolition
  • hoisting and rigging
  • scaffolding

  • Plans should also be directive. They need to assign responsibilities to individuals for carrying out safety responsibilities such as administrative procedures, controlling and coordinating the work of subcontractors, inspections, etc. However, merely assigning responsibility not enough. Each person should be held accountable for the decisions they make that result in safe behaviors, activities, and performance. Each employee assigned safety responsibilities should be given adequate authority and resources to meet their responsibilities.

    Although some companies require that the recordable injury rate for each supervisor be factored into annual review and promotion decisions and others use a formal tracking system that allows supervisors with good safety records to earn bonuses, it's best to measure and recognize supervisor activities such as frequency of inspections, quality of identifying and correcting hazards, quality of training, etc. Supervisors have control over these activities. They do not have control over the number of accidents at the worksite.

    Employees should be held accountable for complying with safety policies and procedures. When the employer is justified, employees who violate safety procedures should be subject to disciplinary action. The company's overall program should include a progressive disciplinary component that is clearly written and communicated. The program should establish a hierarchy of disciplinary measures, beginning with verbal and written warnings, followed by suspension, and termination.

    The safety and health plan should consider the need to make adjustments to the plan required to take account of progress of the work or any changes that might occur. The project safety plan should be communicated and made readily available to all employees at the work site. The project safety and health plan should be specific and applicable to the scope of the work being performed at the worksite. Each contractor is responsible to develop, implement, monitor, and enforce their safety and health program. This requirement is especially important if a contractor has established a pattern of non-compliance with the project safety and health program and/or laws and regulations. Responsibilities for various managers include:

    • Construction manager should approve a written project safety plan prior to commencement of any activity on the worksite.
    • Senior Project Supervisor has final authority and responsibility for the Project Safety and Health program
    • Senior Contractor Supervisor has the final authority and responsibility for the Contractor Safety and Health Program
    • Project Constructor is responsible for assessing qualifications and performance of Senior Project Supervisor and Senior Contractor Supervisor.
    • Project Constructor should establish disciplinary policy to comply with program
    • Safety manager appointed by management to be responsible for loss control.

    Source: Various

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    Copyright ©2000-2016 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Students may reproduce materials for personal study. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).