Safety First: An Introduction To Construction Safety Management

Comprehensive planning, monitoring, and control over health and safety responsibilities are essential for the success of your construction project.

Comprehensive planning, monitoring, and control over health and safety responsibilities are essential for the success of your construction project. A safety management system prevents the worst-case scenario from happening on one of your sites, reducing accidents and driving employee morale in one go. Effectively managing safety is a daunting task, which is why we’ve put together a quick introduction to safety management in construction, giving you all the tools you need to kickstart your safety program. 


[Read more: Managing Cost Overruns in Infrastructure Construction: A How-To]


What is Construction Safety Management?

There are various types of construction management. Safety management includes managing all business activities that help prevent accidents and injuries and minimize risk on the job site. 

A safety management system includes all safety-related activity on a work site. Whether it’s hazard identification and safety policies to safety plans, objective setting, safety training schedules, and reporting procedures, you need to map out the entire management structure extensively, accounting for every last detail. 


Why is Construction Safety Management Important?

The 2020 SmartMarket report examined safety management in the construction industry, revealing the significant value contractors experience by investing in safety on the job site. A strong safety management program is crucial, supported by best practices in training and communication. 

Contractors continue to report material benefits from effective safety management on their projects. Most saw a 4.2% improvement in the project schedule with a 4.4% improvement in the project budget. More than two-thirds of the contractors featured in the report confirmed that safety programs directly impacted the construction quality management of their projects, increasing their ability to contract new work. 

The SmartMarket report has been running annually since 2012. It’s interesting to note that one of the most significant changes in the last few years is the explosion of advanced technology and digital tools to improve safety management. 20% of the contractors in the 2020 study believe that virtual reality and visual monitoring using artificial intelligence will drastically positively impact job site safety. 


Benefits of Construction Safety Management

Given the relatively low cost of incorporating a safety management system for your business, the benefits are well worth it. These include:


1. Saves lives

Historically, construction workers suffer more fatal and non-fatal injuries than workers who belong in any other industry. You must introduce appropriate measures to improve safety on-site, preventing suffering or loss. Mitigating the risks for your employees in this context is genuinely a life or death situation. 


2. Legal Compliance

A safety management framework - at the very least - allows your company or organization to meet its legal obligations for local or national health and safety governing bodies. 


3. Improves Collaboration

An overarching safety management system reduces the risk of siloed information and oversights. Often, this comes down to a lack of shared knowledge. By creating one core safety management system, with procedures and information that are accessible to everyone, you can drive a culture of safety and transparency. 


The Bottom Line

A comprehensive safety management system can ultimately affect your bottom line. By following the correct protocols, you can mitigate risks on the job site. Risks that can be financially damaging to any business, often leading to lawsuits or fines. 


Core Pillars A Construction Safety Management System

Risk management in construction projects is an absolute necessity. There are four core pillars your safety program will need to include across the various types of construction management. These include: 


1. Safety Policy and Objectives

The first pillar forms the base for an effective safety management system. It includes all the documentation required for a safety policy, defining the management commitments, safety accountabilities, emergency coordination, and safety activity records. 


2. Safety Risk Management

A crucial step to safety is risk analysis in construction, equipping those in charge before incidents occur. The process starts with hazard identification allowing you to pre-emptively implement appropriate safety measures. This pillar is all about proactively managing risk.


3. Safety Assurance

The next step is system evaluation. For safety management to remain effective, policies must adapt to new challenges. The system should be continuously assessed, making adjustments according to feedback or audits.  


4. Safety Promotion 

The final pillar is to create a “safety culture.” It means communicating safety policies and procedures to management and employees regularly. You should expect workers to engage in safety procedures, offering feedback to management should issues occur. That way, your safety assurance pillar also becomes a two-way street. 


6 Safety Tips To Get Your Started

1. PPE at All Times

All construction workers need to wear the correct PPE at all times on site. You need to enforce these rules, whether it's a hi-viz vest, safety goggles, or steel-toed boots. Tech solutions like Newmetrics can help with safety monitoring and PPE compliance, utilizing its AI system to monitor job-site photos. 


2. Induction For All Employees 

Do not allow any employees to start work without an induction. Each site is unique, with its special hazards and operational procedures. Ensure everyone is up to speed before setting foot on site. Bonus points if you can implement a digital induction tool like the solution offered by Hammertech. It’ll save you time with reduced paperwork and administration.


3. Prioritize a Clean Site 

Construction sites get messy, especially in the early stages. A neat site reduces the risk of slips and trips as employees navigate their way through. Access and escape routes should be clear at all times. 

For maximum effectiveness, we recommend using a digital system for job site inspections like Procore or BIM360. It’s easier for site managers to implement. Plus, you’ll capture valuable data over time. For example, suppose a particular job site sees higher levels of incidents. In that case, you might find that some of the team fail to perform appropriate cleanliness inspections of the site. That way, you can remedy the situation with ease. 


4. Be Risk-Averse 

By creating a safety culture, you can educate and empower employees not to put themselves or others at risk. One wrong move can have disastrous effects. Teach your teams to be responsible, understand the magnitude of the space they're working in, and consistently remain aware of the safety measures around them.

One of the best ways to do that is through Toolbox talks. They are quick meetings, typically between 5 and 20 minutes, where you discuss a specific safety topic relevant to the team. Even increasing the regularity of toolbox talks from weekly to daily has the potential to decrease your TRIR (Total Recordable Incident Rate) by 73%.


5.  Put Up Signs and Follow Procedures 

Create posters illustrating the various safety rules and procedures outlined in the induction and place them around the site. Run risk assessments on employee activities, keeping safety measures in control as the project moves through various phases.


6. Make Reporting Simple 

During the induction, you'll need to identify the process employees should follow to report unsafe workspaces or faulty equipment. Again, you need to foster an environment where employees work with you to create a safe job site. Practical training on appropriate equipment is a must-have, and if anything feels unsafe or defective, employees need to follow the correct procedure.   


How can ALICE Technologies help? 

Use ALICE’s AI-powered simulation and optimization platform to identify potential safety hazards and threats to your construction project. Both the pre-construction and project management solutions can help you identify optimizations that will minimize the impact of potential delays. Take your risk analysis to the next level, allowing you to create the ultimate safety management system. 

Request a demo today!

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