The world is more connected than ever before. All it takes is the tap of a screen or the click of a mouse to effortlessly connect with anyone. This constant connectivity has its positives, but it has also led to the creation of a culture steeped in distraction.
What can business owners do to reduce distracted work in the construction industry?
1. Recognize the Problem
The first tip for reducing distracted work in the construction industry is to recognize that there's a problem in the first place. It's easy to disregard workplace distractions when employees get their jobs done in a timely manner, but it just takes one slip-up to turn distraction into injury, accident and even death.
Sources of distraction on the worksite may not be immediately obvious. Personal device usage is a big one to be addressed, but construction employees may also be distracted due to long work hours or distracting sounds. Managers should take time to speak to workers and identify potential worksite issues before they create problems.
2. Provide Alternate Communication Avenues
Everyone has a cellphone in their pocket, which has led many supervisors and business owners to utilize that constant connection to facilitate on-the-job communication. If cellphones are creating a dangerous distraction, seek out alternative communication tools to keep crews in touch with one another and with management without the need for cellphones.
Consider looking back in time for a solution to this problem. Before cellphones became easily accessible, wireless radios and other tools were commonplace. Returning to a simpler time can help reduce workplace distractions while still allowing supervisors to stay in touch with their team members.
3. Set and Enforce Personal Device Policies
It can be challenging to reduce workplace distractions if there aren't any policies in place detailing how to go about it. Take a closer look at your existing policies. Are there rules concerning cellphones and other personal devices? If not, now is the perfect time to set them and begin enforcement.
For companies worried about workplace distraction, a zero-tolerance policy is going to be the best option. Ensure that everyone on the jobsite knows that using personal devices while on the clock is not permitted. Even one use of a cellphone on the job can lead to dangerous distractions, so it's best to keep these things at home or off the jobsite.
4. Lower Noise Levels Whenever Possible
Distraction doesn't come solely in the form of checking emails or responding to text messages on the job. On many worksites, loud machinery and construction processes can also put a worker’s ability to communicate and assess an environment at risk. According to OSHA, employees shouldn't be exposed to sounds in excess of 90 dBA for an eight-hour shift due to the risk of hearing loss.
Construction managers can take steps to lower noise levels whenever possible. This includes keeping employees away from loud equipment if they're not involved in operating it, reducing the amount of time spent in high-decibel areas, and providing quiet areas where employees can rest and retreat from the noisy jobsite.
5. Engage Workers in Safety Training
Setting up zero-tolerance rules for the use of personal devices in the workplace is only part of the puzzle. Supervisors should start communicating the risks of distracted work from day one so employees know how important it is to be alert on the jobsite. This is particularly important when distraction stems from sources outside your team’s control.
Safety training doesn’t need to be one dull session at the start of one’s career. Managers can implement regular safety talks and pre-shift discussions to get feedback from all workers and stay focused on the challenges of the day. It’s helpful for leaders to be engaging in safety talks so the team feels their wellbeing is at the heart of any new policies.
Ultimately, ongoing training is what will help end distracted work in construction. Regular reminders and check-ins will reduce the risk of seasoned professionals getting complacent. When everyone is on the same page, safety policies can be all the more effective.
Reducing Workplace Distraction in Construction
Reducing workplace distractions in the construction industry is everyone's responsibility, from the newest laborer to whoever is sitting atop the corporate ladder. Start by being mindful of the problem and take all the necessary steps to keep the worksite safe from distraction-related accidents.