Keeping Your Construction Crew Healthy and Safe Over the Holidays
The holidays are just around the corner, and while many of your employees might be thinking about some well-deserved time off with family and friends, there will still be those that work right through the season.
Because of that, it’s important not to let your mind wander off into “holiday mode” too quickly. Before anyone breaks for the holiday, making sure all of your employees are safe and healthy should be your top priority. With over 150,000 construction site injuries occurring each year, your diligence through the fourth quarter is necessary.
So, what can you do to make sure your crew is taken care of over the holidays? How can you ensure their safety so they can go home and enjoy some rest, relaxation and celebrating with their families?
While proper hygiene has always been important, the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to the forefront in just about every industry. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit the construction sector even harder. About 60% of construction workers are at a greater risk of developing the COVID-19 virus due to age, medical conditions, and other factors.
So, while putting hand washing signs up and providing hand sanitizer is a start, it might not be enough to keep your crew from spreading germs – especially during cold and flu season. If you really want to go the extra mile to keep things sanitary and hygienic, put some of the following practices in place:
• Provide adequate, clean drinking water.
• Set up portable toilets with hand-washing stations.
• Provide Showers.
• Offer changing rooms for workers before they go home for the day.
Industrial hygiene is not only important for reducing the spread of viruses but keeping your employees safe from on-the-job hazards.
If you’re dealing with biological hazards, chemicals, or air contaminants, make sure you provide the right protective gear and equipment to keep everyone from getting sick. That can include everything from hard hats and safety goggles to hazmat suits when chemicals are involved.
Reducing the Risk of Injuries
Most people understand that there are physical risks involved with being on a construction site. Accidents are common. So much so, that over one-quarter of all construction workers have been injured on the job.
Some of the most common accidents are falls, falling debris, electrocution and machinery malfunctions.
While you may not always be able to prevent accidents from happening, there are things you can do to maintain a safer site, including:
• Providing and utilizing safety gear.
• Encouraging regular breaks.
• Noticing warning signs.
• Inspecting the workplace regularly.
In the winter, your safety precautions should also include providing a warm area for your workers to take breaks and removing snow and ice from areas where it might be easy for people to slip and get injured.
Make sure your workers are aware of the signs of frostbite and hypothermia, so they can look out for each other throughout the day. Education is an important part of safety, even if it requires frequent training and re-training.
Managing Mental Health
It’s easy to focus entirely on the physical well-being of your construction crew. But, mental health and wellness are just as important. The holidays can be a stressful time of year. On top of that, many people are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic.
Promoting mental health, especially around the holidays, can keep your crew from experiencing burnout. That’s important for a few reasons. First, a burnt-out worker is more likely to be tired and distracted. That can lead to mistakes that could cause injuries or put others in danger.
You can help your crew avoid burnout by setting realistic expectations. It’s the holidays, after all. Consider giving your workers some extra time off or shortening the workdays. Now isn’t the time of year to expect your crew to tackle an abundance of projects.
Additionally, make sure you’re delegating responsibilities appropriately. Everyone should only have as much work as they can handle. If you feel like one or two of your crew members are carrying a lot of extra responsibilities, make some changes.
Finally, set some boundaries. It’s not uncommon for some people to want to work extra hours or get just “one more thing” done before they go home at night. Sometimes, you might have to be the voice of reason for certain crew members. Remind them to go home, spend time with their families, and get some rest. They’ll be grateful in the long run.
When you keep your crew’s physical and mental health and safety in mind, you’ll show them that they are valued and appreciated. Maintaining a caring environment in the construction industry produces loyal employees who are more productive, motivated, and happier. There’s no better time of year to let your employees know how much you appreciate them, and that starts by making sure they stay safe.