What Action Can Project Managers Take To Be Proactive About Their Workers’ Health?
Construction workers support every industry and residential community, but they also face higher levels of risk on the job than most professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that 2.1 million nonfatal injuries occurred at construction sites in 2020. Project managers can reduce that number by taking these actions to be proactive about their workers’ health.
1. Lead Frequent Safety Seminars
New hires receive safety training before they can start working, but long-term employees should also attend safety-oriented seminars. It’s a valuable refresher for anyone who completed their training years ago. When everyone is up to speed on the latest safety standards, the entire team will be at less risk. Project managers can schedule training sessions regularly throughout the year to ensure all workers understand how to prevent dangerous situations.
2. Stock up on PPE
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for construction workers. Project managers should ensure there’s enough PPE for everyone to use while on-site, as well as budgetary room for ordering extra items if things become lost or broken.
Managers should plan to provide multiple types of essential PPE at no cost to workers while reviewing the budget for an upcoming project. It’s helpful to include equipment like:
• Hard hats
• Face shields
• Splash goggles
• Respiratory masks
Workers should utilize their PPE according to their role or the site’s ongoing work. Anyone involved with chemicals would need goggles over earplugs, while something like airborne debris would require respiratory protection.
3. Prevent Noise-Related Damage
Project managers can do more than provide PPE. They can also reduce the noise each site creates to prevent damage. Heavy machinery can reach over 100 decibels before peaking, shaking any structural components workers have built. Sound deadening sheets can catch powerful sound waves that would otherwise shake things like windows and steel beams, potentially causing them to fall on workers.
4. Discuss Workers’ Concerns
Some workers may not feel comfortable approaching their supervisors about potential safety concerns. Project managers must create a safe space where everyone feels valued and heard. Requesting regular feedback and even allowing anonymous comments through an online portal empowers workers to draw attention to their worries without fear of judgment or dismissal. All issues should be addressed promptly and with respect.
5. Train With New Technology
Seminar lectures with visual presentations are helpful, but they should be just one of the tools project managers use to be proactive about their workers’ health. Management teams can also use the latest technology to train employees about site safety. VR headsets create opportunities to walk workers through worst-case scenarios or tricky situations before they happen. Employees can then prevent accidents or make the best decisions to minimize injuries if an emergency occurs.
6. Staff Sites With Enough People
The latest forecast estimates that the construction industry will face a skilled worker shortage of 650,000 people throughout 2022, so understaffed sites are a pressing safety concern. Employees will feel pressured to meet their project deadlines, which only makes injuries more likely if each person is handling more responsibilities than they’ve trained for. Staffing sites with enough people is one of the best ways to protect workers now and in the future.
7. Test Safety Equipment Daily
Every construction site has safety equipment to prevent injuries. Each preventive measure may pass inspection when established but can become less reliable with wear and tear. Weathering can also erode protections, depending on what a site endures before completion.
Testing safety equipment daily is a simple way to become more proactive about workers’ health. Managers and team leaders can test fall arrest systems with weighted objects or tighten hardware in secured floor openings each morning. The extra effort will make every site safer and prevent potential accidents that could harm workers.
8. Install Security Measures
Many construction sites often lack technological safety measures. They may not proactively fit into each budget, but it’s an important use of any project’s funding. Visible security cameras will prevent civilians from spending time on construction sites after workers leave for the day. Unauthorized individuals won’t accidentally loosen protective guards or break things, leading to accidents the next day.
Cameras will also catch criminals in the act if they decide to steal from the site or damage the property. Workers won’t be at risk of injury if they return to find shattered materials or broken equipment. Preventing theft and property damage goes a long way on construction sites.
9. Establish Bright Lighting Systems
Many accidents happen when people can’t see clearly. Missing a nail while hammering or stepping on an unsecured foundation is more likely to occur if a site has poor lighting. Workers often clock in early in the morning or work late at night, so installing bright lights is an easy way for project managers to improve safety measures.
Light towers and balloon lights are readily available for low-visibility environments. Night lights and high-mast lighting can also come in various wattages to increase the brightness for shifts on cloudy days, early in the morning and late at night. Better visibility helps everyone do their job to the best of their abilities.
10. Clearly Label All Utilities
Active construction sites have varying utilities, but they all go live at some point. Clear labels and signs prevent people from accidentally injuring themselves when that happens. Signs pointing out overhead power lines direct machinery operators to move equipment underneath or around specific areas.
Breaker boxes and live wires need labels so everyone understands when not to touch them or install electrical features. Ground-fault circuit interrupters also protect workers from injuries. These preventive measures may seem small, but they’re significant steps for project managers who want to improve their workers’ health and well-being.
Become Proactive About Worker Health
These are a few actions project managers can take to be proactive about their workers’ health. It’s vital to invest in employee safety so they feel confident when on-site. The future is impossible to know, but preventive measures like training sessions, labeling and lighting are simple ways to ensure everyone remains safe while doing their jobs.