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Construction Technology How to...

10 Steps for Selecting & Implementing Technology in Construction

It was 6 am, and I was in Pittsburg, on my way to conduct a training session for a roofing company that was one of our early beta clients. I had spent the previous months writing code and incorporating their feedback on their pain points.
This was to be our first “real” deployment, and I felt confident that we had done everything possible to prepare. Boy was I wrong….

The first step in our training was to install the Harness web app on everyone’s smartphone or tablet. I had prepared a list of written instructions and also had slides projected on the wall.
The first instruction was “Open Your Web Browser.”

The response came almost immediately…

“What the f!$k is a web browser?”

I had to rethink my whole game plan.

Construction: The Last Frontier Of Technology

Construction workers are a special breed. I mean that in the best way possible. These are the guys that build the roofs over our heads and giant skyscrapers that define our cities; they are incredibly talented.

They’re great at taking ideas from drawings and blueprints and turning them into reality. But when it comes to technology that most of us view as commonplace – smartphones, apps, computers – these mighty workers often struggle.

Lawyers, doctors, truck drivers, and restaurant workers are all using apps to help them with their daily work. These apps solve critical operational problems, such as sharing documents, promoting communication, and billing customers, yet penetration rates of these solutions in construction, lag far behind.

Recent studies have shown that unlike other industries, productivity has not improved over time in construction. In fact, it may actually cost more and take longer to complete a project today than it did twenty years ago.

How Worker Age and Culture Sets Construction Behind

Age is certainly a factor. Older workers began their careers before cellphones were in everyone’s pockets. They didn’t grow up surfing the web and touching screens like Millennials and Gen Z do.

Plans, work orders, and schedules are printed out, and there is likely a clipboard for every foreman. They like it that way because “that’s the way they’ve always done it.”

These workers still dominate the industry, which means lots of processes that should have evolved have stayed the same to accommodate their resistance to change.

But that won’t last forever. In fact, as the baby boomers are now reaching retirement, they’re beginning to leave the workforce in droves. The construction industry is now facing a shortage of skilled workers, and companies don’t have the luxury of taking a wait-and-see stance.

This is especially true when you consider that it takes eight to twelve years for a worker to acquire the skills and knowledge of a trade professional.

Obviously, these workers need to be replaced with new, younger employees.

It’s become quite clear that the younger generations are looking for ways to work smarter, not harder, and therefore aren’t attracted to the construction trades’ paper-centric processes.

They’re expecting to use technology to perform their daily work. That’s a big problem for firms that don’t embrace change now, making it impossible for them to recruit and retain workers.

Employee Efficiency in Tools vs. Tech

As the materials, techniques, and tools they use on the job have advanced, construction workers have adjusted very well because they can see the benefits for themselves. Why use an old-fashioned hammer when you could use a sleek nail gun and get your work done faster?

Some companies have pushed back on the technology resistance and moved forward with new processes. They have found that even older workers are able to adapt to change if they understand why it’s necessary and how it can make their job easier.

Although, it is a tougher sell when it comes to technology like smartphones and tablets because they don’t appear to impact their actual work as much. But they can.

There are amazing apps in the marketplace that enable better daily production reporting, time tracking, safety, and material ordering.

10 Steps To Overcome Construction Industry Challenges

As we’ve discussed, technology is the key to addressing challenges in the construction industry. Labor shortages, more competition, and increasing costs for materials mean that companies MUST look for solutions in order to stay in business. Here is how to find the right ones for your company.

1) Set Your Priorities. Keep it Simple

When you start out, you may be tempted to dive in and try to tackle all the challenges your company faces, but that may be overwhelming, and you have a high chance of failure if you take on too much.

Instead, make a list of priorities and choose one or two items. Those could be the simplest issues to fix or the most impactful. It’s up to you.

2) Make a Map of the Status Quo

Whatever the process you’d like to change, you need to know where your current gaps are. Creating a visual map is a great way to do this.

Get together with your team and create a swimlane document. Make sure to thoroughly document what the current process is and who it affects.

3) Draw The Best Case Scenario

Use your process map and identify improvements that could be made. Do this WITHOUT considering a change in the method.

For example, if your time tracking process is done on paper but it’s touching more people than it needs to, consider removing those extra steps before changing the technology involved.

Often companies can find efficiency gains simply through this examination. Make a new map to reflect any changes made.

4) List Your Requirements

This is an important step and when companies don’t spend an appropriate amount of time to do it, they can run into problems later on when evaluating or implementing solutions.

An example of a requirement could be “The ability to show us a dashboard of safety issues by type and crew.”

The goal here is to be able to clearly identify if a particular solution will work for you. Breaking this list into ‘Must Haves’ and ‘Wish List’ can help determine the best solution down the road.

Obviously, we want to choose the solution that satisfies all our must-have requirements and as many from the wish list as possible.

5) Know How to Measure Success

Imagine where you’d like to be a year after implementing a new solution. What are the metrics you can use to determine if you’ve been successful? Is it hours saved, costs reduced, people hired?

Make some goals for these items. If possible, collect your existing data / averages, to generate a baseline of where you are now. This will come in handy a year from now as a reminder of how far you have come.

6) Evaluate Your Options. Also called “Due Diligence”

This is the fun part. Look for companies that are providing solutions for your particular issue. You can Google search, talk to other contractors, or make some time to attend industry events like trade shows and conferences.

Arrange demos of various solutions and ask yourself, “Does this solution satisfy my requirements?” You might even create an evaluation checklist so that you don’t forget anything.

You’ll also want to assess the company providing the solution by getting satisfactory answers to questions such as:

  • “Do you provide implementation support along with your solution?”
  • “How much customization are we able to make? Is there any cost to that?”
  • “Do you have any successful case studies in our industry? Can you provide client references?”
  • “What level of ongoing support do you provide?”

Remember to check those references and ask about the experience of working with the company and its solution.

7) Get Your Team Involved Early

When looking at solutions that affect field workers, having some of them participate in all of these phases is a necessity. Too often, field workers are the last to be included in the process and you run a risk of pushback and failure if they’re not engaged early.

No one wants to be simply told they must do something a certain way. By including field staff in the process, and giving them a say in the outcome, your project is more likely to succeed.

8) Implement In Stages

Changing how things are done is hard. Especially when it comes to long-standing processes and the nature of the construction workforce as we discussed earlier. So make things a little easier and use a phased approach when implementing your new solutions.

Rather than have workers immediately adopt every feature of a particular solution, have them begin with the easiest or most impactful. Once everyone is comfortable, introduce the next feature and so on.

9) Don’t Just Train. Explain

At Harness, we spend the first few minutes of every onsite training session explaining why the company has chosen our solution and what they hope to gain.

We also highlight how the field workers’ lives are going to get easier/better with this new solution in place. We acknowledge the difficulties of doing something new but stress that learning to use software is just like learning to use a new tool; it just takes a little time and practice.

You’ll almost always have a few doubters in the room, but that’s where engaging your team early is helpful. You’ll likely already have a few people convinced it works, and they can help address any concerns from their doubting colleagues.

10) Monitor Your Company’s Progress

Maintain regular contact with field staff during the implementation phase, and use their feedback to make any changes or address any issues that you didn’t foresee.

Once things are chugging along nicely, use those metrics that you identified previously to see how your company is doing.

Share the results with the rest of your team and celebrate any successes, no matter how small. Doing this tends to open peoples’ eyes to the power of change and will help you on future projects.

Technology Can Help Your Company If You Embrace It Properly

There’s a lot of urgent business issues that can be solved with technology. Your company will be leaner, more efficient, safer, and in many cases enjoy increased profits and retention.

But not following best practices when implementing solutions can be perilous. The good news is, now you know how to plan for change, search for the right solution, and launch it successfully!

The experience I gained in some of those initial training sessions really opened my eyes in terms of how our potential users viewed technology.

I started to examine my assumptions about how “easy” I thought I’d made things. We actually rewrote all our training materials to include illustrations, and video explanations so that even guys that would ask “What the F!$k is a web browser?” could follow them.

You should be convinced by now that technology is the way to go, which means the next challenge you’ll likely face is making your case to upper management.

Luckily for you, we have an article that covers exactly how to do that. Click the button below to learn four ways to make your technology implementation pitch rock solid.

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News Reaction

Harness Software Acquires CertGround App, Hires Founder

CertGround app is used by union locals to manage training and its founder, Sean Campbell will join the Harness development team.

Harness Software announced today that it has agreed to acquire CertGround, an app used by union locals to manage training & track certifications for their membership.  Sean Campbell, the founder of CertGround will join the Harness development team.  The terms of the deal were not disclosed and the transaction is scheduled to close in the summer of 2021.

CertGround founder Sean Campbell, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in London, ON Canada is a self-taught developer and initially created CertGround to help his local union chapter better manage training & certifications.

“When I met Sean, I was immediately impressed with the high level of skill he has as a developer.  The fact that he has worked for over 10 years as an electrician before learning to code gives him an insight into our users that is invaluable.  I’m so excited to have him join our team”, said Tom Whitaker, CEO of Harness Software.

Existing CertGround customers will not be adversely affected as Harness will continue to support them separately for the foreseeable future.  Eventually, the features of CertGround will be incorporated into the core Harness Safety App.

Harness Software currently serves thousands of daily active users and allows construction companies to easily deploy & manage a strong health & safety program.  Companies using Harness have safer job sites, fewer injuries, lower insurance costs, and are better able to recruit & retain workers.

This is the first acquisition in the company’s history.  The company isn’t done making noise and has plans to announce more major initiatives soon. “2021 is going to be a momentous year for our company,” said Whitaker.

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Definitions How to...

What is a Near Miss Report & Why They are Important to Construction Safety

Ask any contractor to tell you about a close call they had on the job site and get ready for what is likely a very good story, and there are probably a few of them!

I’ll never forget back when I worked in the office at a roofing company and one of my repair guys called me to say he had just put his foot through a rotten spot in the roof.

He was calling me not to report the near miss but because he was stuck. He needed me to send someone to go in the attic and pull his boot off so he could pull his leg out without getting stabbed by the plywood shards.

When the ‘rescue team’ went in, they could see from the attic the extent of the rot. Had he taken one step further, he probably would have fallen right through.

What is a Near Miss?

By now, you’ve probably figured out that a near miss is anytime something happens on your job site that comes very close to causing harm to a person or property.

You can also consider an occurrence as a near miss if it would have caused harm if someone had been in the vicinity. For example, if someone drops a hammer off the second story of a building, it doesn’t have to come close to hitting someone to be considered a near miss.

Some other examples of near misses are:

  • Someone trips on an extension cord but doesn’t harm themselves
  • A forklift bumps a skid of material, it teeters but does not fall
  • An extension ladder tips over, narrowly missing a parked truck

The only difference between these occurrences and an actual accident is luck. Had the extension cord been next to a stairwell, the forklift been moving a bit faster or the truck was parked differently, the outcomes could have been disastrous.

What to do When a Near Miss Occurs

In short, when a near miss occurs, treat it like it was an accident.

Every near miss should trigger an investigation into what went wrong, determining all the contributing factors. Then changes need to be implemented in order to prevent a future accident.

When I treated that roofing near miss as an accident, I was able to launch a full review of our repair process. We ended up changing it to start with an interior attic inspection in order to spot any major rot prior to going on the roof. We also made the crews a minimum of two workers each so someone would be on site to help in the event of an emergency.

In order for the near miss process to work, your crews need to know they are responsible for reporting them when they happen. Had my repair guy not gotten stuck in the roof, I probably wouldn’t have found out about it because there was no injury to report and we didn’t have a near miss program.

Also, there must be no fear of repercussion when reporting a near miss. You absolutely cannot ask someone to report one and then reprimand the error, especially if it was human error.

A near miss must be looked at as a learning opportunity that will protect the future safety of all your employees.

What are the Benefits of Implementing a Near Miss Program?

Handling incidents as a near miss rather than waiting for the inevitable accident to occur means your job sites are safer. Safer job sites are first and foremost important to your employees but they also save your company money.

Basically, you are getting all the changes and modifications that follow an accident, to improve the safety at your company, without having to report an actual incident.

Lowering the number of reportable incidents means your experience modification rating (EMR) will go down, and that in turn will lower your workers compensation and insurance premiums!

How Harness Makes Near Miss Reporting a Breeze

You should already be convinced that tracking, investigating, and following up on every single near miss at your company makes logical sense and will reduce your workload down the line. But you are probably wondering where you will find the time to do that.

Utilizing a safety management system like Harness is probably your best solution. Every Harness client receives a custom-built incident reporting and follow up form, making it easy for:

  • Your foremen to fill out a quick form about what happened, capturing all the relevant info and even pictures
  • You to be immediately notified of the near miss
  • You or a supervisor to complete an investigation on contributing factors
  • Management to review graphs and trends involved
  • Positive changes to be implemented

To see a video of our Near Miss Report in action, Click the Image below:


Qries

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Construction Technology

How a Robot Dog is Changing the Future of Construction Safety

Can Technology Really Make Construction Work Easier, Safer and Even More Fun?

Boston Dynamics – an American engineering and robotics design company, believes so. The company has built several robots and this article will focus on their impressive creation named Spot. Spot is accomplishing all three of those goals in a variety of industries, construction being one of them.

What Can Spot Do?

Spot – a dog robot, is a highly advanced machine that is capable of navigating both environmentally tough terrain and the indoors. This robot can handle stairs, crouching under obstacles and even avoid them if you accidentally steer Spot towards one. The robot can complete site monitoring, takes thermal readings, detect anomalies and sends all the data back remotely.

Spot comes with some really cool features too:

  • Mobile manipulation
  • 3D vision system with SLAM and obstacle avoidance
  • Omni-directional walking and multiple walking and trotting gaits
  • Bioinspired dynamic control
  • human operated or autonomously
  • Operating in environments -20C to 45C

Check out Spot in action:

How is Spot Going to Keep Construction Workers Safe?

The answer is very simple – by conducting automated routine inspections and capturing site-specific data. Spot comes with an unbelievable camera that can even zoom in while being remotely controlled from anywhere in the world. Spot has the ability to walk pre-programmed routes or be controlled by a joystick.

This allows workers to check all areas from a completely safe space and see any hazards that exist on their site. Knowing what hazards exist prior to the job starting enables proper documentation and control measures.

Furthermore, the latest addition to Spot is a robotic arm attached to its back. This new feature gives Spot the ability to open doors, grab levers to turn things on and off, and even carry/ move debris.

The ability to dispatch Spot into high risk areas instead of sending valuable and vulnerable, human employees is paramount.

The Future of Construction Safety is Here

Watch how Spot navigates a construction site:

The future of safety is always evolving and Spot is an innovation that continues to push the boundaries. Although not as sexy as a dog robot, Harness is also working to revolutionize the construction safety industry. We are always evaluating new technologies such as Spot and are actively working to integrate them into our products and services.

To learn how we can help your company create safer job sites and become more efficient, book a demo now!

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How to...

How To Gamify Safety To Build A Better Safety Culture

 

For the majority of construction companies, finding and keeping qualified workers is a huge challenge. As we’ve discussed before, building a culture of safety is one way to help with recruitment and retention.

Short attention spans and complacency are both problems that safety directors everywhere want to overcome. In this article, we’re going to look specifically at the theory of “gamification” and how it can help you keep workers better engaged in your safety program so you see better results.

What is Gamification?

Simply put, gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. Gamification techniques are intended to leverage people’s natural desires for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, and self-expression. It’s science!

Many of us grew up playing video games. Remember that feeling you had when you beat the boss of a level, achieved the high score, or unlocked a new power or weapon for your character? That’s what gamification is all about—creating that feeling.

Most of us want to feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. Gamification can tap into that desire by creating a “team” element to safety. Since construction is still dominated by men, it’s also worth noting that gamification can awaken the competitive instincts that they often display on the playing field in sports. Not that women also do not possess these instincts. My wife loves to win at poker and often does.

Gamification unlocks traits that humans have been developing for millennia. It turns your safety program into something fun. When something is fun, it’s more engaging and workers are likely to spend more time focusing their attention on it.

What are the Elements of Gamification?

Games use a set of standard building blocks to create the game conditions. Those blocks include:

  1. Points
    • Usually provided as a reward for completing certain activities or goals.
  2. Badges
    • A visual representation of achievement. Analogous to medals, trophies, ribbons, etc.
  3. Leaderboards
    • Leaderboards rank players according to their relative success, measuring them against a certain success criterion.
  4. Performance Graphs
    • Often used alongside leaderboards, instead of ranking a players performance, graphs are mainly used to compare a players performance in a visual way.
  5. Creating Teammates
    • Introducing teams to any game promotes cooperation amongst players as they need to work together towards a common goal.

How To Incorporate Gamification Into Your Construction Safety Program

If you want to start building a better culture of safety, there are easy ways to use gamification to your advantage:

1. Implement A Points System

Reward workers with Safety Points that can be redeemed for company merchandise, tools, gifts, etc…

Points are a great way to start gamifying your safety program and getting the competitive juices flowing.

A couple of key “points” to remember about points programs:

  • Award points based on behavior. Not results. Safety is a process. Reward things like completing additional safety training, conducting safety planning activities regularly, or conducting inspections. DO NOT reward workers if their job sites are injury/incident free. This could discourage workers from reporting unsafe conditions or injuries and run your company afoul with OSHA.
  • Make the points scheme easy to understand and allow for workers to earn a decent reward for “expected” behavior and excellent rewards for “excellent” behavior. For example, a worker that completes all his assigned training, might earn a $25 company store credit at the end of the year, but a worker that goes above and beyond might earn a new set of tools worth $100 or more.
  • Include the point values when assigning tasks to reinforce their value and celebrate purchases that workers make with them. You might even award arbitrary points to workers throughout the year if you notice something special about their commitment to safety.

2. Make Top Performers In Your Company Into Status Symbols

As we discussed above, badges trophies, certificates, & ribbons create a sense of achievement in the recipient. They also can create a strong competitive drive in others that want to achieve the same level of recognition.

The Tour de France uses a yellow jersey to indicate the race leader during its various stages. You could do something similar with your company uniforms by designating certain colors for top performers or issuing higher quality company-branded apparel only for those that achieve certain safety objectives.
Another idea would be to use hardhat stickers or some other type of tag to make your safety leaders stand out and encourage others to join them as status symbols.

3. Performance & Leaderboard Screens

Apple, one of the most successful companies ever, installs TV screens in the employee-only areas of their stores to show real time sales results in comparison with other stores nearby. This leads to healthy competition between stores and a healthier bottom line for the Mac and iPhone maker.
You can use the same technique when it comes to safety. Install a screen in your company training area, break room, or another gathering point. Use it to show your current safety points leaders, or the most recent safety observation stats from an inspection app like Harness.

Harness uses a combination of a leaderboard to track personnel compliance and graphs to track overall safety performance. This can be displayed on any sized screen.

4. Create Cooperation AND Competition

Gamification, when used properly, shouldn’t turn every worker into mortal enemies vying for those all important safety points. Your program should be structured to foster cooperation as well as a health competition. Here are a couple of ways to accomplish this:

    • Establish both individual & team goals

A person should be able to stand out within the team but really make team performance the ultimate goal. Establish criteria for the team to earn points together and reward members equally for reaching those goals.

  • Allow workers to “gift” points or request points to gifted to people they see doing the right things.

Allowing workers to their co-workers kudos via the points system is an excellent way to foster cooperation.

Gamification For Safety Works

Hopefully by now you understand more about gamification and how to incorporate it into your safety program. Doing it right will lead to more engaged, safer workers, less incidents, increased retention, and a better bottom line.

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How to...

How to Assemble a Construction Safety Manual: A 6 Step Guide and Resource

Nobody wants to put a safety manual together. It’s boring and tedious and worst of all, incredibly confusing. A safety manual, sometimes called a safety program, is the formal document that outlines your company’s safety mission and how you go about implementing it. Just typing that makes my eyes glaze over.

You’ve likely already been on the OSHA website and gone down a rabbit hole of link after link after link until eventually you forgot what your original question even was.

Then, just to make it that much more complicated, you find out there are 28 states that have OSHA Approved workplace safety and health programs, in addition to OSHA, and you must meet their requirements as well.

Nothing you read gives you a clear answer, and I totally get it. I felt the same way researching this article, and I have a background in safety!

The problem is that there are so many variables that it’s hard to make all-encompassing safety regulations, for every contractor in every trade, in every state. But that sounds more like an excuse than anything and doesn’t help you at all.

Getting Started

Here is what I would do if I was in your shoes: I’d get started by getting something in writing because something is better than nothing. If OSHA knocked on your door tomorrow, at least you’d be able to hand over a document of some sort, which they will likely give you credit for.

I’ve summarized for you below what is most commonly included in a safety manual so you aren’t left staring at a blank page at the end of this. I’ve even provided you with a bunch of links to samples provided by OSHA themselves, so you can start by literally copying and pasting.

However, even OSHA puts a disclaimer on their samples that it’s not a one size fits all situation. They want you to read through everything they give you and make changes based on your company specifically.

Key Elements of a Safety Manual:

1. Company Safety Policy

A safety policy is written by (or at least approved by) the owner, COO or President of your company. It is usually about a page long and expresses their commitment to making worker safety a core company value.

It may also include the motivation or reasoning as to why the policy is in place, which can simply be: to comply with OSHA and state regulations and to prevent employee injury and illness.

It’s important that the policy is personally signed by the highest level of management so that everyone knows the policy is in place from the top down. Best practice says it should be updated and re-signed annually.

Some sample policies are provided by OSHA on page 48 of their Small Business Handbook.

The remainder of your safety manual outlines how the company is going to honor the commitments in the policy you just created.

2. Safety Responsibilities

A safety manual should very clearly define exactly what is expected of each employee. In order to account for employee turnover, this is best broken down into roles. Here are the most common roles and some sample responsibilities to get you started:

  1. The Employer
    • cover the costs of PPE
    • factor in time and resources for safety within each project
    • provide access to safety documentation (SDS, injury data, inspection findings)
    • Provide general and trade specific safety training
    • Comply with local safety regulations as well as company policy
    • Fully investigate incidents
  2. Supervisors / Management
    • Comply with local safety regulations as well as company policy
    • Maintain and wear proper PPE
    • Report safety issues to upper management
    • Ensure crews compliance with rules
    • Report all accidents / incidents / near misses
    • Work in a manner that does not endanger others
    • Take every reasonable precaution to prevent personal injury
    • Conduct toolbox talks, site inspections and JHA’s
  3. Employees
    • Comply with local safety regulations as well as company policy
    • Maintain and wear proper PPE
    • Report safety issues to supervisor
    • Report all accidents / incidents / near misses
    • Attend safety meetings
    • Actively participate in ongoing safety training
    • Work in a manner that does not endanger others
    • Take every reasonable precaution to prevent personal injury

Make sure you add in any additional responsibilities for your company, and feel free to create more roles. As you can see above, there should be an overlap of some of the duties, providing a sense that safety is everyone’s responsibility.

3. Hazard Identification and Controls

This is where your trade really comes into play. A plumber is going to experience very different hazards than, say, an excavator; and the excavator, different than a framer. Luckily, this section does not need to cover every single hazard your team may run into, but the most common ones they are exposed to.

Start by generating a list of hazards specific to your trade. If you need some help getting started, take a look at OSHA Standard 1926 for a list of regulations specific to construction.

The list is not easy to navigate, but if you scan through each lettered subpart (i.e., Subpart D), you’ll get an idea of the main categories. If the category applies to your trade, review the regulations within it for ideas.

For each hazard, you then need to include a control method. Try and use the most effective control (elimination) whenever possible and the least effective (PPE) as a last resort.

(image source: Niosh)

Finally, there are four hazard types that OSHA states must have written plans in place if your trade is exposed to them, even if it’s a rare occurrence. I have listed them for you below with a direct link to the regulation so you can determine if it is applicable to your company.

If the hazard is relevant to your company, you must include it in your safety plan. Some regulations specify what must be included in the written plan, so it is important to read these four regulations.

Thankfully, OSHA offers sample plans for each of these hazards, which I have pulled from the rabbit hole and linked for you as well.

  1. Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Program
  2. Permit Required Confined Spaces
  3. Hazard Communication Program
  4. Respiratory Protection Program

4. Safety Procedures / Best Practices

This section is used to outline the proper, safe ways to complete common tasks.

For example, if you are a masonry contractor, moving bricks is not likely the most hazardous task you complete, so it wouldn’t be covered in the section above; however, if not done properly, over time, it could lead to back issues.

In this case, a written procedure on how to transport and carry bricks safely will protect your employees from a repetitive strain injury.
Other processes you may wish to include would be the use of hazardous machines or tools.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Once you have identified the procedures you’d like to outline, your local trade association very likely has a copy of the proper steps. Worst case, Google is your friend here.

5. Training

Your safety manual is useless unless it is put into action.
This section should outline how you are going to train all new and existing employees on your new safety program, covering each of the sections.

To do this effectively, most employers opt for a new employee onboarding program to cover all the knowledge and skills their employees require in order to work safely. Some even pair new employees with a mentor to guide them in the right direction during the first few weeks.

You should also include a list of formal training required, based on which role they have been hired into. For example, you may require all workers to take a fall protection course but only your formen to take first aid training.

Finally, you should describe how you are going to track who has taken what training and when it expires. This will ensure everyone’s certifications are completed and kept up to date (not expired).

6. Resources

The final section of your safety manual acts more like an appendix and should include any parts of the program that were not already covered. Some may include:

  • forms or inspections you use on site
  • Safety Data Sheets
  • New Employee Orientation Package
  • Manufacturer Safety Policies

If you have more than ten employees in your company, OSHA stipulates you must include An Emergency Action Plan (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.35/150) and a Fire Prevention Plan (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.24)

Basically, any document that is a part of your program gets added to the end of the manual so there is one central place for all safety related information.

What Now?

Now that you have a first draft of a formal written safety manual, I’d get a professional to review it. Here’s the great news, this doesn’t have to cost you a dime. OSHA offers a no cost, confidential Onsite Consultation Program. Here are the benefits:

  • The consultants are safety professionals from local state agencies or universities, NOT OSHA enforcement officers
  • They are local to you so can reference any state regulations
  • The consultant will NOT report any violations to OSHA
  • The consultant will review your safety manual and provide you with feedback specific to your company
  • They will visit you onsite to help you identify common hazards and provide options to control them
  • After the visit they will send you a written report with all their findings and recommendations

The only obligation you have to the consultation program is a commitment to correct serious health and safety hazards in a timely manner, which is a responsibility of yours as an employer anyhow. There really is no downside.

Like any free program, there are going to be limits to the amount of time the consultant can spend with each of their clients. By having already written out your first draft of your safety manual, you will really make the most of their time with you and get the answers you need.

Extra Helpful Tips

Once you are happy with your written safety manual, you are going to need to make it available to your entire workforce. Lots of contractors print a copy and leave it in their break room, but that doesn’t help the workers who are onsite.

A Safety Management System like Harness can help you solve this problem and many others as you work to improve the safety culture at your company. Our Learning Center is a great place to google your questions, as I’m sure they will arise during the first draft.

You are also more than welcome to reach out to us directly if you have a question that you can’t find an answer to. Feel free to email me Sue@harnessup.com or type your question into our live chat and one of our team members (potentially me) will get back to you right away.

Good luck and remember, something is better than nothing, so just get started!