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How to Implement an Effective Construction Disciplinary Program

As a responsible construction company, you have done all the right things; you’ve created procedures, outlined rules and taught your employees how to work safely.

Your workers know what is expected of them, and most of them are compliant, but there are a few that you know, the minute you turn your back, are breaking the rules.

You don’t want to fire them because qualified workers are rare these days, but you can’t afford to babysit them either; you have a business to run. You also can’t go on like this because you know an OSHA fine or an accident is imminent.

You may have already tried to implement some repercussions but found that enforcement was inconsistent from one supervisor to another and from site to site.

Informal programs such as these—that aren’t properly defined and documented—lead to confusion for your workers and cause more problems than they fix.

What is the Answer Then?

What you need is a fair and simple disciplinary program that gets progressively tougher and is consistently enforced. When you run a program like this, two things happen:

1. You’ll reduce the number of infractions on your sites

The instances when a worker didn’t know any better can be corrected through training. The instances of defiance should be punished with varying degrees of severity.

2. The infractions by workers against safety policy that do occur are documented

If an accident happens or an OSHA citation is received, you will have the documented paperwork to reduce the liability placed on your company.

For example, if you have written proof you wrote up Johnny three times (and even suspended him once) for not wearing his fall protection, and then he gets caught by OSHA, or worst case, he dies, you can use those documents to prove you did everything possible to protect him.

What you’ll find below is a program that will help protect you when your workers make stupid or careless mistakes.

What is a Construction Disciplinary Program Comprised of?

There are three components to a strong but fair disciplinary program:

1. A Policy

This is an overview of the whole disciplinary program that explains the reasons why it is in place, the rules you’ll enforce, and what happens if you break one.
At the end of this article, you will have an opportunity to download a workbook which includes a sample policy that you are welcome to modify for your own use.

2. The Rules

This section needs to outline what is covered under the policy. You will definitely want to include rules in regards to safety, such as wearing proper PPE and utilizing safe work procedures.

You may also want to add in performance standards, such as their level of workmanship, their attitude and their readiness to work.

Finally, you should consider including general company policies, such as unauthorized absences, cell phone usage and smoking policies.

Although we cannot create all the rules for you, we have included a list of areas to consider in the downloadable workbook at the end of this article.

3. Progressive Disciplinary Actions

This section includes the results of breaking one of the rules included in the policy. It is important that the resulting actions of an infraction progress in severity based on the seriousness of the rule and the number of occurrences.

The stages of disciplinary action usually look something like this:

  • Verbal warning
  • Written warning
  • Suspension
  • Termination

An infraction such as not wearing a hard hat would likely start at a verbal warning and move through each stage, possibly even repeating one or two stages.

However, you may decide that an infraction such as not wearing a personal fall arrest system when required will begin with a written warning or that violence in the workplace results in immediate termination.

The most important part of any of the disciplinary actions or stages (other than termination) is that it is always paired with some sort of training or counselling.

The type of training is up to you and will be dependent on the type of infraction and the reasoning for it. The point is that you need to show your company’s due diligence and not that you just handed out a slap on the wrist.

When you caught Johnny not wearing proper fall protection, if he said it was because he didn’t know he had to wear it when he was working on the porch, you may decide to send him for formal re-training on working at heights.

However, if he says he knew but was in a rush, you may choose to have a conversation with him and then sign a written warning confirming his knowledge that safety always comes before speed of production.

The final part of each disciplinary stage is always documentation. Even a verbal warning needs to be documented that it occurred.

If we don’t document, we will likely forget which worker is at which stage for which reason. Mostly though, we document because in the eyes of OSHA, the law and your insurance company, if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.

Don’t worry, in the downloadable document at the end of this article, we have included an Infraction Notice Form that you can print, photocopy and begin using to document your workers missteps.

Disciplinary Programs Sound Like a lot of Paperwork

Depending on the number of hooligans you employ, you may be right. It can also be difficult to track the level and number of occurrences for an employee if you have a large staff.

For example, our friend Johnny could fly under the radar, racking up personal fall protection infractions on multiple sites from multiple supervisors before someone in the office collects all the paperwork and realizes what is happening.

It also can be difficult to produce this paperwork in the event that something does happen. If you receive an OSHA citation because of Johnny, the work you put into tracking his infractions is worthless unless you can put your hands on the reports, and they could span over multiple years.

What’s the Solution Then?

The answer to the paperwork problem is simple – technology. A safety management system such as Harness is designed to eliminate paperwork, which in turn eliminates the bottleneck of paperwork collection and the accessibility of the paperwork once it’s filed.

When an infraction occurs for our clients, they are able to look up the employee from their mobile device, view their past offences, and hand out the correct level of discipline.

To get started with a paper program today, simply download our Disciplinary Program Workbook by clicking the button below.

If you are ready to skip right to the technology solution, book a demo and we’ll show you how Harness can make your company safer and more efficient.

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Leadership & Culture Training

Fall Protection Toolbox Talk Topics: A Complete List

OSHA statistics show an average of around five thousand U.S based work fatalities per year. To put that in perspective, that’s about 100 deaths per week, or 15 a day.

That means, approximately every hour and a half, some company out there has to call their employees’ family and explain that their loved one won’t be coming home from work that day. That is a call you never want to have to make and you definitely don’t want to receive.

OSHA also reports, the number one cause of these construction fatalities, year after year, after year, is falls. The good news is, you and your employees don’t have to be a part of those statistics.

How to Avoid Falls at Your Construction Company

First, you need to be aware that there are two categories that falls fall into. See what I did there?

1. Falls on the Same Level

These are most commonly referred to as slips and trips, which result in a fall to the ground. It could also be as simple as an employee stepping awkwardly out of their truck and falling to the ground.

Falls in this category, while potentially disabling, are not considered serious as they are not usually life-threatening.

2. Falls to a Lower Level

This category involves the more serious and more often fatal falls. It includes falling at any height to the ground or a level below where the employee originated from. This could be from a roof, scaffolding, down a stairwell, off a ladder and more.

The suggestions in the remainder of this article focus on protecting your employees from this category of falls as they are the types more likely to result in death. If your current concern is about slips and trips, your focus should be on general site housekeeping.

Specific Topics to Focus Your Fall Safety Training On

We all know that holding regular safety meetings, called Toolbox Talks, is the basis of a good safety program.

The problem for many contractors arises when you find yourself at a loss for relatable, useful topics to cover.

Below, we have sourced out some fall prevention subcategories and the topics you should focus on within them.

1. Ladder Safety

When it comes to falls, falling off a ladder tops the list as the most common. Your three areas of focus should be:

  • Proper setup of an extension ladder
  • 3 Point Contact
  • Stepladders

2. Scaffolding

Anyone assigned to set up scaffolding should have proper formal training in doing so as one mistake on their part could cost their co-workers their life. However, anyone using scaffolding should have at least a basic understanding of the following:

  • Set up of structural components
  • Set up of planks and decks
  • Fabricated Frame Scaffolds

3. Suspended Access Equipment

This subcategory includes all equipment that provides an elevated work platform, such as aerial lifts. Anyone using such equipment should have proper formal training, but a toolbox talk refresher is always a good idea:

  • Calculating counterweight
  • Tiebacks
  • Personal Fall Protection

4. Fall Protection

Some trades are at a higher risk of fall fatalities simply based on the tasks they perform and the frequency at which they are exposed to fall hazards. These trades need to put additional emphasis on fall protection through formal training. However, Toolbox Talk refreshers are also a must. Here are the topics you should be covering:

  • Basic types
  • Guardrails
  • Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • Rope Grabs
  • Warning Line Systems
  • Safety Monitoring Systems
  • Approvals and Inspections

5. Other Causes of Falls

It is incredibly rare for any construction worker in any trade, not to be exposed to a fall from heights at some point throughout their day. We strongly recommend training everyone in at least the basics:

  • Skylights and Roof Openings
  • Floor Openings (Stairwells)
  • High Winds
  • Falls from truck beds

6. Rescue Procedure

In the event that there is a fall on the job site, workers need proper training on what to do. There should always be at least one designated person with First Aid / CPR training onsite but everyone else should also understand their own responsibilities in an emergency. Here are the areas you should cover:

  • Emergency Action Plans
  • Assisted Rescue
  • Self Rescue

Access to all these toolbox talks, and more, in their account library, in one of the many benefits of being a Harness client. If you are not yet a client, you can check with your local trade association to see if they have content on the above topics available to you.

Conducting Safety Training Works

In the 70’s, the average number of deaths per day was 38. Since then, the efforts of OSHA, health and safety professionals, unions and other advocates have brought awareness to construction safety and provided ways to prevent accidents through training.

This has resulted in a significant drop to 15 deaths a day, and proves that training works. The most important contributors to this improvement are the employers who make safety a priority on a daily basis.

Even still, 15 deaths a day that could have been prevented, is 15 too many. In order to get this number down, every single employer must be committed to the health and safety of their workers.

Make the Commitment to Safety

The mere fact that you are reading this article, proves that you are on track to make a difference at your own company. The most successful safety programs are run by companies who create a positive culture or worker safety.

To find out how they do that you need to read:

Top 5 Ways to Foster a Safety Culture in You Construction Business

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News Reaction Safety News

Roofing Company Cited $70k in OSHA Fines: Lessons Learned

On December 16, 2021, Double M Roofing & Construction had a crew of four employees replacing a roof on a townhouse in Berea, Ohio, when one of them fell 20 feet to the ground. The employee who fell was a 14-year-old boy, and he suffered critical injuries.

The owner of the company, Melvin Schmucker, who was onsite, and the two other employees, proceeded to retrieve and put on personal fall protection equipment that was in their trailer at the job site.

It is assumed that this act was an attempt to hide the company’s safety failures as there was no required report of the injury made to OSHA.

A nearby security camera captured the evidence OSHA needed of the boy and the other employees working without fall protection equipment. This evidence was submitted to local police, who passed it along to OSHA.

Approximately two weeks later, OSHA inspectors caught up with the company on a different jobsite where workers were once again working at heights of more than 22 feet, without the necessary fall protection equipment.

OSHA has just recently issued citations to the company for two willful, three serious, and one other-than-serious violations of OSHA’s safety standards, totaling more than $70k.

What Fines Did OSHA Issue?

There were a total of 6 citations issued between the two job sites. We outline them in layman’s terms below and also link to the referenced OSHA regulation which was broken.

Citation 1 & 2

Regulation 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2) was broken when the company failed to instruct their employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions on their work site, in this case, a fall from heights.

OSHA designated the citation as “Serious” and assigned a fine of $4,096.00.

The second citation for this same regulation occurred on a jobsite two weeks later. OSHA assigned a fine of $30,037 to the second citation.

The difference between the two citations was that OSHA designated the second as “Willful – Serious”

Citation 3 & 4

Regulation 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) was broken when the company failed to ensure it’s employees were properly protected from the fall from heights hazard by either guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems.

OSHA designated the citation as “Serious” and assigned a fine of $4,096.00.

The second citation for this same regulation occurred on a jobsite two weeks later. OSHA assigned a fine of $30,037 to the second citation.

The difference between the two citations was that OSHA designated the second as “Willful – Serious”

Citation 5

Regulation 29 CFR 1904.39(a)(2) was broken when the company failed to report the in-patient hospitalization resulting from a workplace incident to OSHA within the required 24 hours, or in this case, at all.

OSHA designated the citation as “Other-Than-Serious” and assigned a fine of $2,926.

Citation 6

Regulation 29 CFR 1926.102(a)(1) was broken when the employees were not wearing safety glasses when using air powered nail guns.

OSHA designated the citation as “Serious” and assigned a fine of $2,341.

The Fallout

The fact that the injured employee was only 14 years old was not referenced in the citation. The Fair Labor Standards Act sets 14 as the minimum age of employment and limits the number of hours worked for those under 16. It also prohibits their employment in work declared as hazardous, but leaves the term open to interpretation.

When asked to comment, the OSHA Cleveland area director Howard Eberts said the Department of Labor’s child labor laws do not permit “a 14-year-old to work construction work at heights; the boy should not have been allowed to work on the roof.”

The company has fifteen days from the date of issuance to either pay the fines and provide corrective actions for each citation or, formally notify the board of their intent to contest.

What Can We Learn From These Mistakes?

There is a ton we can learn from the many many mistakes clearly made by Double M Roofing, but the three we should focus on are:

  1. Public Fall Out
  2. The names of company’s receiving OSHA citations are made publicly available. This means your community, insurance company, employees, competitors and potential future clients have full access to all the information.

    In addition to the fines handed out by OSHA, there is a huge potential for additional financial loss, through insurance rate increases, drops in revenue, employee turnover and damage to your reputation.

  3. What ‘Willful” Means
  4. In this case, the difference between a “Serious” and a “Willful – Serious” citation was $25k. As outlined in Section 17 of the act, OSHA increases the amount of the fine if the citation is repeated or they determine it was knowingly committed.

    The max fine for a serious citation is $13,653 while a willful or repeated citation max is $136,532.

    Obviously, the goal is to not break regulations to begin with, but if you do and are caught, there are no second chances.

  5. Instruct vs Ensure
  6. OSHA makes a distinction between instructing your employees in regards to hazards and ensuring they are following your instructions; So much so, that you can be cited and fined in both ways for the same infraction.

    “All too often, OSHA inspectors responding to reports of roofers without fall protection find the employer has the safety equipment on-site and refuses to ensure its use,” explains Eberts. “Exposure to fall hazards makes roofing work among the most dangerous jobs in construction. OSHA requires fall protection when working at heights greater than 6 feet.”

    In short, they require you to properly train workers and follow up to make sure they are using their training.

How Harness Can Help Avoid These Citations

We don’t know what kind of Safety Program Double M Roofing has, if they have one at all. If they do have documentation of Fall Protection training they provided their workers, they would be able to formally contest citations 1 and 2 and use their training documents as evidence.

Furthermore, if they possessed records of site inspections where a supervisor notes the workers wearing proper personal fall protection, they could attempt to contest citations 3 and 4.

If they could even come up with paperwork documenting disciplinary actions taken against their own employees for failing to adhere to company fall protection regulations, it would give them a stronger argument that they are doing their due diligence.

This is where a Safety Management System such as Harness can benefit companies: by creating, storing and making readily available the necessary documentation to challenge citations and even by preventing these infractions from happening to begin with.

We work with companies who require our help to start their safety programs, those with well established programs already in place and all levels of companies in between.

To find out more about what you can do to improve your safety program, click on the article below that best describes your current program, or lack thereof.

5 Easy Tasks to Start Your Construction Safety Program

5 Simple Tasks to Improve Your Existing Construction Safety Program

5 Key Tasks to Make Your Construction Safety Program Amazing

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How to... Safety News

Top 5 Costly Construction Injuries & How to Mitigate Them

Having a fatal accident on your job site is obviously the most tragic situation and the most costly to the employer. However, workplace injuries which cause an employee to miss more than five days of work, while less physically serious, can also come with a costly burden on the employer.

In fact, disabling injuries cost U.S businesses more than $59 Billion per year. This is determined by combining medical and lost-wage expenses, not even taking into account potential fines and insurance increases.

When I was working for a small residential roofing company, one of our Foremen slipped on a small patch of ice while getting out of his truck at the shop and damaged his achilles tendon.

He required months of physical therapy and was told, until he recovered, he could not walk on sloped surfaces. That’s kind of an issue when you shingle roofs for a living.

As the employer, we were required to offer him modified work at his normal rate of pay. Ever paid someone $35 an hour to sweep your shop? All day? For almost a year?

Top Non-Fatal Construction Injuries

Luckily for you, Liberty Mutual Insurance has put together the most costly, non-fatal injuries in the construction industry, and we have summarized them below:


Rank Injury Cost in Billions Percent of Total
1 Falls to Lower Level $2.5 24.1%
2 Struck by Object or Equipment $1.7 16.7%
3 Overexertion Involving Outside Sources $1.48 14.2%
4 Falls on Same Level $1.36 13.1%
5 Pedestrian Vehicular Incidents $0.79 7.63%

How to Prevent The Most Costly Injuries at Your Company

Understanding these risks is only the first step to preventing them on your job sites. You also need to train your employees on how to protect themselves from these hazards.

The best way to do that is by conducting Toolbox Talks on topics which relate to each hazard. We have recommended a few from the Harness library for each injury type below.


Injury Toolbox Topics
Falls to Lower Level Fall Protection Systems

Ladder Set Up & Use

Scaffolding Components

Floor Openings

Struck by Object or Equipment Transporting Hand Tools

Trash Disposal

Compressor Tools

Flying Forms

Overexertion Involving Outside Sources Material Handling

Proper Lifting

Ergonomics

Working on Knees

Falls on Same Level Wet & Icy Surfaces

Tripping Hazards

Unloading Material

Housekeeping

Pedestrian Vehicular Incidents Distracted Driving

Vehicle Hand Signals

Public Traffic Control

Backing Vehicles


Our clients have access to each of these talks in their account, but you can also reach out to your local trade association or even Google them.

Finally, you should make sure your employees are listening and engaged during training so that the information is retained.

Hopefully, by being better prepared for these workplace hazards, you won’t end up with the most expensive shop hand ever.

To read more about how Harness makes conducting Toolbox Talks easy, click the button below.

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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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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!

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Best In Class

5 Key Tasks to Make Your Construction Safety Program Amazing

Warning: If you are not currently operating a successful safety program at your construction company, you are NOT ready for the tasks described below.

These suggested tasks make the assumption that you are already conducting Toolbox Talks, JHA’s, Site Inspections, tracking Training and Incident Reports. If you are only doing a few of these tasks, you should read my article 5 Simple Tasks to Improve your Safety Program instead.

Otherwise, it sounds like you are ready to take your safety program to the highest level, and I couldn’t be more excited for you. Maybe you are the next generation, taking over the family business and you need to make your mark, or you are looking to really wow your boss this year and nail that promotion.

Whatever your motivation is, here are 5 ways you can join the best in the business as safety rock stars:

1. Create Site Specific Safety Plans

You probably already have a written safety program that covers safety on all your projects from start to finish. A site specific safety plan takes what you are already using and adds more specific safety measures to it.

You should create one for all major jobs that your crews will be on for an extended period of time and for jobs with unusual hazards your workers are not accustomed to.

In addition to standard project information, the plan should include:

  • Location of the nearest hospital
  • Emergency contacts
  • Name of competently trained person on site
  • Hazards specific to the site
  • Specific instructions on how to control each hazard
  • A list of safety equipment required
  • Pictures (general site and specific hazards)

In advance of the project starting, share the plan with the key workers onsite so they can put some forethought into it and collect the equipment they will need. On day one of the project, meet with all workers onsite to review the plan and do a physical walkthrough. Taking the time to complete these steps will significantly reduce the chance of an incident onsite.

2. Track Near Misses

A near miss is anytime something happens on site that comes very close to causing harm to someone or would have come close if someone was in the vicinity. Here are some examples of near misses:

  • Someone trips on an extension cord but does not harm themselves
  • A forklift bumps a skid of material, it teeters but does not fall
  • A worker drops a hammer down the stairs but nobody was near

The only difference between these near misses and an incident is luck. Had someone been injured, it would have triggered an investigation into what went wrong and a plan to prevent the incident in the future.

Instead, if you record and investigate near misses the same way you would an incident, you are likely to prevent the incident from happening at all. It’s the same amount of work, just in a proactive manner instead of retroactive.

3. Analyze Safety Findings

If your safety program is fairly advanced, it likely produces a ton of paperwork. That paperwork is likely collected and filed away somewhere, never to be seen again.

This is unfortunate because the information contained in those reports could be the key to safer job sites. If you record the data from these reports into a spreadsheet (or better yet, use a safety management program to do that for you) you are then able to analyze it.

For example, by grouping and categorizing the safety deficiencies found on your site inspections, you’ll be able to find patterns and trends, and then apply changes to mitigate them. You’ll figure out if they are caused by specific workers, on certain projects, at certain times or whether other factors contribute to them.

Using the information you are already collecting, instead of filing it away, can be one of your biggest assets.

4. Conduct Annual Reviews

At least once a year, look up everything to do with safety for each of your employees, on an individual basis and then review it with them. Some items to include are:

  • Compliance with your program (Are they doing what they are supposed to?)
  • Training Certificates (Are any coming up for renewal? New courses to take?)
  • Incidents (Were they involved in any?)
  • Infractions (Were they written up at all?)
  • Attitude (Do they contribute to a safe company culture?)
  • Goals for the next year (What can they work on?)

Some companies go even further to make their reviews live by posting a leaderboard in their shop. A little friendly competition among co-workers doesn’t hurt.

Once you know who your safety rock stars are you can reward them and provide additional training to the ones who need help.

5. Continue Learning

The construction industry is always changing, and safety changes along with it. It’s important to stay on top of new regulations, new innovations and new ideas.

At the same time, there is a lot of information out there which can feel overwhelming. We suggest finding a few trusted sources of information and keep up with them.

Here are a few different options:

  • Sign up for a newsletter from a local and national trade association
  • Bookmark a few reliable construction news websites such as Construction Dive or Occupational Health & Safety
  • Find accounts with knowledgeable and free blogs and follow them on social media so you know when new blogs are posted. Ours are: Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn

In short, the more you know, the better so never stop learning!

You Are Not Alone

What we have just laid out for you would be virtually impossible without help. It’s likely your company has someone on the team dedicated to safety but even they are going to need help or they will spend most of their time hovered over spreadsheets and filing paperwork.

If you want to advance to the highest level of safety compliance, you must utilize technology. Using a safety management system is imperative to collecting complete, accurate information in a timely manner. That way, your safety rep has more time to be onsite, where they should be, inspecting, teaching and making proactive decisions.

There are a number of construction safety management apps on the market, and lucky for you, we’ve summarized them and provided direct links in a super convenient blog post, The 6 Best Construction Safety Apps – Ditch Paperwork Forever.

We’ve also written an article on How Much the Harness Safety App Costs, so there are no surprises when you are ready to book a demo to see Harness in action.

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How to... Safety News

Covid-19 Workplace Prevention Program: 11 Key Elements

Responding to President Joe Biden’s executive order on worker health and safety, on January 29 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued stronger guidance on identifying coronavirus exposure risks and implementing a COVID-19 Prevention Program at work. Having a program can help protect your employees from contracting the virus and keep your workforce doing what they are supposed to do, work.

Some jurisdictions, including the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board have already gone a step further and made a preventions program mandatory. Every business located or operating in California with more than one employee who are not working remotely must have a written Covid-19 Prevention Program in place.

The California guidelines, published weeks ago, can help you develop a program of your own now. We have pulled out what is relevant to contractors and summarized it below, so you don’t have to read the entire 23-page order.

You have our full permission to copy and paste this information into your own document and begin the process of customizing it to your business. You can thank us (and the State of California) by sharing this on your social media accounts; the more businesses who help prevent the spred, the better. We really are all in this together.

Covid-19 Workplace Prevention Program Overview

All employers should establish, implement, and maintain an effective, written COVID-19 Prevention Program. The written elements of the program should include:

1. System for Communicating

  • outline the process for an employee to report symptoms, exposures and hazards at the workplace
  • describe how you will accommodate employees with an increased risk of severe Covid-19 illness provide information about access to Covid-19 testing in your area
  • make a commitment to communicate information about Covid-19 hazards, policies and procedures to your employees, and any other person in contact with the workplace (which includes job sites)

2. Identification, Evaluation and Correction or Reduction of COVID-19 Hazards

  • Develop and implement a process for screening employees prior to work. This may include a written self-evaluation or temperature checks using non-contact thermometers
  • Conduct a workplace-specific identification of interactions, areas, activities, processes, equipment and materials that could potentially expose employees to Covid-19 and treat all persons in these situations, regardless of symptoms, as potentially infectious
  • For indoor locations, maximize the quantity of outdoor air and increase filtration to the highest level with existing ventilation systems
  • Periodically review and inspect local health department and industry-specific guidelines and your existing procedures
  • For every hazard identified above, the company shall implement effective policies and or procedures for correcting or reducing these unhealthy conditions

3. Training and Instruction

  • The employer must train and educate the employees about Covid-19, how it is spread, the symptoms, and methods to prevent its transmission
  • Training sessions should be documented as to who attended

4. Physical Distancing

  • All employees shall be separated from other people by at least six feet, except where you can demonstrate that six feet is not possible or momentary exposure while persons are in movement
  • When not possible, they need to remain as far apart as possible

5. Face Coverings

  • Employers shall provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by employees when indoors or when outdoors and less than six feet from another person
  • Exceptions include: when an employee is alone in a room, eating or drinking as long as they are 6 feet apart, if they are wearing other safety respirators already or if medical or mental health conditions restrict their use
  • If a specific task cannot feasibly be performed with a face covering, the person is exempt but limited to the period in which the task is being performed, and the person is either 6 feet away from others or tested for Covid-19 twice a week
  • Employers cannot prevent an employee from wearing a mask when they are not required to, unless it renders their task unsafe

6. Other Controls and Personal Protective Equipment

  • In fixed work locations where physical distancing is not possible, the employer shall install cleanable solid partitions to reduce aerosol transmission
  • Employers shall clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects and notify employees of the procedure and frequency
  • Prohibit sharing of PPE and other close contact items when feasible, such as tools, keyboards, pens, phones etc.
  • Complete cleaning and disinfecting of areas, materials and equipment a positive case has come in contact with
  • Employers to provide appropriate hand washing facilities and hand sanitizer and encourage employees to wash regularly
  • Employers evaluate the need and shall provide appropriate personal protective equipment not limited to, gloves, goggles and face shields

7. Employer Provided Transportation

  • Whenever possible, put employees from the same household together, and if not, then from the same crew
  • The operator and passengers are separated by at least three feet in all directions, regardless of vehicle capacity
  • Everyone in the vehicle is wearing a mask
  • Conduct daily screening questionnaires and exclude drivers and riders with symptoms, prior to boarding
  • All high contact surfaces (handles, seatbelts, armrests etc) are disinfected before each trip
  • High contact points for drivers (wheel, shifter etc) are disinfected between drivers
  • Windows are kept open when the weather conditions range between 60 and 90 degrees. When above or below that the heat or AC may be on as long as it is set to maximize outdoor air and not recirculate. Windows can also be closed during rain or snow, having the ventilation system running is still recommended
  • Employers shall provide hand sanitizer in each vehicle and ensure riders and drivers use it before and after each ride

8. Investigating and Responding to COVID-19 Cases

  • Determine day and time the case was last present and if possible the day and time they first experienced symptoms
  • Determine who may have had exposure to the case
  • Give notice to everyone who was exposed within 1 business day and send them home
  • Offer Covid-19 testing at no cost and during working hours to all employees with exposure
  • Investigate whether any workplace conditions could have contributed to exposure and what can be done to reduce or eliminate that hazard
  • Keep all personal information of cases and medical information confidential

9. Exclusion of Covid-19 Cases

  • All positive cases must be excluded from the workplace until the criteria in section 10 is met
  • Employees with exposure to a positive case must be excluded from the workplace for 14 days from the date of the exposure
  • Employees excluded from work due to positive test results or exposure and otherwise able and available to work shall maintain their earnings, seniority and all other rights and benefits as if they had not been removed from their job. Employers may use provided sick leave benefits for this purpose. This does not apply if the employer can demonstrate that the exposure is not work related
  • These regulations do not limit any other law, policy or collective bargaining agreement that provide greater protection

10. Return to Work Criteria

  • Cases with symptoms shall not return to work until:

1. At least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4 or higher has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications; and

2. Other COVID-19 symptoms have improved; and

3. At least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared

  • COVID-19 cases who tested positive but never developed COVID-19 symptoms shall not return to work until a minimum of 10 days have passed since the date of specimen collection of their first positive COVID-19 test
  • A negative COVID-19 test shall not be required for an employee to return to work
  • If an order to isolate or quarantine an employee is issued by a local or state health official, the employee shall not return to work until the period of isolation or quarantine is completed or the order is lifted

11. Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Access

  • Employers must report information about Covid-19 cases and deaths at the workplace to their local health department when required to by law
  • Employer shall maintain written records of their Covid-19 Prevention Program, and the steps taken to implement it and make it available to their employees
  • Record and Track all Covid-19 cases with names, contact info, occupation, location worked, date of last day worked, date of positive test and keep it confidential

How Harness Can Help

Harness can help make navigating the Covid-19 pandemic easier. Our platform has multiple ways to document, train, and track all the requirements mentioned above. Here are some of the ways our current clients are utilizing Harness in addition to their regular safety program:

  • Having each employee fill out a symptom self assessment on their own phone, prior to starting work each morning
  • Storing their Prevention Program so it is available to all their workers on all device types
  • Using our custom Covid-19 Toolbox Talks to train their workers on Covid-19 and document their attendance at the meeting
  • Recording information about positive cases and exposures
  • Documenting cleaning and disinfection schedules
  • Conducting inspections for potential Covid-19 Hazards and tracking how they are corrected

If you have a unique or industry specific Covid-19 concern, we are able to work with you to design a custom solution. If you have any questions or would like to talk more about how Harness can help you through these tough times, please book an appointment to speak with us.

Otherwise, feel free to check out these additional resources.

Top 5 Ways To Foster A Safety Culture In Your Construction Business
Best Construction Safety Apps
What Does Harness Software Cost?

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How to...

How to Easily Conduct A Construction Safety Inspection in 10 Steps

Conducting an onsite safety inspection is an integral part of a quality safety program, but if you don’t have a background in safety, it’s hard to know what to even look at, let alone what is considered unsafe.

Your trade also factors into the equation as there are likely hazards that are specific to the tasks your workers complete. A welder is going to face very different hazards than a carpenter.

At Harness, we work with hundreds of contractors, spanning a wide variety of trades. Having designed their electronic inspection forms for them means we have seen thousands of inspection points.

On a large scale the number of items to inspect is pretty overwhelming; however, there are some general areas that show up on every form. Below, we have captured the most common ones so you can begin with them and add in more specific inspection points as you gain experience.

10 Areas You Should Inspect While Onsite

1. Emergency Planning

If there were to be an incident on your job site, are you prepared? Some items to consider are:

  • having a fully stocked first aid kit
  • someone trained in first aid on site
  • a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby
  • an emergency escape route
  • a designated meeting spot

Some states and local municipalities also require you to have certain signage posted on site. This includes posters such as overhead work and emergency contacts.

You should also check with the general contractor as they may want you to produce information such as a written Safety Manual. Making sure these items are available to your workers and that they know where to find them will ensure incidents are dealt with properly if one does occur.

2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

You need to make sure all of your workers have access to and are wearing personal protective equipment specific to the task they are working on.

This is going to differ significantly depending on your trade but should include, at a minimum, protection for:

  • Hands
  • Eyes
  • Hearing
  • Respiratory
  • Feet
  • and proper clothing on the body

3. Material

It is important to consider what materials you are working with and how they impact the safety of your workers.

OSHA requires you to have a Safety Data Sheet available for every material your workers come in contact with. This is especially important when working with hazardous chemicals.

How material is stacked and stored should be checked as well. Items that could fall over easily shouldn’t be stacked high, some combustible materials need to be stored in cages and nothing should be near building perimeters.

Finally, you need to look at how material is being moved around the jobsite. Workers should be using aids such as wheelbarrows whenever possible and proper lifting techniques when not.

4. Housekeeping

A clean job site is not only safer because there is less of a chance your workers will trip, but it also makes it easier to spot hazards.

Check all aisles, passageways, stairs and landings to make sure there is adequate space to move about safely.

Work areas should be cleared of debris at multiple points throughout the day.

5. Access and Egress

Inspect how your workers are getting in and out of the site, especially if they are required to climb ladders, or stairs.

Stairs should have proper rails and landings and all openings should be protected and clearly marked.

Ladders need to be in safe working condition, set up properly and used correctly.

6. Hand, Pneumatic and Power Tools

Tools need to be inspected to make sure they are in good working condition and that their safety features such as guards are in place.

You should also try and see your workers using the tools to ensure they are complying to proper and safe techniques.

Additional PPE is often required when using specific tools so also take a look at what they are wearing.

7. Electrical

Electricity is a hazard on every job site, for every worker and so it should be included in your inspection.

Electricians, however, need a much more detailed level of inspection when it comes to hazards, which is why this item is also included as a trade specific hazard below.

A general inspection of electrical hazards should include making sure all extension cords and tools are protected by a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), that cords are not frayed or spliced and that electrical equipment is away from groundwater.

Also take note of any overhead wires and make sure workers and equipment are staying well clear of them.

8. Large Machines

Most job sites are not complete without at least one large machine, often many.

These machines are usually used to lift and transport materials or dirt and sometimes to even complete work out of. This includes aerial lifts, forklifts, cranes, backhoes, etc.

Each of these machines needs to be operated by someone who is certified to do so and who conducts a seperate daily inspection on every machine they operate.

9. Other Factors

You can do everything right and then something unexpected happens and suddenly your job site is no longer safe.

If you work primarily outdoors, the weather can have an effect on your safety. You need to consider and check that workers have taken precautions against the elements, including extreme hot and cold, rain, wind, ice, snow and hail.

You should also consider other trades that may be onsite and may create hazards for your workers, simply by doing their job, especially if they are working in close proximity.

Finally, traffic and the general public can cause hazards to your workers and also need to be protected. Taking a few measures to look at the bigger picture is only going to protect your workers more.

10. Trade Specific Hazards

There is no possible way for us to capture every single potential hazard on a job site.

Please take time to write down common hazards specific to your trade.

This may include but isn’t limited to:

  • falls from heights / fall protection
  • compressed air or gas
  • confined spaces
  • electricity
  • open flame
  • Scaffolding
  • Silica protection

One of the best ways to gather a realistic view of what goes on at your job sites is to show up, especially unexpectedly.

If you conduct and document a safety inspection while you are there, you may be able to find and correct hazards before they turn into an incident and can even protect your company from potential citations if an incident occurs.

Next Level Stuff

If you skip the paper inspection and move right to doing your inspections in a safety management system like Harness, it is the same amount of work (actually even less) and provides more benefits to your company.

Harness collects all the data from your inspections in real time and allows you to analyze and graph the results. You can easily see where your crews are struggling to comply and where they are succeeding.

You can also review the results by employee so you know who needs more training and who deserves a raise (or at least a high five).

If you want to see some of the cool analytics Harness provides, you can book a demo.

If you want to start on paper first, we have taken all the information above (and more) and put it into a checklist format that you can print and start using today. Download this free resource below.

Otherwise, you may find these articles helpful:

5 Simple Tasks to Improve Your Construction Safety Program
How Much Does the Harness Safety App Cost
What is a Job Site Hazard Assessment (Definition and Usage)

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Best In Class

5 Simple Tasks to Improve Your Construction Safety Program

I am willing to bet that you own or work for an established construction company that already has a basic safety program in place. If I am wrong then you should definitely email me (sue@harnessup.com) and I will pay out that bet to a charity of your choice. Then, you should switch over to my other article: 5 Easy Tasks to Start Your Construction Safety Program, and come back here when I’m not going to lose that bet again.

The reason you are still reading must be because you know your safety program can and should be better, you just don’t know how to achieve that. Don’t worry, I’m here to help you take it to the next level.

Here are 5 tasks that will improve your existing safety program:

1. Conduct Job Site Hazard Assessments

A Job Site Hazard Assessment (or JHA) is essentially a safety plan conducted by the foreman on site before work begins. It asks them to record the tasks they will work on that day and then generate a list of potential hazards that may arise from those tasks. Once they know what the hazards are, the final step is to design and implement a plan to eliminate, contain or reduce each hazard.

Having your foreman complete a JHA every morning puts safety front of mind on site and gives them practical ways to keep themselves safe. Additionally, it reduces your company’s liability in the event an incident were to occur.

This is especially true if a worker is negligent in using the safety measures from the JHA because you will have written proof of what they were advised to do. This ten-minute daily exercise can literally save lives and lawsuits.

2. Host Safety Meetings with the Whole Team

Ideally, your foreman should already be conducting a weekly Toolbox Talk with their crew on site in small groups. The next logical step is to run a similar meeting on a larger scale which delves deeper into a safety topic or issue and includes your entire workforce on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Select a topic for the theme of the meeting that is relevant to your trade, starting with the more common hazards. For example, a roofing company may start with ladder safety and personal fall arrest systems, whereas an electrical company would begin with something such as lock out / tag out.

You may also consider tackling topics that are trending in your documented infraction notices. If your team seems to be forgetting to wear safety glasses, you could focus on hazards related to eye and face protection.

If you have a dedicated safety person, they should be the ones running the meeting, and if not, it should be a person as high up as possible. In fact, all members of the management team should participate when possible, and at a minimum, be in attendance. The more your workforce sees your commitment to safety, the stronger your safety culture becomes.

To keep things fresh and interesting, consider inviting a guest speaker. This could be a safety expert from the community, someone who has experienced a workplace incident or an expert such as an ER doctor to talk about head trauma. I once attended a meeting with a police officer as a guest speaker about defensive driving techniques. The workers were hesitant at first, but were asking him tons of really good questions by the end.

These safety meetings are also an excellent opportunity to publicly praise or even hand out prizes to your safety leaders for that month.

3. Provide and Track Training

The best place to start your training program is by figuring out which training you should be providing and tracking. This will be different depending on your trade. Take a look at all the hazards your crews are recording on their JHA’s (outlined above in point 1) and use that to generate an exhaustive list of potential hazards.

Then go through the list and highlight the ones that are:

  • Most likely to occur based on how often the exposure occurs (ie painters exposure to chemicals)
  • Are most likely to result in serious injury or death if they do occur (ie silicosis for masons)
  • Both (ie fall from heights for roofers)

The highlighted list of hazards are where you should be providing training, with your focus being on any in the third category. The rest of your hazards can be covered during Toolbox Talks and Safety Meetings for now.

If you are a Canadian contractor, the IHSA provides a Training Requirements Chart as to what you are legally required to do, but the activity outlined above still doesn’t hurt.

If you are American, OSHA provides a basic training program called OSHA10, which is a good idea to have your workers complete but does not cover the hazards specific to your trade. The states of Nevada, Missouri, New York and Connecticut have actually made OSHA10 mandatory for all construction workers.

Now that you know what you need to cover, you can schedule your training. You do not need to teach this training yourself. We highly recommend hiring a safety professional to provide it for you. Most will join you at your office or shop and train your staff all together.

Once complete, the last step is to record who took the training, when and the date it expires. Tracking this information means you can stay on top of training before it expires and can provide it to authorities in the event of an incident or a site inspection.

4. Inspect all equipment

Conducting both formal and informal inspections of your equipment will reduce the likelihood of an incident and also save your company time and money. A malfunctioning piece of equipment can very easily slow down or halt production on your job site and cause injury to your workers. An issue that is caught and resolved during an inspection can save you the costs of replacement and lost time and maybe even the life of your employee.

An informal inspection is completed by the person who is about to use the equipment. It is in their best interest that the inspection is completed as it will most likely be them that is affected if an incident were to occur. This inspection is done to ensure all the parts of the equipment are accounted for and functioning properly. It does not need to be documented unless an issue is found.

A formal inspection is conducted in addition to the informal ones, usually by a supervisor or safety personnel. The date, serial number and results of the inspection are recorded, regardless of whether the item passes or fails. Some companies mark their equipment with a name (ie Cordless Drill 15) to make tracking easier.

The management team can then make sure every piece of equipment is inspected on a regular basis. Striving to have each item inspected once a month (at a minimum quarterly) is a pretty reasonable goal or expectation.

The types of equipment that should be included in these inspections are:

  • Safety equipment (i.e. personal fall protection systems, fire extinguishers, first aid kits)
  • Power, Pneumatic and Hand Tools (i.e. drills, saws, hammers)
  • Non mechanical equipment (i.e. ladders, scaffolding, wheelbarrows)
  • Mechanical equipment (i.e. compressors, generators, rock vacs)
  • Machines (i.e. forklifts, cranes, aerial lifts, skid steers)
  • Vehicles (including trailers)

5. Conduct Job Site Inspections

Most likely, you already have a supervisor who manages multiple job sites. They are probably already visiting the site to check up on the crews and track production. There is no reason why they can’t do a Site Safety Inspection while they are there.

They should be looking for worker compliance to safety protocols, such as proper personal protective equipment, safe use of equipment and proper material handling. You can generate a list of areas that they should focus on by revisiting the list you created when setting up your training program, outlined above in point 3.

This is a great time for the supervisor to review the JHA that was completed by the crew at the start of the day and make workers aware of any unexpected or unusual hazards that weren’t noted. It is also an excellent opportunity for on site teaching and to make suggestions on safer ways to work.

These inspections should be recorded and handed in to the management team for review, even when there are not any issues noted. The data collected in these reports is going to be invaluable when management decides they want to analyze and track anything safety related.

This All Feels Like a Lot of Work

I know, and I get it. In all likelihood, you are ‘in charge’ of safety but that isn’t all you are in charge of. When I was working at a construction company, my primary responsibility was running the service department, and for some reason safety was thrown in my lap and I’m not even sure why; it’s possible ‘Service’ and ‘Safety’ just sounded good together.

I didn’t have a safety background or the time to manage such an important duty. The key to my survival was delegation. Everything listed above does not (and in fact should not) fall on you. The foreperson of each crew should be conducting the JHA’s and their supervisors should be doing the site inspections. Equipment inspections need to be everyone’s responsibility but the formal ones can also be assigned to supervisors or even a back shop manager. You may need to set up the training program but once established, pass on the tracking and scheduling of training to someone on your Admin team.

Safety meetings are likely the only task listed that you need to take full ownership of. Other than that, someone needs to collect and track the paperwork that is about to be generated. This is the area that I had the most difficulty with and is why I turned to technology to help.

How Harness Can Save You From Drowning in Paperwork

Harness Safety Software is an App that completely eliminates paper from the safety process. Inspections that are conducted on site are done on the forepersons phone or tablet and immediately stored and available to office personnel. It comes complete with the following modules to make setting up and managing your safety program easy:

  • Forms / Inspections
  • Equipment Tracking
  • Lessons / Learning Guides
  • Training Management
  • Document Storage including all your manuals and safety data sheets

Best of all, Harness comes complete with a dedicated customer success manager who is personally available to help you set everything up and to train you on how to use it. Basically you get access to me as much as you need!

If you want to see Harness in action, click here to book a demo. Otherwise you’ll probably find these articles helpful:

What is a JHA? (Definition and Usage)
The 6 Best Construction Safety Apps – Ditch Paperwork Forever
How Much Does the Harness Safety App Cost?