Blog
June 23, 2017

Improving the safety climate in construction

By John Crawmer, Safety Services Supervisor

New resource available from American Industrial Hygiene Association

Safety climate, also known as safety culture, is a concept that, whether you know it or not, is woven through an organization. But what is it exactly? The safety climate is the attitude of your employees toward safety, and it’s an ethical value that should be upheld by every single person — from your leaders to your apprentices.

A positive safety climate is one where employees will do the right thing or behave safely even when nobody is watching. I often say you can have all the written standards and documentation in place, but without the right safety climate, those safety rules are just paper on an office shelf.

Safety climate in construction

Since construction work is inherently hazardous, it’s especially important to promote a positive safety climate. A true safety climate for a construction company incorporates a multifaceted approach to achieve excellence; nobody gets injured on the job. We know you don’t want your workers to get injured. And we know innately that no one goes to work with the intent to get hurt on the job that day. So, why are workers still getting injured? It’s time to check in with your safety climate.

Get started with this brand-new, valuable resource from the American Industrial Hygienist Association, How to Improve the Safety Climate on Your Construction Site. This document is thorough and highlights everything you need to know to improve your safety climate. Here’s a sneak peek at the essential elements of a safety climate that you can incorporate into your safety program:

  • Worker participation.
  • The right to refuse unsafe work.
  • Close-call reporting.
  • Safety leadership by supervisors.
  • Subcontractor safety.
  • Integration of safety into operations.
  • Owner involvement.
  • Measurement of the safety climate.

Even if you aren’t able to implement all eight safety climate tools in your program, don’t worry. Try implementing just one element per quarter and see what happens. I recommend doing the survey first as a gap analysis to gather data about your safety climate and see how your company measures up. You can find a sample survey on page 47.

What do you have to lose? Your new and improved safety climate might just prevent an injury or save a life because someone naturally did the right thing — even when nobody was watching.

Visit the Knowledge center for more resources designed especially for construction.

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