THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE GRAND VALLEY CONSTRUCTION ASSOCIATION

July - August 2024

GVCA DEPARTMENT - Safety

5 WAYS TO BUILD A STRONGER SAFETY CULTURE

Ensuring every worker safely returns home at the end of the day is constantly at the forefront of our minds and takes continued due diligence. Now is the time to access the right plan for your workforce and company to achieve maximum safety awareness, educate those results and contribute to a significant reduction in incidents, accidents and near misses.

So while there are many ways to help promote safety, this article advocates using safety events to help leverage safety and safety culture.  I’ve listed what I believe to be the Top 5 Ways to Build a stronger safety culture.

While every Day is Safety Day, Every Week is Safety Week and every Month is Safety Month the industry pulls together across North America and promotes the first week in May as Safety Week and the Month of May as Safety Month.  This allows for a number of industry wide events, education and promotion to highlight safety and safety culture.

Safety Week, an industry-wide event dedicated to the education and celebration of safety in the workplace across Canada and United States, provides a chance to examine and reinforce your company’s commitment to safety. This commitment is strongest when it’s woven into the culture of an organization and a visible part of everyday routines and processes.

This year in Ontario we also marked the 3rd annual day designated to promote safety in workplace known as Occupational Safety & Health Day on the 1st Tuesday in May.  In 2024 it falls on May 2nd so let us all utilize this day to also help promote and cross-promote safety in our workplaces.

Utilize safety events or start preparing for Safety Week 2024 (May 6-10) as an opportunity to positively reinforce the value of safety across your organization, improve its culture by following these five steps.

COMMIT TO SAFETY

Bring the commitment to safety to an individual, personal level by asking company leaders to consider these questions:

  • How engaged am I in company safety programs?
  • How can I increase my engagement levels with project teams?
  • Can I make a difference to our workers’ safety by engaging more?
  • Does our company empower me to make a difference in workplace safety?
  • How do I influence our company and my leadership?
  • How can I better protect myself and my co-workers?

After your leaders consider these questions, ask them to make a pledge to commit to something new this year that they believe will make a difference in safety performance and help provide an injury-free workplace. These should become action plans that are shared with employees and team members and feedback should be obtained.

If you are a leader in your company, then ask yourself what can I do to be a better leader? What can I do to engage all workers on our project sites and offices? How do I enable others to become leaders and adopt a stronger culture of safety?

 

VISIT PROJECT SITES & OFFICES

The commitment to safety begins at the highest levels, in an effort to showcase that safety promise, executives and management personnel should make safety-specific physical tours of each jobsite and if possible hold safety events or safety talks.

Maximize interactions with the jobsite personnel by meeting with workers and identifying daily workloads, responsibilities and concerns. Review activities being performed and the Safe Work Procedures that were established.  While on location attend safety-specific meetings and briefings, complete a jobsite safety audit/inspection, engage in safety-specific discussions with forepersons and other crew members. This is also an ideal opportunity to solicit feedback from workers on site conditions, safety protocols and company values.

  • What are we doing well?
  • What can we do better?
  • Do you feel safe on the jobsite?
  • What does safety mean to you?

 

SAFETY EVALUATION
Challenge your project teams to confidentially assess where the project measures in terms of safety performance (non-compliant, compliant, good practice, best in class, etc.).

During the evaluation, focus on safety culture, education, team member competency/training, communications (best practices, incident reviews, etc.), compliance with regulations and trade contractor performance.

If you have not done so already, utilize events such as Safety Week to put additional safety plans into motion and begin or further your efforts to work toward achieving “best in class” status. Engage trade personnel to participate in this effort as well, as they are valued partners and will carry your safety commitment with them into the future.

At the League of Champions theloc.ca we are in the 2nd year of a Construction industry Safety Culture Survey S-CAT (Safety Climate Assessment Tool) that helps you access your staff’s thoughts on your company’s safety culture and gives you feedback on a number of topics.  In addition, you get the comparison to thousands of other companies in North America and if you are a member of the League of Champions you also get additional analysis and comparison to other League of Champions members.

 

HOLD IN PERSON EVENTS AND VIRTUAL EVENTS THAT FOCUS ON SAFETY

Holding regular safety events and celebrations is important.  One such example is Safety and Health Week which is promoted by several organizations.  For example Construction Safety Week, Safety And Health Week  offer a wide range of events and activities to hold throughout safety week.  You can host a safety roadshow and invite vendors to showcase new tools and safety equipment; hold safety training sessions (hand injury prevention, fall protection, ladder safety, etc.).  Hold safety stand downs and do toolbox talks.

Safety education events are extremely productive and beneficial where Toolbox Talks, educational materials and best practices can be shared from safety leaders across North America. Remember, safety is not proprietary!

COVID 19 has taught us that we can communicate remotely and get the message across without always having to be there in person.  The use of real time video streaming, webinars and training has facilitated alternate ways to engage our workforces remotely and more frequently.

 

CONDUCT TRAINING AND REFRESHER COURSES

Review policies and procedures on individual jobsites including planning some safety activities. Here are some examples.

    • Hold emergency response drills & mock drills: Invite emergency response teams to come on site to assess emergency response protocols.
    • Perform a Safety Rollback: Include site housekeeping, cord/tool inspections, rigging inspections and proper storage, assured grounding inspections, PPE inspections, safety inspections.
    • Utilize 3rdparty safety providers to refresh safety training and to expand training
    • Educate your workers – the focus on Fit for Duty and the 4 states of Fit for Duty is always a good idea:
      1. Mental Health
      2. Physical Health
      3. Emotional Health
      4. Competency

You need all 4 to truly be fit for duty.

Safety week can be leveraged all year long into a bigger campaign. Last Year’s slogan was “Be Present. Be Focused. Be Safe” and this year was “Strong Voices. Safe Choices” both resonate with workers. Toolbox talks, educational material and best practices will be shared from safety leaders across North America.  These are both themes that can be picked up by firms throughout the year and promoted to staff, trades and clients.

Rob Ellis, President of MySafeWork often asks, “What do good companies look like? Well, they care for their staff, they care for others, are proactive about safety and lead by example.”   They raise the bar for safety. They believe in Safety Culture and the desire to improve culture at their firm and in the industry.

The main objectives for raising the bar for safety in our industry is increasing education, generating awareness, promoting positive reinforcement, evolving cultures and sharing best practices.

These objectives will support our collective efforts to ensure our workforce works safe, that our new workers are protected and everyone returns home in the same condition as when they arrived each and every day!

 

Here’s what YOU can do to raise the bar for safety:

  1. Challenge the status quo
  2. Participate and/or organize Safety events such as Safety and Health Week
  3. Take part in additional initiatives such as Safety Month (May)
  4. Join the League of Champions (ca) to use as your lever to improve safety culture at your company
  5. Volunteer to make a difference for safety in our industry
  6. Share: after all safety is not proprietary!
  7. Make it personal – use personal reasons to motivate others

Winston Churchill once said “Never let a good crisis go to waste” and we certainly had one with this Pandemic and we need to rebound on safety matters more than ever.  Something I say all the time; “Leaders Need to Lead” and unless we all step up to make a difference, people will continue to get hurt in our industry and that is unacceptable. So, ask yourself, are you a leader and are you going to take action now and implement the Top 5 Ways to Build a stronger safety culture?

 

Craig Lesurf, President of Gillam Group, Chair of the League of Champions, Chair of the OGCA Safety Committee.

THE OFFICIAL ONLINE PUBLICATION OF THE GRAND VALLEY CONSTRUCTION ASSOCIATION

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