Among the indicators of quality in the construction industry and among its leading best practices is the presence of and consistent adherence to a strong safety program. Understanding that hazards exist everywhere, on and off the job, it is a responsibility of everyone in the organization to sustain a culture of safety competence, going beyond mere compliance with corporate rules, policies and supervisory controls. True competence involves internalizing and embodying complete command of a given set of skills and best practices. The watchword for safety competence is care: for one’s self and everyone around us—co-workers, partners and customer personnel. In this culture, the strength of safety involves:
- Maintaining a safety-mindset for everyone in the company, from the CEO down to the youngest apprentice. This means zero tolerance of risk-inducing behaviors, hazards and other conditions that could affect the health and safety of ourselves and employees; both on and off the job. Contractors who regard safety as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) bring safety into the culture of the company.
- Being proactive. This means that demanding that each member of the team is alert to and is responsible for the safety of everyone immediately around them. This goes beyond awareness of hazards and includes empowering all to take action to eliminate them. Ultimately, this can mean that any worker can call for a work stoppage if they perceive that conditions have created or might result in risks to the safety or health of anyone in that environment.
- Encouraging behaviors that see the environment clearly—including the people working in it—to identify hazards and avoid risks amid the continuous changes that naturally happen as work progresses on the job site.
- Understanding that safety fosters trust between workers and their supervisory leadership, trust that in the end can yield significant improvements in collaboration, efficiency, customer value and even ultimately financial performance.
It should be no surprise that an effective safety program creates assurance and peace of mind for every member of the construction team, as well as everyone involved with construction projects including partners and customer personnel. The long-term outcome of pursuing safety as a powerful best practice is that it becomes the hallmark of the well-run enterprise whose characteristics should also include enhanced morale and successful financial performance, as well as a reputation for consistency and quality, and genuine care for employees.
It’s also well to remember that the ultimate goal of following safe construction practices is for everyone in the organization to get home safely every day without injury or work induced illness and to feel valued for their contribution and that they cared for as a person.