Worker safety is an issue that is discussed at every job site in America. The entire workforce, from entry-level employees to the CEO, knows that keeping workers safe is in everyone’s best interest.
Talking about safety and fostering a structurally safe work environment are two different things. Having a “Safety First” mindset is important; when workers are actively thinking about doing their jobs in the safest possible way, fewer accidents are bound to happen. But do they know how to be safe? Do they know what resources their company provides?
Staying safe on the job
This is where a formal job site safety program comes in. Workers, supervisors, managers, and executives need a carefully-constructed set of resources, policies, and procedures to reference when a question arises about safety.
For the home building industry, a job site safety program should consist of not only company policy and procedures for safety, but training materials, checklists, action and contingency plans, and clear guidance on accountability.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) actively promotes a safety first mentality on home building sites through the Safety365 program. Part of that program is a model Safety & Health Program designed for small to medium-sized home builders and general contractors. It contains the materials needed to effortlessly set up a successful, company-wide safety program. It can also be customized to reflect the particular circumstances of each jobsite.
The model plan is designed to be comprehensive, and as such, it contains 18 easy-to-use sections and related forms. But that’s exactly what a job site safety program should be. Workers shouldn’t need to ask about company policy and procedures on hazardous chemical disposal, for example. They should have been trained on that and have either a hard or electronic copy (or both) of a safety program for reference.
Valuing safety education
In the home building industry, there is extra urgency to have a formal safety program because of the prevalence of subcontractors on most job sites. These workers are vital to the industry. And while many builders have trusted subs that they work with project after project, sometimes a new contractor is brought in for a particular task.
With workers on a job site that are not employees, it is vital they understand the safety culture of the builder quickly and unambiguously. Handing them a copy of a formal safety program that answers all of their questions is a good first step.
NAHB’s Safety365 initiative emphasizes the importance of job site safety every day on every site. A formal safety program is a necessary tool to ensuring the safety of every person on a build site. See all of NAHB’s safety materials, including the model safety program, at nahb.org/safety.
Greg Ugalde, Chairman, National Association of Home Builders, [email protected]