If you’re in the construction business, the latest figures about workplace-related deaths in Colorado are nothing short of alarming, an urgent reminder to make sure you’re emphasizing training and safety.
While the numbers for all industries saw a slight decrease from 2016 to 2017, fatalities in the construction industry jumped by almost 60 percent.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that 77 people died from fatal work injuries in Colorado in 2017, a 5 percent drop from the 81 reported fatalities in 2016. But 19 people in the construction business died at their workplace in 2017, a 58 percent surge from the previous year.
Injuries that involved transportation were the most common cause of a work-related death, with 38 fatalities in the state in 2017, according to the figures. The second most common cause were falls, slips or trips, which accounted for 14 deaths.
So, how can you address the challenge and minimize, if not prevent, injuries on your jobsites? Setting clear expectations for safety, as obvious as it might sound, is a good place to start.
Project managers can set the tone to ensure each worker understands their personal responsibility for safety. This will help everyone work together toward the common goal of preventing injuries.
The fact is, the example you set, and the way you talk to workers about safety, has a huge impact on your company’s safety and health program, safety culture, and ability to reduce injury and illness.
Beyond that, here are four ways construction companies can reduce workplace accidents and promote construction site safety:
- Occasional, sporadic safety meetings just don’t cut it. As a project continues to progress, the hazards also change. Your project managers and team leaders need to ensure that everyone on the jobsite is kept up-to-date and on the same page. Daily safety meetings also are a good opportunity to remind employees that they need to keep their own welfare in mind. Studies show that construction workers who receive regular safety training are 12% less likely to be hurt on the job.
- Try to encourage employees to speak up when they see something going wrong. Trust and the quality of your relationship with crews heavily influence their safety and overall productivity. To make this work, make sure your workers feel comfortable asking questions and raising safety concerns without fear of retaliation or bullying. Doing this will make it easier and quicker to address issues head-on before an injury occurs.
- Invest in wearables. More than 80% of contractors who use wearable technology see instant site-safety improvements. Wearable devices like smart watches, glasses, and clothing alert managers to activities going on in the field and even improve response time when injuries occur, like the ability to detect when an employee slips, trips, and falls, triggering an automatic alert to designated site personnel, including medics.
- Unbelievably, about half of all workplace deaths from falls occur from heights of just 25 feet or lower. That’s because workers typically don’t take care unless they’re working at higher levels. Along those lines, 84% of workers with head injuries weren’t wearing one of the most essential pieces of safety equipment: a hard hat. The point? Make personal protection equipment mandatory.
Of course, these are just a few of the ways you can help keep workers safer. The construction industry remains one of the most hazardous industries in terms of serious work-related injuries, lost work time, disability, and on-the-job fatalities. But given the high cost of workplace injuries – both human and financial – investing a bit of your time, energy and money into workplace safety is sure to yield returns.
If you have questions or would like us to help you establish a better safety program for your company, just fill in the form below. We’d love to talk with you.
Scott Carlson is a Vice President at CCIG and leads the firm’s construction practice. Reach him at ScottC@thinkccig.com or 720-330-7925.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.
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