How to Create a Culture of Safety, and Why It’s Important

Stress, low morale, and poor expectations of your employees can contribute to high turnover, more time off work due to illnesses, and accidents on the job. All of which will increase your cost of doing business.

But you can increase productivity, improve your ability to attract and retain good employees, and boost profitability through creating a company culture that embraces safety

According to the 2016 study “Building a Safety Culture SmartMarket Report,” conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics (DD&A), contractors who encouraged a culture of safety reported powerful payback in the form of project quality, staff retention, project ROI, and ability to attract new staff.

 

DD&A used 33 indicators of a safety culture. The companies surveyed were general contractors, specialty contractors, design-build firms, construction managers and engineering firms. Those who scored highest experienced the most powerful return from their investment into safety.

While not all of indicators are relevant to a smaller contractor (most companies surveyed had over 500 employees), there are some key takeaways that you can apply to your business today.

  1. Management’s commitment to safety and health. As a manager, supervisor, and/or owner you set the priorities for safety. More importantly, those priorities must be communicated to your employees through having a formal process for safety-related corrective action, being proactive through making safety/health a key part of your strategic planning, having clearly defined health and safety expectations, and making safety a frequent topic at meetings.
  2. Safety and health are company values. Employees who feel valued at work, feel safe to let management know when there is a safety violation on the job. Value and safety directly correlate to higher productivity, employee retention, and increased ROI.
  3. Accountability. Your employees will rise to the level of your expectations. Expect them to hold themselves and everyone accountable for safety and they will.

To read the full report, click here.

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New OSHA Updates Claim to Save Employers $6.1 Million

Effective July 15th, OSHA is making 14 revisions to the federal rules that affect the construction industry. These changes, according to OSHA, will save employers approximately $6.1 million by clearing up confusion regarding compliance. Specifically they have removed or revised, “outdated, duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent requirements in OSHA’s safety and health standards, which will permit better compliance by employers and reduce costs and paperwork burdens where possible, without reducing employee protections.”

OSHA is updating the method of identifying and calling emergency medical services. This update, according to the report, may increase costs to employers by approximately $32,000.

However, there are two provisions (reduction in the number of necessary employee x-rays and elimination of posting requirements for residential construction employers) which may provide estimated combined cost savings of $6.1 million annually.

According to Equipment World, some of the highlighted changes are:

  • Eliminates requirement that employers provide periodic chest X-rays to screen for lung cancer. OSHA says studies have shown X-ray screening does not reduce lung cancer incident or death.
  • Updates the requirements for providing emergency services contacts. OSHA adds a requirement that employers must ensure that their communication system can effectively contact 911 services. And if the system is in an area that does not automatically supply the caller’s location to the 911 dispatcher, the employer must post or provide in some way the worksite’s longitude and latitude to employees. OSHA estimates this requirement will cost the construction industry a total of $32,440 a year. This cost will dissipate as enhanced 911 wireless service becomes universal, OSHA says.
  • Changes the minimum breaking-strength requirement for lifelines for fall protection to 5,000 pounds instead of 5,400 pounds. This was done for consistency and to end confusion.
  • Updates standards for traffic control devices at road construction areas to comply with the 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the same as used by the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as state DOTs.
  • Eliminates the requirement that employees’ Social Security numbers be provided on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance or other records designed for OSHA to track employees for research purposes. Social Security numbers are no longer required for these OSHA standards: Respirable Crystalline Silica; Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response; Asbestos; Vinyl Chloride; Inorganic Arsenic; Lead; Chromium, Cadmium, Benzene, Coke Oven Emission, Bloodborne Pathogens, Cotton Dust; 1,2 Dibromo-3-Chloropropane; Acrylonitrile; Ethylene Oxide; Formaldehyde; Methylenedianiline; 1,3-Butadiene; and Methylene Chloride.

 

Prior to these upcoming changes, OSHA increase penalties in January, 2019. Their current maximum penalties are:

  • $13,260 per violation — serious, other-than-serious or posting violations
  • $13,260 per day — failure to abate
  • $132,598 per violation — willful or repeated violations

According to OSHA’s “Business Case for Safety and Health,” an employer can save money by adhering to the rules, doing his/her part to prevent injury, death, and illness. They can also save money by avoiding penalties and costly investigations.

Need help with safety training? Call us today!