Safety meetings such as toolbox talks are a great way to encourage safe practices in the construction industry. We've found the best topics to improve construction safety, including: common construction hazards, fall protection, safety training, safety responsibility, and safety improvement plans. We'll also discuss how safety software can help follow-up on the discussions in these meetings.
Conduct toolbox talk meetings about these safety topics, and it won’t be long before your workers are enthusiastic about construction safety!
1. The Biggest Hazards to Job Site Safety
It’s no secret the construction site is a dangerous work area. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), roughly one in five worker deaths are in the construction industry.
Each job site is filled with numerous hazards that threaten construction site safety and can result in injuries and fatalities. As such, it’s important your workers know how to report hazards and avoid them as much as possible.
This starts with knowing the most common hazards in construction. Items such as electricity, moving objects, and excessive noise are known to frequently endanger workers. You’ll want to go over these hazards, and more, with anyone who could be exposed to them.
During the safety meeting, explain how these hazards arise and the signs to identify them. Afterwards, you’ll explain how to avoid these issues, and the steps workers should to take to implement corrective actions.
Be aware there are a few topics that your safety meetings should spend a little extra time on. Certain hazards have been identified by OSHA as the Construction “Fatal Four”. The Fatal Four are consistently responsible for nearly 60% of construction worker deaths every year. They include falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between objects.
It’s highly important your safety meetings spend time communicating ways to avoid the Fatal Four. In fact, one of the Fatal Four in particular may require multiple toolbox talk discussions.
2. Toolbox Talks on Fall Protection
Of the Construction Fatal Four, falls are the single leading cause of worker deaths. Each year, falls account for nearly 40% of all construction industry deaths.
This puts extra emphasis on the importance of fall protection measures. You should spend multiple safety meetings discussing the various safety measures available to protect workers from falls.
OSHA Standard 1926.501 outlines the requirements of fall protection employees and employers are expected follow. It also can act as a list of items your team should be familiar with to maximize fall prevention.
Knowing when fall protection is required is key to keeping your team safe. Workers often tend to undermine fall protection in situations where they feel it is excessive or cumbersome. After all is fall protection really necessary if it’s a quick job or a seemingly low height?
The fact is falls can happen at any time, and even a minor fall can easily lead to severe injuries. Spending multiple safety meetings discussing these requirements is the best way to establish a safety culture that takes fall protection seriously.
3. Importance of Construction Safety Training
Another construction safety topic that is often taken too lightly is safety training. Too often, safety training is seen as a time-consuming chore that gets in the way of “real responsibilities”.
This attitude towards safety training is a great threat to worker safety. In fact, a university study concluded that training can actually have a negative impact on worker safety when the worker does not have a positive attitude towards safety training.
As such it is critical you spend a few safety meetings discussing the benefits of safety training, and why it is necessary. Some of your team may roll their eyes at first, but the more time you spend discussing its importance, the more they’ll start to understand.
Taking the time to talk about safety training is a well known tip to improve construction worker safety attitude and create a culture of safety. Even better, you’ll likely see an improvement of the effectiveness of your safety training as well.
Keep in mind that part of the importance of construction safety training isn’t because workers don’t know how to do their jobs safely. Safety training and retraining is to remind workers that they face real dangers everyday, and are able to avoid them because they have the proper skills and knowledge.
Without recurring safety training, it’s easy to start taking safety for granted. It’s no surprise that complacency is one of the most common causes of workplace incidents. So be sure to remind workers that proper training is important for keeping them alert.
4. Responsibility for Construction Site Safety
Similar to the importance of safety training, the perception of who is responsible for safety is often skewed. Of course everyone is concerned with their own safety, and maybe the safety of their closest co-workers, but what about workers from a different company?
Construction sites face a unique situation, in that oftentimes multiple companies will be working on different parts of the same project. Issues can arise when some companies don’t take safety as seriously as others, and put other workers in danger as a result.
From high level injury reporting requirements to basic use of personal protective equipment, it’s important to discuss the roles everyone plays in keeping the site a safe work environment.
During your safety meeting, stress that more than one employer at a worksite can be cited for a single OSHA violation. When one person is careless, it affects all workers regardless of job title or company. Everyone in multi-employer job-sites is responsible for each other's safety.
As part of this discussion, we recommend you also spend some time on how to manage the safety of contractors. This meeting topic aims to get everyone involved in safety by reinforcing that safety is everyone's responsibility. It's also a good way to encourage cooperation among the team.
With these safety meetings, the goal is to create a safety culture that looks beyond the “everyone for themselves” mentality. It’s about recognizing that if one person isn’t taking safety seriously enough, it puts everyone at risk.
5. Brainstorming Safety Improvement Plans
This final topic aims to engage employees and get them more involved with workplace safety. While all your meetings should allow for open discussion, we recommend hosting a meeting every once and a while that gives your team the floor.
Ask them to provide ideas on how to improve safety at your construction site. Find out what aspects of safety they think is important, and where they think improvements are needed. Meetings such as these can boost employee morale in addition to workplace safety.
These worker-led meetings also offer an opportunity to get feedback on the latest safety trends and how effective they might be if incorporated into your safety programs.
Today’s modern technology is constantly offering improvements and innovations to safety initiatives. Discuss how your team might feel if the company started using new technology to improve safety around worksites.
Would they approve if the company used drones for periodic safety inspections? Or would they prefer something more subtle like safety management software before seeing big changes? By hosting meetings on these safety topics, you should expect to see an improvement your site’s safety.
For more ideas on how you can incorporate new technology and ideas into your safety program, check out our recent discussion with AECOM, Black & Veatch, and Parsons Corporation on how they are innovating worker safety management.