Commercial general contractor business is a rewarding and very lucrative enterprise. But unlike the other industries which are office-centric, construction environments are usually loaded with plenty of safety concerns that require policies and practices in place to ensure the safety of workers.
While there are plenty of factors that account for the safety of the work environment at a construction site, such as maintenance and upgrading of equipment, proper attire among others, the most overlooked is effective workforce management. Industrial construction companies need not only focus on the other issues but should treat effective management of the workforce with the weight it deserves.
Effective management of the construction workforce can be rewarding as it can greatly mitigate the most common safety hazards at a construction site. The following are some of the easiest and best practices you and your team can have in place to help you promote safety at your workplace.
1. Proper workforce scheduling
Are the right workers doing the right work at the right place? Are you mixing less trained workers with managers or foremen with much more experience? Some of the safety hazards at construction sites are often related to having personnel with inappropriate skills working at something they are not suited to. another cause of accidents is overscheduling workers, which can result in fatigue.
Without the right scheduling plan in place, you could be putting not only your workers in danger but also jeopardizing the project’s smooth execution.
Ensure that you have the right number of workers with appropriate skills at a particular site to avoid overscheduling. Always conduct a duty roaster to check how many workers are present and how many are needed before work commences every day.
2. Accountability by workers
Lack of proper supervision can result in some of the employees portraying some strange behaviors, knowing that they are not being monitored. This can result in problems in not only time management but also productivity. But the worst outcome would be creating an unsafe workplace for other workers. If a worker assigned to operate a machine fails to do it as required, any mishaps by the equipment could end up endangering not only the worker but their colleagues on site.
If you do not have a plan in place to keep each on-site worker accountable, you could be increasing the chances of hazardous outcomes. Even though micromanaging workers is not what is recommended here, having a system similar to that can increase your construction management output.
3. Workers location tracking
Do you think each worker is where they were allocated? Do they arrive at their respective sites on time? Are they taking infrequent breaks when they are not supposed to or perhaps spending their breaks where they are not supposed to? Location tracking is a very great concern in any construction site. A worker can choose to be unaccountable by missing at the site which they are allocated.
It can be very wary and tiresome for the foreman to keep track of each worker on site. This may shift their concentration to the most important tasks to be executed.
It is the duty of a general contractor to ensure that the project runs smoothly according to the schedule while reducing miscellaneous expenditures resulting from wasted efforts and time. With the correct tracking tool, the Human Resource team can easily monitor those mischievous workers taking unscheduled breaks, at the wrong site, or taking unauthorized overtime after site closure. This can greatly combat worker fatigue by tracking the number of hours worked.
4. Streamlining communication
Proper communication is a great concern for industrial construction companies relying on a huge and mobile workforce. Fielding calls, messages, or emails reporting illness, requesting time-off, or making inquiries can be really difficult and can greatly waste resources. If workers make inquiries and don’t get feedback in time, workflow at a site may be interrupted, any ill worker endangered, or any hazardous occurrence due to lack of proper communication taking place.
When workers aren’t sure about the goals or what to expect for the day they are more likely to get involved in accidents.
Commercial general contractors should always provide streamlined systems of communication to allow every worker to consistently communicate with the HR team hence eliminate mistakes and save more time for productivity. This can be achieved by having the workers equipped with communication devices such as headsets, smartphones, or walky-talkies to allow quick and efficient communication between the workers.
5. Use of appropriate equipment and tools
This is often adhered to by most construction companies, but still not to satisfactory levels. For any residential or commercial construction, the foreman needs to ensure that their team members are using the right tools and equipment for the tasks at hand. Additionally, having protective gear is equally vital. This will not only ensure the safety of workers but also save the commercial contractors time-solving issues with the respective regulatory authorities over non-compliance.
Regular inspection of the equipment should be done and faulty ones replaced to ensure no malfunctioning equipment or damaged tools are being used. Workers should always be equipped with protective gear, including helmet, protective goggles, dust masks, gloves, and shoes with forwarding metal caps among other. No worker should be allowed on site without the full protective gear as deemed necessary.
6. Creating awareness
In any industry, ignorant workers are perhaps the greatest potential sources of danger. Every little mistake they make due to a lack of knowledge but not only them but everyone else around them at risk. As such, every worker, regardless of their duties or position, must be made aware of all the possible hazards that can occur at a construction site.
Understanding the perils at a site and creating a state of awareness is actually the number one effective way of curbing accidents at construction sites.
7. Appropriate training
Even though much of the skills required at construction works can be learned at work, safety is a unique skill that when learned beforehand, workers are more likely to adhere to it at the site. General contractor San Francisco firms should always ensure that their workers have the appropriate training on safety before entering any site to work. Experienced workers must be put under safety refresher courses in the course of the year.
Much of the work to be done to ensure the workplace is safer for the construction workers mainly depends on the construction management strategies of the general contractor. If the management is poor or ineffective, the results will be very evident with unaccomplished goals, increased miscellaneous budgets, and lack of safety. Construction companies should also ensure they meet the local compliance requirements as stipulated by law before commencing work at any site.
Case Study: Use of Active RFID System
A case where construction firms have managed to improve safety and enhance the efficiency of workers is that of Lettire Construction Corporation’s recent adoption of active RFID systems built by Triax Technologies to track their workers. This system helps the company track 140 of its workers on-site at a given time to ensure that their presence at the site is authorized, are safe from harm and working where they are supposed to be.
Workers simply have photo ID cards with RFID tags that can be tracked to see who reported working, at what time, and where they are.