An aspect of construction safety that often slips through the cracks is good communication. This is strange because logic dictates that without effective communication even the most elaborate and detailed safety plans would prove ineffective.
Communication is more than just speaking to staff about hazards and safety measures, it includes written and verbal communication, informal as well as formal communication such as training and safety meetings.
It is also important to remember that communication is a two way process and involves more than merely dictating to staff about safety. Employers also need to listen to what workers have to say about safety because they can shed light on safety issues they may have experienced that employers may not even be aware of.
Many of the accidents we witness on construction sites are a result of a lack of communication in some way or another which is why employers should encourage workers, supervisors, management, contractors and everyone on site to communicate with each other and with the employer.
Another important part of communication on a construction site is incident and near miss reporting. It is important that employers facilitate this reporting procedure and ensure that employees are aware of these procedures. They should also encourage workers to report their concerns or errors being made because this will facilitate better safety. Ensuring that workers feel free to report concerns is a vital part of getting them involved in site safety and therefore promotes safety at the same time.
The saying “no man is an island” is especially true when it comes to work on a construction site. As soon as we realize that our actions, or lack thereof have implications for others on site and vice versa the better we will understand the important role played by communication on a building site. This inter relatedness of construction workers is another reason why construction safety training is so important. Unlike many other jobs the negligence of one worker can cause injury and even death to another, so ensuring that every worker has received the appropriate safety training is a vital part of maintaining a good safety record on the site overall.
Communication is a very vast and in-depth subject and therefore cannot be discussed in one post however employers should determine each and every way they can effectively communicate about safety to staff from training to holding weekly safety meetings, to providing written material for them.
The manner in which employers communicate with staff is just as important as how often they communicate and about what. For example when communicating with an injured worker it is important to maintain communication with them throughout their time off work. It is also important not to pressurize them to return to work prematurely or communicate in a way that can cause them more stress and anxiety during a time when they should be healing. WorkCover Queensland has recently released a guide for employers on how to communicate with injured workers. Visit WorkCover’s site for more on this subject www.workcoverqld.com.au