Notice anything missing in the picture above?
- Sets a safe example. A safe worker refuses to give in to peer pressure. Instead, he wears safety gear and takes safety precautions regardless of what co-workers do or say. Safe workers also pay attention to signs alerting them to safe procedures, cautions or emergency protocol.
- Knows limits and qualifications. Knowing individual limits, such as when lifting objects, as well as qualifications, such as those for driving a forklift, using cranes and working with electricity, prevents injuries caused by exceeding ability and knowledge. Likewise, knowing expertise helps spread the responsibility for safety and awareness thus making safety more of a team effort.
- Respects machinery and equipment. Even though supervisors may walk through and inspect equipment daily, construction workers focused on safety take responsibility for the machinery and equipment they use by also inspecting before use as well as by making sure they use the equipment properly. These construction workers also know when machinery needs repaired and don’t hesitate to report any unsafe use.
- Makes sure instead of assuming. When a worker makes sure rather than assumes, accidents and injuries are prevented. For example, never assume another person will take care of faulty equipment and instead make sure it’s being handled. And, never assume electrical wires are safe for touching; instead, make sure qualified individuals handle the situation.
- Exercises caution. A responsible construction worker exercises caution by testing heavy objects before lifting them and by always respecting electricity. Other examples include never walking under a loaded crane and always using seat belts when operating heavy equipment to prevent being crushed in a rollover. Caution simply involves an awareness of activity taking place on the construction site as a whole and not just within the specific task assigned to the worker.
- Organizes self and work area. Organization begins with making sure the proper tools are available and in good working order prior to beginning any task and then assessing any potential safety hazards and planning accordingly. For example, safe habits involving ladders on a construction site begins with choosing the right ladder for the job, tying the ladder down if necessary and avoiding carrying tools or other materials in-hand when climbing the ladder.
- Sensible. A sensible worker knows to avoid loose clothing and to wear high-visibility clothing. The sensible worker also knows to stay hydrated regardless of the weather and to minimize distractions, such as cell phone usage while working. In addition, a sensible worker understands the importance of a general knowledge of construction safety even outside of assigned tasks. For example, even if not working directly with electricity, he understand the general rules for construction electrical safety knowing that there’s always potential for its application.
- Proactive. Proactive construction workers address safety concerns before problems arise, and they ask for training when unsure of how to use equipment or complete a task. Being proactive also involves taking responsibility for identifying hazards, protecting themselves and others from injury and recognizing the need for additional information or action. Although not in charge, a proactive construction worker realizes the role that thinking ahead plays in keeping everyone on the job site safe and productive.
- Cooperates with supervisors. Accepting rules set in place and doing so with a positive attitude influences others to do the same. In addition, supervisors appreciate the support toward their efforts of ensuring a safe working environment. Safety often feels inconvenient, but positive and cooperative construction workers know that safety procedures exist for a reason.
- Tries to stay healthy. Construction work is physically demanding, and healthy lifestyle choices and habits help prevent injuries. A health-conscious worker pays attention to hydration, to eating energizing foods and to maintaining basic physical fitness. Healthy workers also know that warm muscles tend less toward injury, so they remember to stretch before strenuous activity such as digging or lifting.
- Stays constantly aware of situation. A safe construction worker knows when a situation or equipment is unsafe and takes appropriate action. This means making a point to understand specific tasks and taking appropriate measures toward safety. For example, if working on a scaffolding, a safety-oriented worker understands weight limits and the importance of a stable and properly assembled scaffold. He also knows when to add a safety harness.
- Works as a team player. A team player looks out not only for personal safety but for the safety of others on the construction site. This involves being aware of things like working conditions contributing to a caught-in-or-between hazard, alerting appropriate individuals to any unguarded equipment, and knowing the hazards related to working in trenches. In other words, a team player shows awareness and concern not just for assigned tasks but also holds a general awareness of other work taking place on the site.
Safe construction sites are ones where supervisors and workers all play a role in recognizing hazards, even those outside of assigned tasks. When safety exists as a priority, no worker says “that’s not my job.” Instead, every individual on the site does what is necessary to prevent injuries whether by simply being aware of hazards on the job site as a whole, obtaining adequate training for specific job responsibilities, or taking personal responsibility for individual safety.
Safety on a construction site involves every individual because it only takes one person’s unsafe practices or carelessness to create a hazardous situation for everyone on site.