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7 Steps to Conduct a Productive Safety Training Program for Your Construction Crew

Safety manager conducting training with construction workers


Editorial Note: This article was brought to  you  courtesy of Rose Morrison, managing editor of  Renovated.com.         


Safety should be the top priority on any construction site. Your crew members deserve to feel safe and secure when performing daily work tasks. A productive training program is key for reducing accidents. Here are seven steps to conducting your own.

Step 1: Review Previous Training

Before you create a new training program, evaluate previous training and what it does and doesn’t cover. Do you want to use the same program for guidance or one with updates? The answer depends on when you last did the training and how well it applies to your projects.

In the United States, OSHA requires periodic training for many safety protocols — most of which occur once a year. Their annual training requirements include the following:

  • Mechanical Power Presses
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Hearing Protection
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Fire Brigades
  • Exposure to Dangerous Substances

Check which annual trainings your workplace needs and combine them with safety measures that cover the risky situations your crew could be in.

Step 2: Identify Safety Hazards

There are many safety hazards in the construction industry. Your program should cover common risks and what to do if an unexpected incident happens. Break up your program into sections, so you can go in-depth with the risks without overwhelming your crew.  

Four types of accidents are most likely to cause injury or death on a construction site.

Falls

According to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry — accounting for around 36% of accident-related fatalities.

NIOSH and OSHA collaborated to develop a three-step fall prevention guide for training.

  • Plan: Proper planning is the first step in preventing most construction accidents, including slips and falls. Decide what your crew needs to do, who will do it, any special considerations someone might need and what safety measures to take to keep everyone secure. Add safety equipment to your budget so you don’t have to cut corners regarding your crew’s well-being. Examine potential site hazards, including holes, open edges and slick surfaces.
  • Provide: Crew members working at levels of 6 feet high or higher risk severe injury or death if they fall. The right equipment can ensure everyone’s safety. Guardrails, harnesses and personal fall arrest systems help keep your workers from falling and restrict falls if they do happen. Other precautions include never letting someone go alone to a worksite and not putting anyone near fall hazards after sundown.
  • Train: You should train anyone on a site to safely navigate it without falling. Review any potential hazards and prepare each individual to use protective equipment properly.

Electrocution

Electrocution accidents usually happen due to not protecting and de-energizing lines on the site and failing to maintain minimum clearance. Improper extension cord use is another electrocution cause on many sites. Most electrocutions on work sites involve improperly trained workers. 

The National Electrical Contractors Association standard mandates proper planning to avoid OSHA violations around temporary lighting use, site planning and receptacles. All contractors should use safe working practices, such as utilizing ground-fault circuit interrupters and knowing the locations of all nearby power lines. Contact utility companies to de-energize lines before going within 10 feet of them, use lock-out practices and ensure equipment is grounded and double interested.  

You should also train employees to inspect tools for safety before using them and keep metal objects from live electrical circuits.

“Caught-In”

These incidents occur when someone gets caught in or between items and can’t escape. They include cave-ins, body parts trapped in machinery, caught between equipment and fixed objects or being pinned to the ground by a fallen thing.

Excavations are a common cause of hazards on work sites. Workers are more than twice as likely to die on these sites than others. If someone gets trapped and lives, they could face exposure to toxic fumes that can poison them or catch fire. These sites also are prone to rising water and sewage that can drown workers. 

Loose clothing can get caught in machinery, leading to the loss of limbs or life. Someone could get caught by a swinging crane or other moving machinery without paying attention. Train your workers to stay aware of all sites and avoid getting caught in dangerous scenarios. Keep barricades around the radius or swinging equipment or unstable ground.  

When operating equipment, have your workers wear seatbelts to avoid falling from them. Ensure all loads are secure before moving them. When repairing them, block the wheels to prevent movement and block any blades.  

Everyone should know all equipment operating on a site and any potentially hazardous structures to avoid these accidents.

“Struck-By”

Struck-by accidents happen when a worker gets stuck by an object. Any moving item could be a hazard. Walking below elevated surfaces creates the risk of getting struck by falling objects like tools and materials.

Vehicles are common causes of these accidents, as are unsecured items on platforms. Flying objects are also a common cause. Power tools that pulse and pry at the ground can create flying debris that could injure a worker. The same can happen by grinding or striking materials.

Air pressure is also something to consider. Anything above 30 pounds per square inch could cause oil and particles to enter a worker’s skin. Slipping items can strike items. When loading vehicles, ensure nothing can fall off of them before you begin moving. As you drive, ensure someone is aware and watching your vehicle to alert anyone who may get in the way.

Any materials moved overhead can fall and strike someone. Ensure any material is secure before moving it, and set barriers around machinery before moving an object. Train all employees to keep safe from elevated moving objects and wear the proper protective gear.

Non-construction motor vehicles also cause a risk on many construction sites. Inattentive drivers and improper signage can lead to tragedies. Training construction workers to use proper lighting, signage and barriers and having crew members stay attentive can reduce the risk of these accidents.

Step 3: Get Necessary Certifications

If you aren’t certified to hold safety training for your team, getting the certification is important. Experts recommend that leaders and managers enroll in specialized training to meet nationally recognized criteria.

OSHA has courses for the following topics, including:

  • Slips and Falls Awareness
  • Fall Protection
  • Chemical Hazards
  • Asbestos Awareness
  • Electrical Safety
  • Ladder and Stairway Protection
  • Crane and Hoist Safety
  • Arc Flash Safety
  • Aerial Boom Lift Safety
  • Excavation Safety
  • Nail Gun Safety
  • First Aid 

Some in-person and online courses can cover the essentials for you and anyone in your crew. Most include 10-30 hours of coursework. Completing helps teach you to keep to government regulations, reducing your workers’ chance of injury and liability from poor training.

Step 4: Consider Your Training Method

Once you know exactly what you want to train and have the credentials to hold your program, you can decide how to teach them. Choose whether to train employees during or outside of work hours. Also, decide whether your program will be at a specific time or location in the participants’ time.

Every worker should receive the training, including subcontractors and freelancers. Anyone who enters the site should know how to avoid risks. You can share virtual and physical checklists during a project to remind workers what they learned.

Hybrid training is common now and might be a good strategy for your crew. Create online modules for trainees to learn about safety protocols. Then, find time to meet in person and review scenarios.

Step 5: Identify Needed Resources

To capture your workers’ attention, you need to make training interesting. Determine what resources you need to engage each crew member. Can you incorporate any props, virtual reality scenarios or videos into the training?

You’ll also need to ensure you have what you need to prepare for the training. Without proper safety resources, parts of the training could be useless.  

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is vital for keeping your crew safe. Having it on hand lets you demonstrate to each person what they need to use on the site and how to use it. There are many options out there specific to different specialties.  

  • Gloves: Protects from chemical burns, accidental impacts, hot metals and electrical shocks.
  • Hard hats and safety helmets: Protects the head from impact.
  • Fall protection: Prevents serious damage from slips and falls.
  • Earmuffs: Guard hearing from loud equipment and banging.
  • Safety goggles: Protect eyes from debris and chemicals.
  • Respirators: Prevent breathing in harmful particles of dust.
  • Face shields: Protect airways, skin and eyes from sparks and debris.

Order enough PPE to cover all employees for all their tasks, preventing skin irritation, infections and permanent damage.

Step 6: Hold Your Training

Before going to a work site: 

  1. Ensure each worker has proper training.
  2. Hold annual programs that keep everyone up to date on safety recommendations.
  3. Stay positive through the process and ask questions to ensure everyone pays attention.

Every task has unique risks, and you should ensure everyone has the right equipment, knowledge and protocols for their specialty. Keep equipment organized and remove any damaged options before showing them how to use it. Teach them how to test their gear frequently to ensure it’s safe for use.  

At the end of your training, provide a contact for workers to ask any questions they think about afterward.

Step 7: Frequently Review the Material

Your program doesn’t end at your last training session. Keeping safe should be a constant priority on the job site. Ensure each person knows the protocol before starting on each project. You can send out virtual documentation for workers to have on hand and post safety rules around the site for everyone to view daily.

Conducting a Productive Training Program

With these steps, you can develop a training program that keeps your construction crew safe on every project.

Editorial Note: You also may consider hiring a Safety Manager trained in designing and overseeing effective site-specific safety programs.


This is a guest post written by Rose Morrison, managing editor of Renovated.com. 


 

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