Guest Article written by Estelle Liotard
It goes without saying that the safety and wellbeing of your staff is a top priority. According to Work Injury Source, 26% of all non-fatal work injuries in 2019 resulted from slips, trips, and falls. This has led to more than 229,000 workers being forced to miss work due to injuries related to workplace objects and equipment.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics report from Nov. 2020 reported that 888,200 non-fatal injuries caused private industry workers to miss workdays due to mandatory recovery periods. Regardless of whether you specialize in construction, home improvement, or other niches commonly related to physical work injuries, workplace safety can improve through better communication.
Finding effective solutions to workplace communication can not only make your crews safer and more efficient but also lead to far fewer work-related conflicts. With that, let’s discuss how fostering internal communication can help make your workplace safer and more productive as we go into 2021.
How are Internal Communication and Workplace Safety Related?
Ask any project manager or a construction site worker about effective communication, and they will tell you that it goes hand-in-hand with workplaces safety. Unfortunately, it’s extremely easy for a crew member to get injured due to the scale of the construction project and the manpower involved. A misplaced tool or poorly secured safety gear can lead to non-fatal or fatal injuries at the drop of a pin.
According to OSHA statistics from 2019, 58.6% of workplace fatalities happened in the construction industry, and of those, they were categorized as follows:
- Falls – 33.5%
- Struck by object – 11.1%
- Electrocutions – 8.5%
- Caught-in/between – 5.5%
This can be avoided by planning your projects more carefully, diversifying recruitment, and by acquiring the necessary safety equipment for your crews. Internal communication and workplace safety are closely interlinked, meaning that a well-oiled team with proper coordination is less likely to be prone to workplace injuries. That can only be achieved through effective, non-stop communication and organization among the workers, something project managers should facilitate and promote from day one.
Practical Ways to Foster Better Workplace Safety
Let’s discuss the practical ways to foster the above-mentioned workplace safety. Depending on the projects your crews work on, they may have limited access to digital devices and be required to handle dangerous tools regardless. There are several practical ways in which you can foster secure communication without smartphones since those don’t really belong in the field:
- Staff training prior to fieldwork (ensuring everyone is licensed and experienced)
- Meetings before projects start (setting goals and workplace safety rules)
- Printed signage and safety actions throughout the workplace
- Toolbox talks (regular talks over lunch or as a break from work)
- Access to appropriate safety gear and medical supplies in case of emergency
- Team safety checks before and after each day’s work
- Mandatory incident report writing from project managers for the sake of future improvement
Safety Benefits of Improving Workplace Communication
More Collaborative and Safer Workplace
If your workplace promotes worker health and safety, each individual on your payroll will be more inclined to collaborate with others regardless of prior reservations.
A good business idea will only get you so far without implementing proper safety regulations and without fostering collaborative workplace communication. Thus, more communication will naturally lead to better teamwork and safety among crew members, even without the project manager’s explicit oversight.
Smart Duty Delegation
No two members of your team will have the same skillset, and you are likely to employ both junior and senior workers for your crews. This is where internal communication can translate to life or death decisions since it is extremely important that construction duties are delegated properly.
Junior workers might want to prove themselves and take on a dangerous part of construction work, or a senior worker might feel under the weather. Project managers can annunciate the importance of carefully delegating construction tasks to each team member based on their prior experience and current condition. Given the improved internal communication, crews will be far more likely to pay closer attention to each other’s wellbeing going forward.
More Efficient Resource Management
Depending on the type of construction project, your workers might have to work with limited tools and resources, at least momentarily. Likewise, your crews might miss crucial members on particular days due to unforeseen emergencies or injuries, leading to mandatory reevaluation of available manpower and resources.
Instead of going into downtime and wasting workdays, individuals will be more inclined to make the most out of the situation and organize internally. Thanks to better internal communication, your crew will be encouraged to sit down and make sure that all of the available resources are used efficiently.
Improved Company Image
Your company will only be as successful as the workers you hire – their safety is your top priority, especially in the field. Fostering better internal communication and improving how individuals interact will inevitably reflect on your company’s reputation on the market.
Specifically, more companies will be inclined to hire your crews for construction work, and more workers will approach you with employment inquiries. This can improve your company’s bottom line, not to mention the fact that your workplace injuries index will drop significantly due to better communication.
Better Performance Analysis
The performance analysis of your crews should find its way into your HR’s agenda going forward for the sake of further improving workplace collaboration. Failing to diligently conduct data analysis on how your crews performed can lead to some of the several problems for your company:
- Drop in workers’ trust toward management
- Poor communication of deadlines and expectations
- Poor compliance with company policies and goals
- Lack of understanding of how to do the work correctly
Performance analysis should be coordinated with project managers and crew leaders who should keep tabs on how teams perform during work hours. Once you collect sizable data on past projects, your HR will be able to find valuable correlations and improvement opportunities for safety regulations.
Practically Applying Better Workplace Safety and Communication Standards
When all is said and done, it should be noted that applying new standards of regulation to an existing workforce can be difficult. Your crews are used to doing things one way, and your HR and managers are likely to face some resistance in regards to new standards. Your workplace safety and communication standards implementation can be smoother if you organize a small seminar or meeting for everyone to attend.
The question of internal communication and how it should be implemented is definitely up in the air and open for interpretation. It’s best to treat the topic as “everyone’s property” and not just drop a list of regulations on field-level workers and call it a day. Workplace safety culture is a serious issue, one which every worker on your payroll is directly responsible for upholding.