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Proper Communication is Key to Keeping Construction Employees Safe

June 19, 2015
 / Safety / 

raptor2Creating and maintaining a safe working environment goes beyond obvious concerns like fall hazards. A large portion of the employer responsibilities under OSHA focuses on proper communication with workers. Safety protocol in the workplace can be followed only if every employee is clear on the specific hazards they may encounter.

Employers must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.

If there is any type of language barrier present, an employee could easily misinterpret a key term or two but still grasp the overall idea. Even a native speaker could understand the language of the training but not the vocabulary. They may understand that a certain material is possibly carcinogenic, but may not know what the word "carcinogenic" means. A good safety training plan should also ensure that every worker grasps the vocabulary being used.

Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.

The safety guy can't be everywhere at all times. Make sure potential hazards are given the appropriate signage, and be sure that employees understand what they all mean. Uniformity and easy visibility are key. If a color coding system is used where yellow means overhead hazard, having a yellow sign that declares a tripping hazard could cause problems.

Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.

Have a plan, keep it up to date, and make sure everyone knows about it. It is your responsibility as an employer to make sure that your procedures are easily understood and communicated to all employees. If everyone is on the same page as to how things should be running, dangerous situations can be more easily avoided.

Employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must develop and implement a written hazard communication program and train employees on the hazards they are exposed to and proper precautions (and a copy of safety data sheets must be readily available). See the OSHA page on Hazard Communication.

Improper handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals is a safety hazard that can go beyond a single injury -- it can lead to catastrophe. Employees have the right to know what kinds or materials they are working with and how to handle them. A clearly written hazard communication program and appropriate training on that program can employees safe and informed.

Even the safest jobsite in the world is not truly safe if employers and employees experience a failure to communicate.

Want to learn how HCSS can help you keep your employees and job sites safe? Download our HCSS Safety demo now to see how you can manage safety meetings and inspections, collect and report on incidents and near misses, and track employee certifications and skills.


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