We have gathered timeless advice as imparted by a panel of safety experts in our ongoing effort to campaign for on-site construction site safety. Today interviews and articles (formerly Occupational Hazards) were conducted and written in 2013, 2015, and 2019.

Here are the tips from the experts:

1. Provide strong safety culture leadership

Organizations make things happen by managing things. It is a linear function, a functional one. Organizations lead by showing employees why safety matters, why they should be motivated to get behind it and want to do it.

A good safety culture starts from top to bottom and should be led, implemented and completely embraced by the CEO and senior management. Strong leadership coupled with a robust commitment to management is highly correlated with performance at HSE. Having strong leaders to lead and show by example what HSE actions are tolerated and punished, greatly influences employee attitudes and safety.

2. Have a comprehensive HSE management system

“Do not have a number of stand-alone programs, such as lockout / tag out, job security analysis, behavior-based safety, space-confined entry etc. Instead be sure to integrate all elements of the safety program into a single management system owned by line management.

An integrated HSE management system provides a structured management approach to manage HSE processes, factors and safety hazards effectively. The development of KPIs and metrics for safety performance at construction sites contributes to predictability and desired outcomes that avoid problems and solve problems before they can occur..

3. Integrate safety into the business process.

By making safety a core value rather than just a priority, HSE processes on the construction site will remain resilient regardless of organizational changes. “Most organizations’ priorities change…Our business priorities have changed, but because safety, health, and environment are a core value, they have not changed. Next year it will be there, it is there now, last year it was there.

4. Police your HSE Programme

  • Plan for health, safety, and environment in all that you do on the construction site.
  • Organize so that HSE is an equal player with all other construction aspects.
  • Lead by example, walk the talk.
  • Inspect/Investigate for construction site hazards and issues and press for timely corrective action.
  • Correct items and situations discovered in a timely manner. Coach for safety performance. Commend safe activity and performance.
  • Evaluate how the HSE system is functioning. Assess and develop solutions and strive for continuous improvement.

5. Take a rational disciplined approach to HSE

  • “Safety should not be an emotional subject any more than anything else in the business. Take a rational disciplined approach.”
  • Scaring employees or playing on the emotional aspects of worksite illnesses and injuries (for example, the impact of an injury to the lives of employees and their families) does not encourage people to embrace a safety culture. Having a rational and disciplined approach to understanding the causes of why safety risks and problems occur is the way to go. When people on the construction site understand, their perspectives on worksite safety expand and the reason why these safety and HSE measures are being taken suddenly makes total sense.

6. Practice accountability for all parties

Companies should engage their workers in safety procedures through periodic and continuous communication of core values, their inclusion in incident investigations, and their participation in audit teams, etc. If they see senior management who walks the talk when it comes to implementing and following HSE processes, this trickles down to the actual construction site with people taking ownership of their responsibilities and taking accountability for their mistakes.

7. Encourage an active and open dialogue

“Managers who provide regular updates and encourage open discussions to help employees better understand the company’s overall goals and their own role in helping to achieve these objectives.”

Keeping an active and open dialogues makes it easy for employees to talk about health, safety and environmental concerns in the construction site. Workers will have no qualms about reporting hazards right away and identifying potential issues that management may have missed.

8. Have regular worksite safety meetings

There are several ways to engage workers, but the single, most-effective way is with monthly safety meetings. This is the opportunity to accomplish several of the key components of a strong safety culture. I want to go on record advising you to throw out the old model that we’ve been using for decades: the standard monthly safety meeting. Change the goal of the meeting from often repetitious, one-way communication, to getting people involved. I realize that’s a real shift in focus, but an important one.

9. Keep the construction site clean

“Broken tools, broken windows, dust buildup on machinery and windowsills. If it’s a construction site, you see materials piled up, cords snaking around, trip and fall hazards everywhere. Good housekeeping is one of the best predictors of safety, and is a leading indicator.”