Most every firm in the construction industry has tools that illustrate their commitment to safety and care for the craft professional. They come in the form of slogans, policies, procedures and every form/checklist conceivable — all with the best of intentions.
Both safety professionals and front-line supervisors talk tirelessly of the importance of safety:
- We gather the craft workers upon project mobilization and have them participate in the mandatory safety orientation, often a video or presentation format with little interaction. Upon conclusion, site leadership “speaks” to the safety expectations of the project. Then, prior to being released to production activities, an acknowledgment of safety expectations and practices is secured.
- Daily task meetings are often conducted (JHA, AHA, TSA) where site leadership or foremen are charged with reviewing the day’s work activities. Identification of potential risks and exposures are reviewed, followed by the crew’s signature of understanding.
- Crews gather frequently to review a safety topic or toolbox talk. Supervisors read a selected topic document to the team and speak to its importance. Often with little-to-no real interaction, the crews are asked to acknowledge their participation before returning to work.
These engagement opportunities, and many more, illustrate the efforts of leadership to communicate safety expectations to the workforce. But, as you may notice, most of these attempts are primarily one-way conversations, documented to show that safety is important.
I would suggest that many of these well-intended encounters have become “check box” tasks for safety professionals and front-line supervisors; tasks to ensure take place prior to getting the work done. Without passion for these safety tools and encounters, little value or importance is visible to the workforce.
Project leadership and their communications, both spoken and unspoken, contribute greatly to the safety culture/climate on a project. Craft professionals can easily sniff out a lack of passion or value presented by project leadership.
Often, our project leaders are great builders and extremely knowledgeable safety professionals, but most lack the soft skills required to motivate, influence and empower. This management skill could be the missing piece required to fully marry safety with production.
Seeing is believing. If we take a step back to view ourselves from the perspective of the craft professional, what would we see? Do we see an individual investing time, passion and knowledge in making our projects and workforces safer? Does safety and well-being appear to be a priority or just another box to check?
Seeing is believing. Make the extra effort to motivate, influence and empower. The results in safety, production and morale will be contagious.
Want to learn more about the safety-minded culture within Haskell and how it contributes to project success? Contact our safety specialist, Lance Simons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 904.357.4967.