Special to Ontario Construction Report
In the world of a safety professional, navigating, communicating, and deciphering the copious amounts of rules and regulations is not an easy task. Especially when there are so many site-specific scenarios, short and long term project goals and plenty of differences in personalities and egos weighing in on what’s right and wrong.
Sometimes the perception of a safety professional’s role sounds simple. In reality, especially in the construction industry, it can be a thankless job where you sincerely care about workers well-being, but in turn you are criticized and berated day in and day out for implementing and enforcing rules that are there for everyone’s benefit.
“Not everyone has the talent of being able to analyze, foresee, identify and point out hazards on a job site”, states Bill Glover, Owner and Senior Safety Consultant at Safety Design Strategies. “After 33 years in construction safety, and over 15 years as a Safety Consultant, I have been privileged to work with the best professionals in the industry. On a daily basis, I see the importance of project management and the safety team collaborating to plan your work and work your plan. Especially at the beginning of a project when it’s paramount to set the stage for a strong, positive safety culture”.
Safety professionals support management and construction workers in providing a safety culture that really can make a difference for reaching the goal of zero accidents. The positive well-being of a company and the success of a construction project can fall in the hands of the safety team, whether it be at a management level or the individual safety officers, inspectors, and trainers at the ground level. Safety professionals are responsible for determining the best procedures and solutions to prevent accidents, create a safe place to work, and most importantly, motivate others to care about safety just as much as they do.
Technology is important but human presence is more so
For the past few years, it has often been stated how technology and automation in software, mobile apps and safety data management platforms are the key to increasing productivity and are critical in achieving the best profits for a construction company. But many project managers have relayed that they feel even more overwhelmed with safety management even though companies have spent thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars on new technologies. While technology and advancement is important and needed in the industry, it’s still a fact that software and data management are only as good as the people who maintain it.
It’s the team on the ground who are vital to a project and with the challenges of finding experienced tradespeople, it’s not always an easy task to put that team together. Physical presence is and always will be critical to the success of a construction project and this is where a third-party safety team can contribute and help management with support on the ground.
“When we’re on site doing a safety inspection, it’s much more than just handing over a technical report to the Site Supervisor”, states Glover. “It’s an impartial view and perception of a project where we can provide vital job information, communicate strategies that can save thousands of dollars, and give the construction team the support and confidence in their safety programs so they can concentrate on project management”.
SDS works with clients on large multi-million / billion-dollar complex projects where they fill in the gaps of an existing safety team and also where they provide all the safety, from beginning to end of a project. They help support companies and projects of all sizes, keeping up to date with safety protocols and making sure their clients are in compliance with regulations.
Future challenges of safety in construction
With rapid technological advances, labour shortages, an aging workforce, extreme weather conditions, ongoing infectious diseases, new building material hazards, mental health issues and increases in alcohol and drug dependencies, it’s easy to see the many challenges the construction industry will be facing in the coming years.
“At the times you need us most, we’ll be there to help in any way we can”, says Glover. “As well as our team of experienced safety specialists, we are currently mentoring younger site safety personnel, safety inspectors, safety training instructors and confined space technicians so we can support you when you need us”.
Safety Design Strategies (SDS) is a full-service safety firm, working with construction management, engineering and government affiliates, providing safety support wherever and whenever needed. For more information on how SDS can support your company and/or your safety team, visit www.sds-safety.com or email email@example.com.