The construction industry is known for being one of the most dangerous fields to work in, and construction workers are consistently exposed to various hazards and risks.
This is where a proper implementation of a safety management system (SMS) can be extremely important for any construction business to prevent work-related fatalities, accidents, and occupational hazards.
An effective safety management system might seem simple at the first glance: setting up policies to describe safety best practices, as well as do’s and don’ts. However, in practice, the actual implementation can be quite complex and may require in-depth learning and planning.
In this guide, we will discuss all you need to know about the construction health and safety management system.
Why Do You Need an Effective Construction Health and Safety Management System?
Even since the early days of the modern construction industry, early safety management systems were already in place. However, back then the safety management system was only implemented for the organization to stay in compliance with the safety regulations of the time. The assumption is that if the company meets the legal requirements, it is safe.
However, things have changed since then, and now construction companies no longer implement their SMS solely based on government regulations and instructions, but rather by conducting their own risk assessments to figure out their unique health and safety requirements.
Thus, today’s construction health and safety management system is focused on at least three things:
- Local regulations: companies must stay in compliance with local government regulations. Most countries make it a legal requirement for construction companies to maintain secure working conditions.
- Cost-effectiveness: the general principle is that resources and time spent on accident prevention are typically more cost-effective than dealing with the accident after it happens.
- Moral obligations: companies should prioritize the safety of their employees, customers, and everyone involved in the business process.
Below, we will discuss how to implement a proper SMS for a construction company.
Implementing Safety Management System for Construction Companies
A construction health and safety management system is a systematic way of identifying potential hazards in the construction business’s processes.
The safety management system (SMS) should include the construction company’s safety policies, procedures, and systems for making sure all the necessary precautions have been taken for the safety of everyone involved in the business process.
A proper construction company SMS would typically involve:
- Identification of potential safety hazards: a very important aspect of implementing a safety management system is identifying all safety hazards, as well as the risk associated with each hazard and which parties these hazards are more likely to affect.
- Deploying policies and procedures: to reduce risks from each hazard to acceptable levels and/or completely eliminating the risks.
- Monitoring: continuous monitoring of the policies deployed, as well as performing a regular evaluation of safety performance
- Adjustment and continual improvement: based on the monitoring and evaluation, we should adjust and improve the safety management system for better results
Step 1: Plan
The first and arguably the most important step in implementing a construction health and safety management system is to perform hazard and risk assessment.
Depending on your location, you might be legally required to perform a risk assessment as a construction company. If your construction company deals with relatively high-risk activities like scaffolding or working at height, then a more comprehensive risk assessment process might be required.
Safety management system by iReportSource can significantly help you in performing safety audits and risk assessments. You’ll be able to audit your current system and comprehend the audit findings through discovery to planning to successful closure.
Based on this risk assessment, we can now develop safety policies and procedures to reduce or completely eliminate these risks.
Step 2: Do
The next step is to implement the safety policies and procedures, and one of the core activities in this step is to regularly train your staff to stay in compliance with these policies.
You can use tools like iReport Source to automatically assign training, reminders, and due dates while also tracking each staff’s usage on each training material.
The type of training programs you employ must cover the security policies and procedures you’ve planned, including policies on safely using work equipment.
It’s important to note that training is a two-way process, and you should allow your staff and employees to voice their concerns and feedback about the ongoing training programs.
Step 3: Check
The next step is about monitoring the ongoing safety management system and evaluate the following areas:
- Near misses
- Safety audits and inspections
- Corrective actions
- Overall health and wellness
- Environmental hazards
- Budget spend
You should evaluate each aspect of the safety management system implementation in order to check on the effectiveness, efficiency, and relevance of the system implementation.
Step 4: Act
Based on the risk assessment you’ve performed and the objective of your safety management system, you can make the necessary adjustments to further improve the safety management system.
As you can see, the actual implementation of the safety management system should be an ongoing cycle, so you should keep monitoring the implementation and apply control/adjustment as needed.
Having a health and safety management system is a crucial aspect of any construction business, but it’s also important to remember that each company is unique and thus might also require a unique safety management implementation.
Your priority should be the implementation of a functional safety management system that can keep your employees, customers, vendors, and even the public safe as you perform your business activities.