Over the years our amazing clients have shared loads of safety wisdom with us – from awesome innovations to the “oh crap” moments. In this series we’re looking at the challenges they’ve faced and the lessons we learnt from them.
An auditor came to site and to answer three questions:
- Who’s on site today?
- Are they all inducted?
- Do they understand the risks and hazards of this worksite?
The site manager gathered his thoughts and responded to the auditor, confident that his answers would fulfill the auditor’s requirements. The auditor proceeded to look through the Induction folder, and then chose a few workers to talk to before he made his way to the next site.
Let’s pause it there…
Was the site manager ever truly confident that:
- Everyone on site at that given time had been inducted
- Had signed the required paperwork and filed it correctly
- Had taken the time today, and days prior to that, to sign on and off from the site attendance register
We’ll never know. You’d like to think that all supporting documentation is accurate and honest, however, it’s hard to police these things at the best of times, let alone when you’ve got an auditor breathing down your neck.
A safety manager once told us, “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”. Tolerating bad behaviour with safety processes is like rubbish accumulating around your site. One little piece of rubbish doesn’t seem like a lot at first glance. That’s understandable. It’s when the rubbish starts to accumulate. This is when the problems start to rise and the poorly managed garbage solution is thrown out the window and you’re left to pick up the pieces.
Small precautionary steps are taken on a construction site every day. From inducting new workers to performing pre-starts, there’s a multitude of organisational touch points that go into any one site.
While it’s easy to list off a bunch of things that you’d come to expect would happen on a site on a daily basis, you’d be wrong. As we’ve come to learn from the community – every site has its own heartbeat. Treating sites the same is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – it’s just not going to work.
Flaws of the past
Beyond the impact on the worker, accidents in construction can have an effect on teams, projects and ultimately the reputation of a company.
When a worker shows up to work on a new site they will go through a number of procedures to ultimately be “deemed” competent for that particular site. They will be signed off by site staff and they will go on their merry way.
Ben has just been inducted onto a site. This site has more than one access point because it’s a civil site – it’s too big to expect everyone to enter through one access point. However, despite it being so large there’s only one site office.
While Ben has met up for an induction at the site office next to the southern gate, tomorrow he’ll be working near the eastern gate so he’ll enter through there. Ben was told that the site office that he’s just been to for his induction is where he’s required to sign on and off on the site attendance register each day.
Ben nods his head and says “no worries” when told this vital piece of safety procedure. He then signs the dotted lines of his induction declaration and heads out towards his eastern gate location.
Let’s pause it here…
Did Ben ever come back through the southern gate again? According to the site attendance records he didn’t.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Plenty. Ben couldn’t care less about spending an extra 15-minutes a day to sign a “piece of paper” at the site office. He’s been in the industry 15 years, so he thinks he knows how to keep himself safe on site. Is this the right mentality? No. Does Ben have a point? You better believe it.
Safety isn’t something you can put on a piece of paper and ask everyone to sign. It’s a commitment. A lifestyle that you need to enforce and reinforce with active steps and accountability. You need workers to utilise and engage with the safety procedures you have in place.
If you want workers to drive safety on site, you need to give them the tools to succeed.
Reimagining your Safety System
Our most innovative clients constantly stress the importance of reassessing their safety systems, to make sure they’re resilient and self-reinforcing.
Site visibility is a great example: Site safety should start the moment workers walk through the front gate, but most paper processes don’t. How can you manage an individual’s safety if you don’t know when they arrive? And how can you know they’re on site if they don’t sign that “piece of paper”?
By questioning and reassessing the safety processes that have become status quo, you can create systems that have redundancy built in. And sometimes all it can take is a few small changes to make a big difference.
That’s not to say this change process is easy. It’s hard to acknowledge a flaw in something you’ve been doing for so long (not to mention relaying that flaw to the rest of your team and getting them to believe it). It’s even harder when every site has its own unique set of challenges.
Civil works can be large and have multiple access points (as we’ve seen in Ben’s case). Fitout companies may work on a number of levels and so keeping an eye on each level can be hard to do.
Large commercial projects may see hundreds of people on any given day, causing management headaches and countless hours policing paperwork and managing individual compliance.
This is where tech built for construction can sweep your rubbish problem towards the bin.
What if you were to automate something as small as site attendance? Everyone would be able to take ownership of their own safety from the get-go and all they’ve had to do was download a free app. All the while you’ve invested those hours into other things.
The follow-on effects of small changes can be enormous. By reimagining this one function, compliance skyrockets – productivity the same, and all you’ve had to do was tell your blokes to use their phones. And since that there’s a reliable attendance register in the pocket of every site manager, they also have a phone directory for every person on site. And the ability to send evacuation alerts to every worker’s phone. And record of every worker’s induction… you get the idea.
True visibility on site doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. It’s as simple as giving workers the tools they need to succeed. We’ve seen that on the hundreds of sites that use SignOnSite.
Technology isn’t a magic wand that will singlehandedly solve every compliance problem. It’s a powerful tool to help you reshape your site processes – it’s up to you to use it to move towards the safety culture you want.
We can point you in the right direction, but it’s up to you to get creative with the tools.
Want to chat about how you can leverage technology? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or book a free SignOnSite demo today.