Implementing an accident prevention and response program
Construction sites are inherently dangerous places. To protect your workers and bottom line, you must actively work at minimizing safety hazards and handling injuries appropriately. Read on for some tips on implementing an effective accident prevention and response program.
Starting the conversation
The genesis of any good program lies with your people. Form a company safety committee to review all recent occurrences, discuss how to prevent accidents, and put the program into words and action.
Talk about whether your crews are following basic steps, such as noting safety hazards and identifying the resources needed if an accident occurs. Because job sites evolve constantly, also make sure you have someone checking in on projects regularly to see whether new job hazards have developed.
Handling an incident
Your accident prevention and response program should describe a clear process for responding to and reporting incidents. Every worker needs to know to whom and where to go if something goes wrong.
For smaller crews, the foreman can likely handle and report incidents. For larger ones, you might name an on-site safety officer whose sole (or primary) duties are to maintain safety awareness as well as conduct incident response and reporting.
Turning to the "where," establish a mandatory first-aid area on every job site to treat minor injuries and coordinate incident response. Identify a local medical facility where employees with nonemergency injuries should go, and ensure any such afflicted worker brings a signed treatment authorization form.
In addition, for every job, require a check-in with local first responders about their limitations. For example, how long will it take them to reach your workers if they're in a high-rise office building?
Minimizing the fallout
Following an incident, the foreman or safety officer must complete a detailed report describing the accident and naming everyone involved — including witnesses and potentially liable third parties. He or she should also initiate the report to your workers' compensation insurer. Get this going right away, as delayed reporting can cause your claim costs to soar.
Establish other procedures as well, such as calling the affected worker and his or her physician within 24 hours after the incident. And then stay in touch to discuss the employee's condition, work restrictions and availability, and developments in the claims process.
Staying safer, stronger
Safety mishaps can reduce productivity, elevate your insurance costs and even make it harder to land new jobs. Unfortunately, it's impossible to completely eliminate the risk of job-site accidents. Nonetheless, having a comprehensive accident prevention and response program can help keep workers safer and your bottom line stronger. •