Every construction company, from the smallest mom-and-pop operation to the urban scions of skyscrapers, wants the same thing: to run a safe, efficient job site. These two factors are top-of-mind for every contractor, but few have mastered them both.
Safety is a significant component of construction. To put it lightly, the work on job sites is grueling and perilous. Although best practices, equipment, and training have come a long way, thousands of employees are injured on construction sites annually, sometimes fatally.
The human cost of these accidents is impossible to measure, and incidents like these negatively affect site efficiency, as well. Less productivity usually means higher prices, which is why efficiency, in addition to safety, is so critical for construction companies across the globe.
Keeping up with the latest safety innovations, efficiency techniques, and industry trends are the best ways to cultivate safe, productive job sites. Here are eight steps to improve your construction site’s safety and efficiency.
Make a plan
Planning is a critical element of every construction project. Without one, you won’t know what supplies and equipment you need, what employees need to accomplish, when, and how soon you’ll wrap up construction.
Blueprints are a great start, but they only scratch the surface of what you need to cover in your plan. Great site plans account for the division of labor, management needs, communications standards, site logistics, waste management, safety, and more. Synergistically organizing these elements will help you run a safe, efficient site.
Consider each element of the project, what order it needs to be completed, and what materials, labor, and equipment are required for each component. With that information, you can create a workable timeline to create realistic productivity goals for your job site.
Build flexibility into your timeline, but only a little. Things will come up—they always do—and preparing for the unknown will make your plan agile when disruptions occur.
Use the right tools for the job
No two jobs are the same, and each one will require unique equipment to do well. In your plan, consider what you need to execute the job. Don’t cut corners, and be sure to get the right tool for each part of the process, no matter what.
If costs are a concern, consider investing in versatile equipment, like a semi trailer mover for a forklift. Attachments like these enable a single piece of machinery to do the work of several.
Getting the right tools for the job is also much safer. There’s nothing worse than an injury caused when contractors cut corners and use the wrong machinery for the sake of cost or convenience. Of course, every contractor has done this in a pinch, but the safety risk of using the wrong equipment is high.
Using the right tools also improves efficiency—injuries cause delays that affect productivity. But using inferior tools hurts efficiency, too. For example, let’s say you need an air compressor for a nail gun. Your job really requires a 150 PSI compressor to stay on pace, but you only have a 100 PSI compressor on site. If your team uses the 100 PSI compressor, it will take twice as long to finish the job, and nobody wants that.
The right tools keep your team safe and productivity high. Investing in the best equipment for each job is always worth it!
Only buy high-quality equipment
Having the right tools for the job is essential, but just as critical is investing in high-quality equipment. Old, slipshod machinery is less safe, breaks down often, and usually has a higher long-term cost. Avoid these problems by buying the best equipment the first time.
In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 1,000 on-the-job fatalities in the construction industry. Unfortunately, in many cases, faulty equipment was to blame. New tools and machinery have safer designs and are easier to control, reducing health and safety risks.
Safety concerns aside, better quality equipment is easier to use, too. Poor tools slow down employees and reduce efficiency on the job site. And if old machinery breaks down, employees are left idle, waiting for costly repairs to be completed.
Embrace Technology and Innovation
The opportunities to incorporate technology and innovation into the construction industry are exciting. The digital renaissance has already transformed many construction sites, making them safer and more efficient.
Today, building materials are safer to handle, protective gear keeps employees shielded, workflow applications reduce the amount of labor on the ground, and automation makes sites as efficient as ever. Is your construction company reaping these benefits?
Change is always challenging, especially in an industry as established as construction. Today’s innovations can make tomorrow’s building safer and more efficient, but only if embraced from the top down.
Don’t forget your team
As a construction company, your goal is to build things. So how do you do it? With plans and equipment, of course, but the critical element is labor. Without your people, your business wouldn’t exist.
Everything you do should be with your employees’ best interests at heart. But unfortunately, 67% of construction workers believe standards are higher for productivity than safety. So chances are, two out of three of your employees think you prioritize results over protecting your team.
You must disprove this belief by showing your staff how much you value them and what they do. Provide training, be transparent and fair, order pizza on Fridays, do whatever it takes to support them, and make them feel valued. The goal is to create an environment where people want to work, which is challenging in the construction industry.
This is the right thing to do, and happy employees will take greater care when they do their work and operate safer job sites. Employees with higher job satisfaction are more efficient and productive, too!
One of the ways you can make your employees feel valued while investing in safety and efficiency is by training them. Offering opportunities to learn more about site safety and how to work productively will increase employees’ confidence and self-worth, and make them safer, more productive laborers.
What’s more, studies show people want to know more about safety. Fifty-five percent of employees think they need additional safety training, and a quarter worry about injury daily. Fortunately, safety training is also a sound investment. Every dollar construction companies spend on training saves about $5.
One way you can improve safety and encourage efficiency is through incentives. Offering employees extra time off, bonuses, or even catered lunches for meeting important safety and efficiency milestones is a great way to motivate your workforce.
For example, you could offer a $1,000 bonus for all employees who complete a suite of safety training or get a taco truck on Friday for every injury-free week. These may sound like bribes, but they’re proven tools for cultivating safe, efficient job sites.
Your employees matter, and so do results. Increasing safety and efficiency benefits everyone and will help give your construction company the competitive edge it needs to succeed!