Safety is one of the biggest concerns on any construction project and taking regular safety walks is important to improving site safety. When we step out of the trailer it is extremely easy to get distracted by the many “fires” that are happening on the jobsite but sometimes we need to just focus on safety. It can be difficult to remove yourself from the commotion of the work but it is important to take a step back and to see the big picture. Taking a dedicated safety walk looking for specific items can greatly reduce the risk of injury on the jobsite.
What to ask yourself before you begin your walk
Whenever you are getting ready to leave the trailer or office and head into the field start by asking yourself a few of these questions to get yourself in the right state of mind.
- What am i going to do today to make the jobsite safer?
- Am I setting a good example by wearing appropriate PPE and exhibiting good safe practices?
- What is happening on the jobsite today that I should pay close attention to?
- Have I talked to other people on the team about specific people or things I should be on the lookout for?
- Do I have a way to document the things I see while I am on my walk?
These simple questions can prepare you for a proper safety walk. Getting out the door and making time for the walk is the biggest challenge. Once you are on the site it gets a lot easier.
What to ask yourself as you are walking the site
As you walk the site there will be lots of activity and distractions but staying focused is key. As many of us have experienced performing a thorough safety walk can be prolonged by many variables. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to keep you on task and to ensure that you make the most out of your walk.
- Am I keeping in mind OSHA’s “Focus Four”
- What is different from the last time I walked the site? You can focus more attention there
- Am I stopping and talking to workers to ask them about how they feel about the working conditions?
- How can I educate employees about unsafe working conditions when I see them?
- How can I catch people doing things right? And thank them?
Each of these questions will help keep you on track to identify and educate employees about unsafe conditions. You will notice that the last three focus on the workers and interacting with them. Walking a site and just taking notes does not build a safety culture that will last. Engaging with employees and expressing to them that you have their back and are looking out for them goes a long way. This also encourages others to think the same way as they walk the site.
Likely we all wish we had more time to walk the site and ensure that everyone was safe but there is a lot of tasks to get done. Keeping these questions in mind even when not on a safety walk can contribute to a great safety culture and will reduce the risk of incident on your projects.