6 Ways PMs and CMs Promote Safety on Projects
Project Managers (PMs) and Construction Managers (CMs) provide safety leadership on their projects when they promote safety in these six ways:
1. Learn the company’s health and safety program – policies, procedures, and people
Spend some time when you first join a company meeting the safety professionals and learning the company’s health and safety policies and procedures. It is recommended that you devote a day or two of learning, beyond OSHA required training topics, to orient yourself to the company’s health and safety program. If something does not make sense to you, ask questions.
When you are on a project site, you will need to lead from a base of knowledge. Your credibility as a safety leader will be greatly enhanced if you can confidently reference the company’s health and safety policies and procedures.
Learning is an on-going process. Before the project kickoff and before the start of each phase of a project, review the relevant safety procedures. In addition, set aside time on a weekly basis to expand your knowledge and skills in safety best practices.
2. Plan for safety
Safe work is a result of careful planning. Create a project specific safety plan that, at a minimum, identifies the hazards on a project and the steps taken to mitigate those hazards, includes an emergency response plan, and outlines training requirements for people working on the project.
Build safety planning, communication, and on-the-job training activities into the project work breakdown structure, schedule, and budget. Make safety an integral part of project success.
Engage the field crews in preparing detailed job hazard assessments to plan how to perform a task safely before performing a task. Use previously prepared job hazard assessments as a starting point.
3. Communicate safety
PMs and CMs spend at least 80% of their time on communication. Dedicate a significant portion of this communication time to providing clear and specific guidance on expectations for safe work practices and behaviors.
Prepare relevant and timely talking points for safety meetings, safety briefings, and safety moments. Relate talking points to current work activities, recent safety observations or events, and applicable safety procedures. Recognize and re-enforce positive work behaviors.
Promote creation of visual aids for the workplace to promote safety. Do not merely rely on standard OSHA posters. Tap into the creativity of your field crews for ideas on visual reminders.
4. Demonstrate safe work practices
Project team members look to PMs and CMs to set the tone for safety on a project. Your actions speak louder than words. Lead by example. For instance:
When driving around the work site, wear a seatbelt, do not talk or text on your phone, and follow the speed limits.
Wear appropriate personal protective gear and respect caution tape and exclusion zones
5. Re-enforce employee safe work practices
Make it a daily habit to perform routine safety walks to observe safe work practices and behaviors. Review job hazard assessments and provide feedback on positive aspects and areas for improvement.
Provide timely positive recognition and rewards for desired safe work practices and behaviors. Ideally provide immediate feedback at the job site where the behavior is recognized.
Stop work and provide immediate feedback and on-the-job coaching to correct unsafe work practices and behaviors. Provide the feedback individually or to the affected crew, rather than embarrassing the individual or crew in front of the project team.
6. Provide feedback to safety program on lessons learned
Building a safe work culture is a continuous improvement process that builds on lessons learned. Promote documentation of near misses and safety observations. Share these experiences to prevent future injuries.
Provide updated job hazard assessments. Encourage the field crews to mark up the job hazard assessments in the field based on field experiences.
Share talking points developed for safety meetings, safety briefings, and safety moments. This can become a knowledge base for use on future projects and by other PMs and CMs.
Safety is everyone's responsibility. By following these six best practices, PMs and CMs promote safe work behaviors on their projects.