Supervisor Influence Matters in Construction Safety

February 21, 2020

The 2020 Safety Management in the Construction Industry SmartMarket Report stresses that participation by jobsite workers and supervisors is crucial to the success of safety initiatives on the job. The report, which was published by Dodge Data & Analytics, surveyed contractors to compile input from industry professionals to outline which safety initiatives are successful on jobsites.

Four Essential Factors

The report breaks out four essential factors that support a successful safety program, as represented by the percentage of respondents who selected the most valued initiatives in terms of safety:

  • Job-site worker involvement rated the highest at 84 percent
  • Strong safety leadership abilities in supervisors came in a strong second at 83 percent
  • Regular safety meetings with job-site workers and supervisors was also at 82 percent
  • Ongoing access to safety training for supervisors and job-site workers was at 77 percent

The report also indicated that other safety initiatives are important, but they ranked much lower than the top four. These safety factors include:

  • Regular safety audits at 67 percent
  • Staff positions devoted to safety at 61 percent
  • Regular safety meetings among staff at the corporate level at 62 percent

On-Site Safety Leadership

The survey reported that 73 percent of companies delivered safety training through their supervisors and foremen, far fewer than those who used in-house trainers. This necessitates adequate safety leadership training for supervisors and foremen who will in turn provide on-site training for their teams. The Foundations for Safety Leadership training module is available for this purpose, but the survey indicates that companies are not taking full advantage of this resource.

Business Benefits

The report concluded that respondents were seeing benefits of investing in safety management, with 69 percent saying that it allowed them to attract new work and 57 percent saying that it helped with staff retention.

The report also identified areas that called for improved measures in safety policies, company practices, and training programs. Site-specific initiatives for safety and health plans ranked high, as did site-specific training. However, these initiatives were underutilized in small companies with fewer than 20 employees.

Two-thirds of companies urged employees to report worksite hazards and only half of companies surveyed requested worker input regarding safety conditions. Only 39 percent of workers were involved in safety planning at responding companies. Opportunities for online training are expected to be utilized, yet reports of the employment of such training methods dropped since the 2017 survey.

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