Before we get started, it is critical to understand that the only way your Construction Safety Management System (CSMS) will succeed is to make sure the underlying safety culture includes a real long-term serious commitment and tough-caring leadership by management.
This first module will briefly explore some of the important components that are necessary in an effective safety culture. By the way, if you are interested in developing your CSMS, be sure to take Course 833, Developing a Construction Safety Management System.
Believe it or not, OSHA actually has a pretty good definition for a safety culture. OSHA defines culture as “a combination of an organization's, attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, values, ways of doing things, and other shared characteristics of a particular group of people".
It's important to understand that, from the employer's point of view, the company's corporate culture is something to be managed, but if you ask an employee to define culture, they will likely tell you it's just…
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The success of your company's CSMS depends on the willingness of top management to demonstrate a long term serious commitment to protect every employee from injury and illness on the job.
But how do you get it top management commitment if you don't already have it? Real commitment doesn't just appear out of thin air.
Management commitment to safety will most likely occur to the extent each manager clearly understands the positive benefits derived from their effort. Understanding the benefits will create a strong desire to do what it takes to improve the company's safety culture.
Managers will invest serious time and money into effective safety management by developing safety policies, programs, plans and procedures. They will also display leadership through effective accountability and recognition of behaviors and results.Bottom line: Serious commitment requires serious time and money.
Every day, construction workers, supervisors and managers have many opportunities to communicate and act in ways that demonstrate safety leadership. Unfortunately, these opportunities go unanswered because they are just not seen as real leadership opportunities.
Employers and managers do not understand that the simple expression of tough-caring safety leadership – being tough about safety standards because you care about the employee - can result in enormous benefits. The ability to perceive leadership opportunities improves the company's potential to succeed.
Tough-caring leaders also assume their workers, at all levels of the organization, are good people trying to do the best they can with the skills they have.
Employees, on the other hand, do not always have the physical resources and psychosocial support needed to achieve the kind of results expected of them. Why is that? Because they are not being provided with adequate physical resources (tools, equipment, machinery, materials, etc.) or the education, training, time, and consequences.
Effective leadership can overcome these challenges by providing the resources and training needed for their workers to excel.
Accountability ranks right at the top with management commitment as a critical ingredient in a company's safety and health management system. Why do we behave the way we do in the workplace? Consequences. Why do we take the unsafe shortcut?
Accountability may be thought of as establishing the "obligation to fulfill a task to standard or else." When you are held accountable, your performance is measured against specific criteria and consequences are applied appropriate to the level or quality of performance.
Example: If a builder has built a house for a man and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain. (King Hammurabi of Babylon, 18th Century B.C.)
"The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch." (Michael Armstrong- Former CEO of AT&T, Hughes Electronics, and Comcast)
Management may impose all kinds of safety policies, programs, written plans, directives, rules, training, etc., yet if appropriate application of effective consequences within a culture of accountability does not exist, desired behaviors will not be sustained. If employees do not believe they are going to be held accountable for the decisions they make and the actions they take, you can be sure that any safety effort is ultimately doomed to failure.
Click on the button to see the six elements of an accountability system.
Six important elements should be present in an employer safety accountability system:
If you believe there are weaknesses in your employer's accountability system, make sure to document the behaviors and conditions you see in the workplace that may be pointing to accountability system policies, plans, processes, procedures and practices that are inadequate or missing. You can learn more about accountability systems in Courses 116., 700, or 712.
An effective CSMS will include stated goals and objectives.
First, it's good to initially develop general goals or "wishes" for your construction safety. Take a look at the following general goals that would be included in the CSMS:
Safety objectives are measurable and more specific in terms of results. Here are some examples of operational safety objectives:
You can find out more on constructing safety goals and objectives in Course 833.
Safety policies help to set standards and guidelines for decision-making. They let managers, supervisors and employees make safety decisions with some degree of confidence without having to constantly check with "the boss." Managers, supervisors and workers know they are making decisions that conform to corporate safety policies.
Below are a number of points that would be good to adopt in your companies safety and health policy:
A safety “program” may be thought of as a plan of action to accomplish a safety objective. An effective safety program is designed around the processes, procedures, and practices normally assigned to employees and integrates safety-related decisions and precautions into them. Construction contractors must initiate and maintain such programs as may be necessary to comply with 1926.20(b). See Module 7 for more information on Programs.
On most construction worksites, more than one employer or contractor will be managing some aspect of safety as a result of the responsibilities they have been assigned. It's important to know that on multi-employer worksites more than one employer may be citable for a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard. According to OSHA, there are four employer categories on a multi-employer worksite:
It's also important to remember that any one employer on a construction site may actually meet the criteria in more than one of the above categories.
Controlling employers/contractors assume all obligations under the standards, whether or not they subcontract any of the work [29 CFR 1926.16(b)]2.
To the extent that a subcontractor agrees to perform any part of the contract, he assumes responsibility for complying with the standards with respect to that part [29 CFR 1926.16(c)].
With respect to subcontracted work, the controlling contractor and any subcontractors are deemed to have joint responsibility [29 CFR 1926.16(d)].
Construction companies should designate a person to coordinate, implement, and administer the construction safety management system (CSMS). Responsibilities include:
Construction supervisors must have adequate leadership and management skills to perform effectively. The supervisor's leadership skills are most important in making sure employees willingly comply with safe and healthful work practices, policies, and procedures. The supervisor's management skills are important to make sure employees have the necessary physical resources and psychosocial support to work safely.
It is the supervisor's responsibility to: