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Importance of Construction Site Safety

A safe jobsite is one of the most important responsibilities of a construction project manager. Aside from the obvious ethical concerns of keeping workers injury-free, there are significant costs associated with an unsafe worksite. As a manager, you can make a real difference in this critical area.

21% of all private industry deaths are in construction | Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016

How Do You Manage for Site Safety?

First and foremost, a construction project manager must provide strong leadership. When managing a construction site, you must have your crew’s ear. They must understand your role and that you are actively working to keep them safe. Worker safety should be a priority throughout any construction firm, regardless of its size. Managing a team that embodies this concept will be beneficial to the organization as a whole.

According to OSHA’s report “Recommended Practices for Safety & Health Programs in Construction,” management is responsible for providing the leadership and resources needed to implement effective safety and health programs.

The OSHA report says management leadership means that business owners, managers and supervisors:

  • Make worker safety and health a core organizational value.
  • Are fully committed to eliminating hazards, protecting workers, and continuously improving safety and health on job sites.
  • Provide sufficient resources to implement and maintain the safety and health program.
  • Visibly demonstrate and communicate their safety and health commitment to workers and others.
  • Set an example through their own actions.

This highlights only a few of the aspects of management leadership in safety and health.

Why Is Construction Site Safety Important?

The construction industry is one the most dangerous in terms of workplace fatalities. As a manager in this line of work, you have an obligation to understand the risks and keep workers safe on the job.

Businesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses—expenditures that come straight out of company profits... | —U.S. Department of Labor

Constructive Executive says that, because construction site accidents are considered common, there is a great deal of responsibility to maintain a safe worksite and to take care of their workers. Some of the most common hazards are:

  • Falls from height.
  • Falling objects.
  • Exposure to dangerous substances.
  • Dust inhalation.
  • Working in confined spaces.
  • Motor vehicle accidents.

Construction safety is also important due to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA). Under this act, workers in the U.S. have a right to a safe workplace. OSHA also requires employers to provide sufficient training, as well, to ensure worksite safety. Along with this comes the consequences of violating these laws — costly lawsuits, for example.

What Are the Potential Costs?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Businesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses — expenditures that come straight out of company profits. But workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent.” Losses like that (or savings) could be the difference between a profitable business and one that has to close its doors.

63.7% of construction-related deaths are caused by the 'Fatal Four'

Because so many of these deaths and injuries were in the construction industry, the costs are in the millions. The report shows 63.7 percent of construction-related fatalities were caused by the “Fatal Four” — falls, struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between. An estimated 631 lives would be saved with the elimination of the Fatal Four.

Aside from the direct costs such as injury or death, there are also indirect costs that can severely hurt the organization. OSHA lists these potential indirect costs:

  • Time lost due to stoppages and investigations.
  • Training and other costs associated with replacing injured workers.
  • Loss or damage to material, machinery and property.

The article also states that these indirect costs have been estimated to be at least 2.7 times the direct costs. For example, the unnecessary stress of a preventable workplace injury often leads to ongoing stress, which can trigger seemingly unrelated physical and mental health issues. These stressful situations often create a high level of pressure that may cause serious damage to personal relationships and families — all of which have serious financial impact on individuals, companies and governments.

What Skills Do You Need to Manage a Construction Site?

Employees need to be led by someone who has an in-depth knowledge of the construction industry. Successful construction managers have the following skills:

  • Decision-making.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Leadership and supervising.
  • Planning and scheduling.
  • Cost estimating and analysis.
  • Understanding of OSHA and other legal practices.

Possessing these skills and this knowledge will prove to be useful in managing a profitable and successful firm or project as well as a safe work site for all employees.

How Can I Learn More About Construction Management?

For those interested in learning more about how to become a construction project manager and the skills needed to be successful in that role, Lamar University offers an online Master of Business Administration in Construction Project Management program. This online MBA program includes valuable courses such as Construction Project Management, in which students gain the knowledge needed to manage complex projects in the building industry. Beyond project management skills, the course material delves into legal practices, planning and scheduling, analysis, and of course, workplace safety.

This specialized MBA program also includes an optional specialization course called Construction Safety Management where students can study safety standards and procedures, OSHA requirements and the history of safety in the construction industry.

Earning an MBA in Construction Project Management from Lamar University requires completing eight core MBA courses and four specialization courses for a total 12 courses or 36 credit hours. Each course runs for eight weeks.

This degree prepares business leaders to run projects that meet goals on both national and international scales, all the while keeping their workers safe.

Learn more about Lamar University’s online MBA in Construction Project Management program.


OSHA: Recommended Practices for Safety & Health Programs in Construction

Construction Executive: The Importance of Safety Training in Construction

OSHA: Safety and Health Add Value

OSHA: Commonly Used Statistic

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