In business and in life, safety isn't always the first thing on our minds. For most of us in business, injury to ourselves or an employee is a worst case scenario which doesn't require much thought.
The building and job site landscape looks very different to what it did even 10 years ago in Australia. Modern job sites where government legislation is continually been developed in an attempt to keep us all safe, safety and injury prevention is no longer something we should be putting on the back burner. It doesn't take many serious injuries to put a small business under serious financial stress.
Find out the most common ways to get hurt on a job site here
Most Tradesmen believe that they've got to choose between job site safety and getting a job finished on time and in turn make a dollar. This ''old-school'' mindset is outdated just wrong.
Below are 7 ways that tradesmen and anyone on a job site can use to reduce the risk of injury without costing a fortune:
1. Hire the right people. There are a million reasons why you might end up with the wrong employee. So when hiring go into the process with a roadmap and give yourself the best chance. Oh, whats that? It got crazy busy and you needed someone? Well taking your time and finding the right person is going to limit the chance of hiring an incompetent employee who is risk/injury prone. Do not make the ''quick hire.'' Hire "safe"
2. Train your staff. As Aussies, especially Australian tradesmen, we just assume. We assume people know something because we ''think'' its common sense. Well I'll let you in on a little secret. Common sense IS NOT common. Even a super skilled tradesmen with experience should be given clear instruction to set expectations about how a job is to be completed. If you know a safer way to complete a task, show them. Park the egos... Its not a better way, its a ''safer way.''
3. Demand safe work practices. Go into every job site and every situation in business with the mindset that there is always time to get a job done safely and it is never okay to work in an unsafe environment. This comes from the top down. (Yes you, boss) If you want your employees to choose safety over productivity then you've got to put your money where your mouth is.
4. Provide the right tools and equipment. Whats the old saying? "A bad tradesmen blames his tools?" Well guess what? A good tradesmen can hurt themselves with the wrong ones, or worse yet, faulty ones. Don't cut corners on things like steel-toed boots or safety glasses. The cost is next to nothing compared to the drama of having Work Safe go through you after someone you employ looses their toe.
5. Demonstrate that you value worker safety. This is directly linked to No. 3. You might preach a culture of safety, but when the chips are down and you need the job done by whatever means necessary you might without realising it be putting your employees at risk in an environment that devalues safety. If a worker comes to you with an idea to improve safety, you should seriously sit up and listen. It means safety is at the forefront of their mind and guess what? Remember No. 1?
6. Look for ways to improve safety. Just as its required to have Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) on job sites now, always seek ways to eliminate risk, even outside these documents. The guys on site are going to be the best people to extract this information out of so figure a way to get it. Brainstorming anyone?
7. Safety is not infinite. There is a misconception that a job site is either ''safe'' or ''unsafe'' when in truth its a scale. It's all relative. No job site is without risk and in turn no job site is completely unsafe.
Safety is not something that should be negotiable. There isn't going to be a quick fix, however it's a lot of little things you can implement to help eliminate senseless risk. Employers need to watch out for cowboys who throw caution to the wind because in a lot of cases they don't hurt themselves, it is those around them. Safety culture starts at the top, so man up and show your employees it's a serious subject.