How to make your site safer for plant operation
On average, 7 people die every year as a result of accidents involving heavy vehicle or plant on construction sites.
Are you committed to making your site safer for plant operation? Are you looking for practical ways to reduce accidents? Follow our best practice guidelines and tips to make your site safer for the whole team.
1 – Have strong processes to keep everyone informed and committed
If you’re attempting to implement a site-wide commitment to safety, you have to have the right processes to get the message through. For example, there needs to be an educational drive to inform the whole team of changes to regulations or procedures.
At Lynch, we call this process the ‘Toolbox Talk’: The health and safety manager receives an email brief, which will be passed to the department managers. They, in turn, brief operators and their teams. Text messages and emails direct staff to websites or their supervisor, enabling them to learn more.
We regularly speak to teams on the ground to confirm that the message has got through, as it can sometimes fail to filter down the chain. This is also an effective way of getting to know each other, changing attitudes across your site, and making sure that everyone is working towards a common goal.
2 – Consider segregation and make sure your site is tidy and well run
Accidents happen when people and machinery are in places they shouldn’t be. One way to deal with this threat is to implement segregation across your site. That way, you’ll drastically reduce the risk of ground staff coming into contact with heavy plant machinery.
Keeping your site tidy at all times is also an effective measure that goes hand in hand with ensuring that sloppy work doesn’t occur. For example, operators should always be with plant, rather than operating it remotely.
3 – Strike the right balance when using technological innovation
There’s definitely a place for technological innovation when it comes to making sites safer. For example, we’ve been installing 360° cameras on all heavy plant since April 2014, to provide the operator with all round visibility.
Other technological advances include CAT scanners fitted to excavators to help see below the surface, and automatic cut-off devices and panic buttons.
However, an over reliance on technology can lead to complacency, by taking away from the proactive diligence of your team. The answer? You need to strike a balance between the two. It’s about having the right people with the appropriate technology to assist them.
4 – Never cut corners, even when deadlines are tight
When deadlines are tight, people have a natural tendency to rush and cut corners. When those deadlines involve plant, there’s a far higher risk of accidents happening, as this tends to be when construction workers fail to take responsibility and stop working as a team.
In the oil industry, some companies don’t let workers rush. They allow for a lengthier lead-time, in order for the job to be completed safely. So, for example, rather than forcing through 12 large deliveries, they only allow 5.
This mentality is beginning to filter its way into the construction industry. However, it needs to become more established for real change to be seen. Commit your site to it by refusing to allow any member of your team to rush a job, and if needed, build in the additional time needed to up-front costs and timings.
5 – Instil strong communication and trust between all site workers
Effective communication between plant operators and other site workers is crucial, if you’re trying to achieve zero accidents. It comes down to instilling trust and respect amongst all your team. Once everyone recognises each other as individuals, taking responsibility becomes more than just complying with regulations.
It becomes about ensuring lives aren’t lost.
A prime example: If you’re standing in close proximity to a machine that’s in operation, you’re putting yourself in immediate danger, unless you’ve confirmed that the plant operator is aware of your presence.
Our Thumbs Up campaign tackles this problem head on. When you give a thumbs up, you’re asking permission to enter the plant operator’s work zone, and recognising the risk. As part of the campaign, we carry out practical on site training sessions for all site workers.
6 – Take pride in providing a safe working environment and empower everyone to take responsibility for site safety
Construction sites have a legal obligation to educate their workers. However, particularly in the last 5 years, some companies are also actively enforcing health and safety behind the scenes. Not only do they feel a duty to provide a safe working environment, but they take pride in doing so. However, to achieve zero accidents across all sites, this needs to become the norm rather than the exception.
If you want to make your site safe, you need to bring your whole team on board. From banksmen to site engineers and cleaners to managers, everyone needs to work together to create and maintain a safe working environment.
In other words, taking responsibility for health and safety has to become a way of life. You need a culture where everyone is committed to getting themselves and their colleagues home safely at the end of each working day.
Big steps have been taken, but there’s still a long way to go. And it’s up to all of us to make sure we have the passion, commitment and expertise to get there.