by Robert Schulze
In the fast paced and dynamic world of construction, a project’s success can be heavily dependent on the fundamental values adopted by the organization as the foundation of their culture. Quite often we see an organization’s core values consist of important, yet slightly clichéd, components such as integrity, boldness, honesty, trustworthiness, accountability, etc., all of which are integral values. However, there has been a positive shift in focus, gradually and steadily evolving over the years when it comes to integrating a safety culture within the core values throughout the Construction Industry as a whole. This shift has not only resulted in lower fatality rates, less work-related injuries, and increased morale among workers, but also lower project costs and less time lost from delays and unplanned fees (both direct and indirect). It’s no surprise that the purpose of safety and creating a strong safety culture has spread like wildfire throughout the Construction Industry.
A few benefits of a safety culture that most can agree to be of value include:
- Going home each day in the same physical condition in which you arrived at work.
- Working in an environment where your employer and the other employees working around you all share a common belief that your safety and wellbeing is valuable.
- Working for a company able to provide employment opportunities based on established track records within the industry for providing projects on time and within budget as a direct result of maintaining a safe work environment.
So how can you contribute to the creation of a strong safety culture at your workplace? Or maybe you work in an environment where safety culture has a presence, but you would like to continue finding ways for improvement. It’s important to remember that the key to a strong culture of safety is that the buy in and the commitment of the team requires the buy in and commitment from management if you hope for things to improve.
Based on my experiences, I have found that it can be difficult to get the buy in and commitment at all levels without educating the stakeholders not only on the benefits of safety, but also on what’s at stake if safety is ignored. One important educational resource is the OSHA Training Institute at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District. The OTIEC offers in-depth classes, certificate programs, and short 1 day topic specific trainings to help you and others at all levels in your organization strengthen your knowledge of workplace safety.
For aspiring and/or seasoned construction professionals, OSHA #510-OSHA Standards for the Construction Industry is a great place to start. The 4-day course is intended to provide supervisors and other employees with a solid foundation in the use of Federal OSHA Construction standards and regulations to supplement an ongoing safety and health program. Participants who complete this course will have an understanding and ability to define construction terms, policies and procedures found in OSHA Construction standards and identify and help prevent common hazards which can occur on construction worksites (see full OSHA #510 course description).
Whether you are new to the industry or a highly experienced professional, I would like to personally invite you to join me and the rest of the OTIEC team at upcoming classes. We all have something to contribute, and together we can help educate one another. OSHA’s mission is to assure (protect) the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. Let’s work together to continue strengthening the safety culture within the Construction Industry and all work environments across the U.S. for years to come.
Robert Schulze is the owner of Optimum Inspections & Consulting, Inc., where he is a Contract Inspector of Record for healthcare construction projects throughout Northern California. He holds a BA from CSU, Stanislaus, a Post Graduate Certificate in Project Management from UC Berkeley, and numerous professional certifications, including OSHPD (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) Class A Certified Hospital Inspector, IFC (International Firestop Council) Firestop Inspector Premier Certificate, ICC (International Code Council) Certified Combination Commercial Building Inspector, ICC Certified Master of Special Inspection, and Certified Safety & Health Official Certificates (CHSO) in both Construction and General Industries. With his training, education and extensive background and experience in the Construction Industry, it was a natural progression to serve as a trainer/instructor to help strengthen the Construction Safety Industry. Robert joined the OSHA Training Institute Education Center as a part time instructor in 2017, providing instruction on a range of topics.