May marks Construction Safety Week, an important time for employers and employees in the construction industry to focus on safety and risk prevention. This year's theme is Strong Voices, Safe Choices — a rallying cry for workers to speak up and not be afraid of voicing their concerns when it comes to potentially risky situations.
Construction workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the country, with nearly 1,000 work-related fatalities each year. With skilled labor in high demand and many employers facing a massive shortage, it can be tempting to overlook even minor safety concerns in order to keep production going. But the cost of ignoring safety protocols can be much higher than you realize.
In this blog, we’ll look at the real price of silence in construction safety and how employers can leverage Construction Safety Week to make sure their team is protected.
The True Cost of Workplace Injuries in Construction
Picture a bustling construction site on a hot afternoon. Despite the heat, your crew is powering through their tasks and making great progress. With a deadline looming, no one wants to take a break — until suddenly someone trips over an unmarked hazard and falls off the scaffolding.
This is a fairly common scenario, and unfortunately, it’s one that can have serious consequences, financially and otherwise. There are hundreds of fall fatalities and thousands of fall-related injuries every year, and they have a significant impact on both direct and indirect costs.
Even injuries like sprains and cuts that don’t require hospitalization can add up — the total cost of workplace injuries in the US is estimated to be around $170 billion per year.
The most obvious costs of a workplace injury are direct expenses, which can include:
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Settlement costs for any legal claims
- Medical treatment (including emergency services, hospitalization, and rehab)
- Admin costs for case management or claim investigation
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that employers shell out an astonishing $1 billion each and every week in workers' compensation claims, and the construction industry is among the hardest hit.
There are also many indirect costs associated with workplace injuries that can be harder to calculate. These can include:
- Costs of hiring and training a replacement worker
- Overtime wages for other employees who have to compensate for the missing labor
- HR costs for any related worker relations issues
- Increased insurance premiums
- Lost productivity and delays in project completion
- Damage to equipment and materials due to the accident
- Reputation damage
- Culture issues
The Human Cost of Workplace Injuries
The hefty price tag of workplace injuries isn’t just financial — it also affects your team’s morale and productivity. After an injury, workers may take time off to recover or even decide to leave the job altogether due to fear of further harm. This can cause a huge disruption for employers already struggling with the skilled labor shortage and can put a strain on the team’s morale.
On top of that, workplace injuries can lead to distrust between employees and employers if there is a perception that safety was overlooked for the sake of speed or cost-cutting. If workers don’t feel safe at work, their performance will suffer — so it pays to invest in prevention and foster a culture of safety in the workplace.
The Cost of Silence in Construction Safety
A hard hat that’s slightly cracked or a tattered safety harness might not seem like a big deal at the time — but ignoring even small safety concerns can have serious consequences. And if employees don't feel comfortable voicing their safety concerns, mistakes can go unchecked for way too long.
There are a number of reasons why workers remain silent in the face of potential safety hazards including:
- Fear of retaliation from their employer
- Lack of confidence in their ability to identify safety hazards
- Lack of trust in leadership to take action
- No understanding of their own rights under OSHA regulations
This is why this year’s Construction Safety Week theme - Strong Voices, Safe Choices - is so important. It encourages each and every worker to speak up when they notice a potential hazard and empowers employers to listen and take action accordingly.
But how do you get your team to open up?
Empowering Workers to Speak Up About Safety Hazards
When it comes to construction safety, everyone on the job site has a part to play. Employers need to provide a safe work environment, but employees also need to speak up when they see potential hazards.
Empowering workers to speak up about safety concerns is the only way to ensure that all hazards are caught and addressed before they become a problem. Here are a few tips for creating an open dialogue and encouraging your team to get vocal about safety hazards:
- Train your employees to identify and report safety hazards
- Regularly discuss safety topics
- Provide open communication channels where workers can easily report safety hazards.
- Offer anonymous reporting options to create a safe reporting environment
- Encourage workers to report safety hazards and recognize those who do
- Address safety concerns in a timely manner to show your commitment to the well-being of your team
By taking these practical steps, you're not only preventing workplace injuries, but you're also creating an environment where your team feels heard and valued. And when employees feel safe and appreciated, they're more likely to be engaged and productive. Plus, prioritizing safety can also help you stand out in a competitive industry.
But it's not enough to simply implement these measures and hope for the best. Enhanced employee communication is key to maintaining a safe work environment, and that's where TeamEngine can help.
With tools like text message surveys, you can easily check-in and make sure your team feels safe and supported. By empowering workers to speak up about safety hazards, you're investing in the success of your business and the health of your employees. Try out these communication features with a free trial of Team Engine.