For a long time, it has been recognised that construction is a high-risk industry or at least has high risk components to it. For that reason, the construction industry is often targeted in news media and increasingly in social media.
So, to answer the question “What is the purpose of construction site safety?” we first need to understand the consequences of not having correct site safety.
- People get hurt. Without the proper safety procedures and protocols, we expose ourselves and our employees to harm. In the worst cases, death.
- Assuming the worst-case scenario, that is someone has died in your workplace this means a chain of events is about to unfold.
- The site is closed. In some cases, this could be for up to 4 weeks. This is for scene preservation while an investigation is undertaken and to ensure there can’t be a reoccurrence or similar incident.
- Sub-contractors, regardless of their involvement, are suspended from site. This can have a knock-on effect to the subcontractor’s employees.
- Once the site investigation is concluded a case will be bought before the coroners’ court. This can determine if criminal charges will be laid against anyone.
- While this is going on the company is trying to maintain its reputation. Everyday there is new information released to the press. Social media explodes with inaccurate information.
- Counsellors are engaged to assist those who feel traumatised by the event, and its not just those who witnessed it. There is always far reaching emotional distress for people who feel a connection to a victim.
- It should be noted that of all the companies who experience a workplace death only 16% will last the next two years and only 4% will survive past five years.
- The financial cost is astronomical. And insurance doesn’t cover everything. And the insurance company will try to recover at least some of those costs over the next five to eight years by raising your premiums to a rate so high you can no longer compete on the open market.
That is just a very brief look at what can and does happen following a death in the workplace. We have not even scratched the surface of the emotional trauma that family, friends, and colleagues have been put through.
Now, back to the original question, what is the purpose of construction site safety?
Put simply, safety is there as a protection mechanism. Protection for people, property, livelihoods, and business. The long term affects of poor safety practices could mean the closure of a company putting teams of people on the unemployment queue which has its own set of problems.
So next time when you hear someone talking badly about “all that terrible safety stuff” remember it not a waste of time, it is a crucial element in the longevity of a company. It might just save you in the short term but in the long term it might save your job.