While there are a multitude of measures that determine project success, safety is a primary factor. Construction consistently ranks among the most hazardous industries due to frequent fatal and life-altering incidents among its workers, raising the importance of safety to an even higher level.

To learn more about this issue and what PMA is doing to mitigate it, we talked to Reed Johnson and Chad Crittenden about their experience with safety in construction. With roles ranging from oversight and inspection to owner’s project manager, they bring valuable experience and insight surrounding the type of work being performed onsite and the risks that come with it.

All accidents are avoidable, as Reed made clear from the start of his discussion. If everyone on the worksite follows protocol and considers the stakes of their actions, then the number of injuries and fatalities can be zero. While he holds this belief, he also thinks the greatest danger to workers is their own complacency. Because this is something they do every day, many workers forget the risks they are dealing with or think they can push the limits of safety protocol. This is oftentimes the root cause of many injuries onsite.

The majority of these injuries can be attributed to slips and falls. According to Chad, apart from overconfidence in precarious situations, some safety regulations are often ignored completely. This results in environments where workers are put in physically unsafe situations, such as open or unsound railings or even going beyond the 6-foot untethered height restriction.

Because these risks are present on every worksite, increasing safety for construction workers is critical. One of the primary ways is through personal protective equipment (PPE) and technology. In terms of PPE, Chad has seen many worksites adopt the use of Type II hard hats with side impact protection. These offer a wider range of protection from impacts than traditional hard hats, as well as being more water resistant, slow to burn, and insulated against electric shocks.

While PPE reduces the impact of risks, new technology can help eliminate the risk altogether. Reed has noticed an increase in the use of drones to work in particularly high or dangerous places, reducing the number of workers that need to be put in those positions. With the progression of this technology, he is hopeful that worksites will be able to make wiser choices about the types of jobs they are having people do.

Safety Week in Construction

When human life is at stake, these implementations alone aren’t enough for safety. A safe worksite begins from the top down. Reed specifies that any management or stakeholders visiting the worksite must comply with safety standards before entering. This is not only for their own safety, but to lead by example. As an owner’s project manager, Chad echoed this sentiment, because while he cannot directly enforce safety protocol, he is responsible for communicating any violations with the construction manager or general contractor. One of the jobs of a contractor is to be at the forefront of safety improvements, often implementing them prior to any other regulatory change. Because of this, having a clear line of communication with the contractor is key for any management role.

Ultimately, prioritizing safety above all else is paramount in the construction industry. Everyone, whether they’re a worker on the ground or a manager overseeing operations, must recognize the importance of adhering to safety protocols. At PMA, we firmly believe that completing a project safely is synonymous with high-quality work. As we continue to navigate construction safety challenges, we remain committed to fostering a culture where the well-being of every worker is the top priority. Together, we can make the construction industry a safer and more rewarding environment for all.

Project Insights Podcast

Listen to our latest episode of Project Insights as hosts Zoe Mervine and Alex Worth delve into the intricacies of construction safety with PMA Detroit’s Reed Johnson. Gain valuable insights from Reed’s extensive experience as he shares stories from the worksite, identifies major risks, and discusses strategies for enhancing safety standards. Join us in commemorating Construction Safety Week (May 6 – 10, 2024) and discover how you can make the industry safer.

Insights Article

Missed our previous insights on construction safety? Explore our comprehensive article from last year, highlighting the crucial role of project managers in ensuring safety on the jobsite. Learn about the proactive measures and responsibilities necessary to mitigate risks and prioritize the well-being of every worker.