Safety isn’t just a set of protocols—it’s also a mindset. Being well informed about risks and best practices and being generally mindful of safety are big parts of having a safer perspective. But misinformation and myths can work against your ability to stay safe at the job site, and to help those around you be at less risk too. So, we thought we’d take a quick look at some pervasive construction site safety myths.
It’s important to recognize them for what they are, because the following construction site safety myths can make people less aware and proactive about creating the safest possible environment. And when you’re done looking them over, we have lots of other construction site safety content you can read.
Common Construction Safety Misconceptions
- Myth: Safety is management’s responsibility. Yes, a construction company’s management has many responsibilities for keeping the entire workforce safe. But everyone contributes to safety on the job, and anyone can jeopardize it for themselves and others. It’s up to each individual to follow safety rules, to be careful, to pay attention, to speak up about potential safety hazards, and to otherwise act responsibly.
- Myth: Meeting OSHA standards is enough to keep everyone safe. The reality is that OSHA rules are the minimum of what should be done for accident prevention and to keep workers safe. OSHA itself even says its regulations are the absolute minimum. You must, of course, meet all OSHA standards, but they should be exceeded for increased safety.
- Myth: Accidents just happen. After all, that’s what accidents are, right? Wrong. You can’t prevent every accident, but there are lots of ways to reduce the risk of accidents. Even though they seem random, accidents have causes—usually a specific collection of circumstances and/or series of events. Safety planning and prevention helps stop these from culminating in accidents that cause injuries and damage. Most mishaps at construction sites are in fact preventable.
- Myth: Personal protective equipment does enough to keep workers safe. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential. But really, it’s the last line of defense, preventing or reducing injury once an accident occurs. For example, a hardhat can prevent serious injury if an item falls off scaffolding, but it does nothing to prevent items from falling off scaffolding. Even with everyone on site properly using PPE, it’s still important to minimize the risk of accidents.
- Myth: Workers just need safety training when they’re hired. Safety training should be ongoing. There’s too much to cover in a session or two at the start of employment. Plus, people forget things over time. Ongoing training reinforces a culture of safety and the lessons, and it helps prevent workers from becoming complacent about safety. Also, project-specific safety plans should be developed and shared with everyone involved.
- Myth: Incentive programs are a great way to promote safety. Incentives like offering employees rewards for certain periods of time without accidents or injuries can be helpful, but they can just as easily prevent reporting of problems as they can prevent problems themselves. And the same goes for instating consequences for accidents. If you want to make good use of incentives and positive reinforcement, offer it for things like attending safety meetings and reporting unsafe conditions, potential hazards, and safety rule violations.