The ability of a construction crew to be alert and engaged is key to their safety and productivity on the jobsite. The ability to hear and convey critical information around loud equipment and tools keeps workers responsive and tuned into what’s happening around them. Here are some best practices to ensure your crew remains alert and at their best.
START WITH THE MORNING HUDDLE
Take ten minutes to start the day off with a quick team meeting to get focused. It’s a great way to wrap your head around your workday and get on the same page with the rest of the crew.
Fight the urge to let your brain wander. Sure, if you’re doing the same basic job as yesterday and all of last week, this can feel like a complete waste of time. But this is your chance to hear any changes or updates that could impact your work area. It’s the little tidbits of information – like materials or equipment that are being relocated to your side of the building – that you may not hear from any other sources. Good to know. Now you have a heads-up that there will be more traffic around to watch out for.
Keep the meeting short and to the point, with information strictly relevant to the group. If you run into a topic that needs to go long, schedule another time. The goal here is to get everyone mentally prepared for their shift and get moving.
SPEAK UP FOR SAFETY
When you’re working with others on a project, keep your brain engaged and alert to activities that are happening around you. Be ready to use your voice to notify others if you see a dangerous situation about to unfold. Take lifts and cranes, for example. Whether it’s a small piece of equipment like a scissor lift or a larger tower crane, having another set of eyes on the operation can help avoid an accident. For instance, here are some tips derived from OSHA’s compliance guide for cranes and derricks in construction:
- Make sure the ground is level
- Only operate if you’re assigned and qualified
- Perform an inspection before use
- Keep loads within capacity according to the load chart and specs
- For cranes, maintain a separate lift zone that is away from workers below
These seem obvious, right? But accidents happen when people overlook the basics. Your quick communication can alert others to a critical situation.
INCLUDE OTHERS TO BOOST EFFECTIVENESS
We’re all focused on getting the job done and are dedicated to overcoming obstacles that stand in our way. But when you’re up against a physical activity that’s at or above your ability, ask for help. Determination is good but getting hurt is bad. Overexertion, including lifting injuries that were serious enough to result in time off work accounted for 21% of state funded claims from 2009-2013.
Sometimes it’s another perspective you need, and not a second pair of hands. Clarification and input on the best way to approach a unique weld or concrete finishing technique gets you closer to getting it done right. Rework is much costlier than taking a few minutes to make sure you’re on the same page.
KEEP CRITICAL INFORMATION SIMPLE
“The more a man says the less he’s understood,” said Abraham Lincoln. When you’ve got a message for someone, keep it timely and on-point to limit misunderstandings and confusion.
Just like if you’re marking a drop zone with a sign for a materials delivery, go with fewer words and make them larger. Can you imagine a sign that says, “Hey, would you please drop the 50’ I-beams at this location facing up”? No way. You want to get the attention of a driver who’s looking for information so they can quickly drop the steel and go. Also true when you’re relaying measurements or coordinating heavy equipment maneuvers. Being specific and consistent is best. It’s just easier on the brain.
Also, avoid slang in critical communications that may be mistaken for something different. Depending on the crew, you may have a few that aren’t familiar with your team’s jargon.
ASSUME NOTHING AND VERIFY EVERYTHING
Consider this: you shout out an order as you pass a workman. He probably heard you. But what if he didn’t? Take the time to check. “Hey Jim, you get that?” If you’re not convinced he heard the whole message, ask him to repeat it back to be sure. After all, “go” and “don’t go” mean two totally different things.
How many hours do you spend each month resolving an issue with someone on your project? Isn’t it usually about a difference in interpretation that wasn’t uncovered right away? If you could avoid even a few of those hours with an open line of communication with stakeholders, the total cost over the length of the project could be huge.
THE SUM OF IT
Construction includes a wide range of skilled workers collaborating and working towards a common goal. It’s impressive, really. The ability to hear others clearly and to be heard as well puts everyone on the same page and gets the project done on time and on budget. Find out more about how Sonetics Wireless Headsets can improve your crew’s communication.