Uncompromising Safety – Managing Job Sites for Incident-Free Projects

By Annie McIlwain, District Manager of Mississippi Operations & Sr. Engineer

On the jobsite, danger is clever. Risks are hiding everywhere—in the form of wet tarps, freshly excavated trenches, buried utility lines. Anticipating danger requires an exhaustive attention to detail and a comprehensive plan for action just in case an emergency situation slips through the cracks. 

But managing subcontractors (or a large team of any type) can pose different challenges altogether. How do you communicate risks, emergency plans, and areas of high danger in such a way that everyone knows exactly what to do when someone’s life is on the line? In life or death situations, any confusion can tip the scales beyond your favor.

As an ENR top 200 environmental firm, PPM Consultants knows the intricacies of safely managing personnel across a busy worksite. Danger may be clever, but with the right foresight, the right plan, and an attitude to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of maximum safety, we can be even more clever than the risks that await us. 

More dangers are lurking on your jobsite than just trips, slips, and falls. To formulate a professional plan, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Assess the Risks (All of Them)

When searching for risks, we tend to think along certain lines inspired by our scale. That is: we think of human bodies moving through space and calculate the risks relative to that body (slips, trips, falls). We might go beyond our own scale to think about building materials and vehicles, but sometimes we stop short after that.

While the movement of personnel can, and often does, lead to emergency situations, in order to catch as many of the potential hazards as possible, we have to think in 3-dimensions. This includes the movement of earth—how trenches behave when cut into literal dirt. We also need to think about the air above our heads and the ground beneath our feet.

Utility lines (gas, power, water), environmental hazards (contaminants, poor air quality, asbestos), and even noise (vibrations, engines, drilling) should all be accounted for when determining the comfort, focus, and safety of your jobsite personnel (to name only a few). To find as many risks as possible, you should calibrate your perspective to include the physical jobsite beyond the human scale.

Make a Plan (Unique to the Jobsite)

The jobsite travels—sometimes near, sometimes far. Wherever the job is, that’s where we go. But our jobs can take us to remote areas surrounded by dense vegetation, skinny, one-lane roads, and elsewhere far beyond the resources of more urban environments. When standing on a jobsite, we must always ask ourselves, where is the nearest hospital? How will we get there? Will we be able to get there at all times of the day? Or will traffic at certain hours hinder our efforts? How will we treat someone who has a non-life-threatening injury, but who clearly requires medical attention? The questions continue to pile up from there.

In an emergency situation, remaining collected enough to answer these kinds of questions can be nearly impossible. That’s why a plan of action needs to be concretized long before the temporary fencing and warning signs go up. Furthermore, you’ll need checks and balances to hone your emergency plan and a disciplined staff of managers to hold firm to it. 

General safety plans aren’t enough. Every jobsite requires its own personalized plan—a unique safety protocol featuring (at minimum) the names and locations of nearby hospitals, the best routes to those hospitals, and their phone numbers or contact information. There’s a great deal more beyond these details too.

Communicate Your Plan (Thoroughly) 

Let’s say that one out of ten people on your jobsite knows where the nearest hospital is. Let’s also presume that, at some point in the day (perhaps around lunchtime) an emergency situation occurs, and that one person isn’t on site. Who remains to direct the remaining personnel in caring for the injured worker? What are the odds that someone remains nearby to contact the hospital or arrange for immediate transportation?

The odds in this situation aren’t good. In this case, the necessary knowledge is limited to a few chosen personnel who may or may not be available to assist. The remedy, then, becomes obvious. Your emergency plan isn’t privileged information reserved for a select few. It should be common knowledge to everyone who steps onto your jobsite.

Here we turn to record keeping, education, and acknowledgement. When communicating your emergency plan, the best incentive is paperwork. Frequent tailgate safety meetings, printed plans of action, signatures from everyone on site, and other forms of due diligence ensure that everyone knows what they need to know and that you’ve taught it to them. 

The alternative could cost your workers lives and, under certain circumstances, could you cost you your entire business. With death and destitution as the possible side effects of a lax safety protocol, how can one be too thorough or too communicative? 

99.9% Safe 

Unfortunately, wish though we might, we’re never 100% safe from harm. But with the right safety plan and the right safety contractor on your side, you can improve your odds as near to perfect as is humanly possible. PPM Consultants have provided personalized safety plans for dozens of job sites, taking every consideration to keep personnel safe and informed. Anything less is courting disaster, and disaster isn’t an option.

When you’re ready to do what’s best for your personnel, what’s best for your job, and what’s best for your company, contact PPM Consultants to learn more about how we can help you with your environmental needs while also ensuring health and safety during project operations—thereby protecting both workers and your site. After all, an environmental consultant like PPM Consultants, who truly values safety, can be a literal life saver.

Safety is paramount & PPM Consultants know what it takes

Creating the right safety plan for each and every jobsite involves a great deal more than just these broad tips and tricks, and accounting for risks takes more than just one person. To learn how PPM Consultants creates maximum safety on the jobsite, call 1-800-945-4834 or contact us online here


Annie McIlwain, P.E.