How to stay safe while working with a small or short-handed crew

Amy Materson

October 29, 2014

Worker putting on safety harnessOne of the lingering effects of the construction downturn is the difficulty contractors now face finding skilled workers. Whether construction workers have found other jobs, moved to a new city or left the industry altogether, skilled workers can be hard to find in some areas.

If you’re making do with, or are part of, a smaller workforce, one of the concerns that should be forefront in your mind is maintaining safe jobsites in the face of having fewer eyes and ears to spot safety issues. Here are tips to make sure you don’t compromise safety on your jobsite because you’re busier and faced with more distractions.

Don’t take shortcuts

It’s tempting to cut corners when you’re short handed, but sticking to your operating and safety procedures will help to keep you and other workers safe. Don’t use the wrong equipment for a task simply because you’re already using it and want to save time. Don’t skip using a spotter just because you have to stop and ask someone to give you a hand. Don’t ignore wearing the right PPE just because you don’t want to fool with it. Remember, while both common sense and experience are crucial, combining them with following a proven set of guidelines will give you the upper hand.

Keep up with training

Safety training is expensive and time-consuming, but don’t let toolbox talks and in-depth monthly and annual training fall by the wayside. The most successful programs are those of repetition; learning to work the correct way requires reinforcement. Receiving targeted training on the type of work you’re doing will not only assist you in retaining the information you need, but will also keep it fresh in your mind when you begin work.

Go the extra mile

Although it may seem counterintuitive when you’re short-handed, taking the time to make sure you’ve performed a thorough walkaround of both the equipment you’ll be using and the jobsite you’re working on will alert you to any hazards you may face during your day. It may even help in the long run: you may notice either an equipment problem or an issue with the site that, if resolved early, may save you time.

This article was written by Amy Materson, Managing Editor of Equipment World.

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