How do I keep my workers safe when working off site?
This is a great question and it's a concern for many types of businesses. Landscaping, construction, plumbers, welders—all can spend much of their workdays off site (by which we simply mean somewhere other than their business location).
No matter where workers are doing their work, the same safety rules and regulations apply. This means employees must still wear appropriate PPE and follow the safety standards and regulations set for the environment and type of work they are performing.
Working safely must be a habit and is a hallmark of professionalism. When we hire contractors, we expect them to understand what kinds of hazards they may be exposed to and apply the appropriate control measures. In fact, this is one of the reasons we hire professionals: so the work is done in the most efficient and safest manner.
It’s important to remind workers that they represent the company that employs them. They are company ambassadors. How they act should reflect the values of the business for whom they work. Taking pride in what we do and how we do it is part of our professionalism.
We need to train employees to work safely, as a professional construction worker, landscaper, plumber, mechanic, and so on. Safety rules and procedures are never optional. This means proper use of harnesses for elevated work surfaces, using lockout tag out, chalking tires when needed, and following all other safety rules that are appropriate to the type of work being performed (see Understanding Lockout/Tagout Safety to learn more about this procedure).
We can’t watch our employees all the time, and we should not need to (nor would they want us to). We must be able to trust employees to act according to company values, including safety.
When contracting jobs, make sure your employees and those hiring your services understand that safety comes first. This is a mark of integrity and shows that you value people. Contracts should state explicitly that all safety rules must be followed. We need to empower our workers so that if they are asked to perform unsafe acts or work in hazardous conditions, they have the confidence to say no (find out How to Refuse Unsafe Work).
It’s not that we don’t intend to get the job done; it's that we need to find a way to get it done safely.
We are all performance driven. No one wants to be the person to say they can’t get things done. So we need to stress a "safety first" attitude and make it part of our professionalism. On-site or off, make sure employees understand what you expect from them in regards to safety: safety mus come first (learn How to Create a Safety First Culture).A professional mechanic that plans on working tomorrow works safely today.
More Q&As from our experts
- Is there any legislation regulating lone worker safety I should know about before hiring?
- What is a worker-powered organization?
- What is qualitative safety data?