Being in the midst of a pandemic has been a dramatic learning experience for everyone from government leaders and disease control experts on down. There have been numerous missteps and plenty of misinformation passed along since the outbreak began, and recommendations for how to manage the spread of the disease have been continually revised as new information comes in, causing a lot of confusion.
As we’ve seen, such confusion can have damaging, and in some cases, devastating impacts. Few industries can understand this quite as well as construction. Many in the industry have witnessed its effects firsthand in the form of expensive project rework, or in the worst-case scenarios, accidents on the job.
Clearing the confusion is essential to maximizing both productivity and safety on your projects. Here are four tips that can help bring clarity:
1. Don’t make assumptions
One of the biggest missteps on any jobsite is to assume everyone knows their responsibilities and the potential challenges or hazards involved. Prior to project startup, gather your crew, as well as any subcontractors who will work on site, to outline responsibilities, potential hazards and project objectives. Use Tailgate Talks or Safety Huddles at the start of each workday to discuss individual responsibilities and to inform or remind workers of any potential risks specific to the day’s tasks.
2. Vary the method of communication
Everyone receives information a little differently. For example, some will listen carefully and quickly absorb it, while others may become easily distracted and pick up only part of the conversation. To reach all types of listeners, consider a mix of communication methods — a combination of verbal, written, video and hands-on guidance, depending on what’s being covered. Ask pointed questions to ensure everyone is on the same page. Also consider any language barriers that could potentially lead to misunderstandings.
3. Provide effective communication tools
Options for communication have come a long way beyond hand signals and walkie talkies. There is now a range of technologies available to facilitate clearer, more concise communication between workers as well as between the site and office, ranging from cost-effective apps on mobile devices to more advanced Bluetooth-based technology.
4. Encourage questions
Workers can be reluctant to seem like they “don’t get it,” so create an environment that encourages workers to ask questions if something is unclear. Emphasize to all employees that properly understanding the information can literally mean the difference between life and death in some cases, and there really are no “dumb” questions on a jobsite.