4 Common Workplace Safety Mistakes to Avoid

Cases of workplace fatalities and injuries in Singapore are rising, and it’s unsurprising to see the authorities sitting up and taking notice. Workplace deaths have risen to 45 cases in 2022, up from 37 in 2021. Poor work practices in the construction industry was also responsible for 84 major injuries in Singapore in just the first half of 2022 alone.

Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has enforced imposed stiffer fines for offences since June, a heightened safety period from Sept 1, 2022 to Feb 28, 2023, and implemented a safety code of practice in September for company management – reinforcing the nation’s stand that workers’ safety remains an utmost priority. The emphasis on workplace safety is also not lost on local construction firms, with a recent survey by Procore finding that 64% of construction decision makers have already implemented site-specific safety plans, and another 32% with plans to implement such policies.

Human error reportedly accounts for more than 70% of workplace incidents. The top culprits? Stress, fatigue and poor organisational culture. While it’s easy to introduce training or disciplinary measures, these are only Band-Aid solutions. The onus is on construction firms to enforce a collaborative safety culture at every level - from the workers on the ground, to the business decision-makers. 

Here are some of the most common construction errors and how they can be prevented:

1. Humans design systems

Excellent work safety procedures may already be hardwired into your onboarding programme or included in work packages. But without enforcing those procedures, you have not one but many accidents just waiting to happen.

Whether it’s a safety incident, a quality shortcoming, a missed deadline or a busted budget, many sources of human errors in the workplace are the result of ignoring the human-designed systems within which people must work. 

Organisations need to implement a systems approach to manage the potential for errors, focusing on reducing the likelihood of workers making mistakes at the task level, the team level, the workplace level, and the organisational level. 

2. It’s only human

Human error affects many aspects of construction projects, especially safety and quality. When people only view accident and incident reports as statistics, they face the risk of overlooking causal factors from inaccurate, forgotten and assumed information.

Did someone not see the lockout tag? Or, did they see it but assume it was no longer necessary, due to other information provided? It makes no difference because in both cases, human error is at work.

As more construction projects resume, the higher demand may result in more safety lapses as businesses race to meet tight deadlines, and more mistakes are bound to happen. Technology plays a key role in closing this gap, ensuring everyone across the value chain has access to a single pane of truth, thus facilitating a culture of safety and reducing workplace accidents. Contractors leveraging data through a unified construction management platform (such as Procore’s platform) report seeing safer working environments (46%), enhanced security (52%) and increased productivity (46%)

3. Harness human variability

The way humans adapt to changing situations is building a safeguard against errors.

In construction, that might mean having a person designated as a safety monitor on every task. It could also mean regular training in ‘wariness’, which tests individuals’ assumptions about what’s safe and what’s not. A quality control expert at the task level makes critical assessments of materials and methods, while a cost control specialist at the activity level scans for waste or inappropriate substitutions. The idea is to expect and encourage human action to do it with a healthy dose of scepticism.

Procore Quality & Safety proactively helps main contractors and subcontractors identify, understand, and correct safety issues on jobsites. The instant tracking and immediate record of potential jobsite hazards help organisations improve productivity, reduce losses, and protect their businesses.

4. Get preoccupied with failure

Highly reliable organisations expect errors. They constantly question operations and seek error solutions before even needing them. With a workforce trained to recognise errors and recover from them quickly, these organisations avoid falling into the trap of isolating errors without seeing the bigger picture.

At its core, health and safety is all about understanding, predicting, and correcting issues before they become a problem.

Procore is armed with digestible insights, real-time communication, and a comprehensive quality and safety tool to ensure that jobs are built to quality standards, budgets and deadlines are met and job sites are safer for their workforce. Contractors gain visibility, improved collaboration, and the assurance that things have been built to quality and safety standards.

Ultimately, unsafe practices not only cause injuries and fatalities, but also damage a company’s reputation, delay project schedules, hike-up insurance rates, and lead to costly litigations. When businesses are able to identify risks and track opportunities for improvement, they get time back to focus on the important stuff – building better and smarter.

Find out how Procore is leveraging technology to foster a safer work environment here.