NEWS Nonprofit launches ‘nudge’ program to protect workers from crashes

Nonprofit launches 'nudge' program to protect workers from crashes

Die in danger.Traffic accident is next Leading causes of death in the construction industry From 2018 to 2020, the fourth contact with an object or device, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training.

These deaths — which OSHA describes as injuries or deaths resulting from forceful contact between a person and an object, such as a moving car or fallen equipment — occurred despite the well-known risk of being hit. In response, CPWR Developed and is working on a toolkit Help contractors create a “nudge” or alert workers and supervisors to a plan to respond to hazards.

As part of the pilot program, CPWR advises contractors to identify risks, plan work ahead, and then develop push measures, which may look like ongoing training or incentives.

The Silver Spring, Maryland-based nonprofit announced and detailed the pilot program in a webinar Thursday, inviting contractors to participate and provide feedback.

by numbers

CPWR conducts pilot project around survey of employers; commercial contractors make up 80% of respondents. The investigation found that working around heavy equipment vehicles and falling or flying objects, both at heights and at the same height as workers, had the greatest risk of an impact incident.

CPWR research analyst Grace Barlet said the organization encourages contractors to plan around these hazards first. When there is heavy equipment or hanging material, spend more time planning ahead and making sure everyone understands the job and potential hazards, says Barlet.

By understanding which types of tasks pose more hazards—such as crane work—contractors can ensure workers have the proper safety knowledge up front—for example, to stay properly out of the crane load’s swing radius.

About a quarter of respondents said a lack of understanding of how to respond to hazards and schedule stress was the biggest barrier for employers to adopt the safest practices. The biggest obstacle faced by 30% of workers is a lack of pre-task planning.

OSHA advises workers Always wear appropriate safety gear, such as a helmet and goggles—especially when working under other people. Additionally, workers should verify that machine operators can see them when traversing a job site and wear bright, visible gear when working on road construction projects.

Jessica Bunting, research director at CPWR, said it was critical that employers plan early in the bidding stage to mitigate or eliminate the hazards of being hit, and then spend extra time each day planning for work that could introduce those hazards.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents said that training workers on how to recognize and prevent crash hazards would help their employees prevent crashes.

nudge in the right direction

But planning and education shouldn’t be the end of it, Bunting said. Active reinforcement—such as leading culture change by example—and passive reinforcement—such as using site posters to remind workers to wear PPE—can help underpin the pre-planning phase.

Second, reminders like text messages, emails or stickers help keep rules and practices in check, and incentives or rewards for participating in daily plans can help give that extra nudge to keep everyone’s heads spinning, Bunting says.

Identifying hazards and planning is only the first step, Bunting said. According to CPWR, strengthening these practices through these concerted pushes can make a difference.

“I think we can all agree that changing construction culture is an uphill battle,” Bunting said, but it is possible, and workers themselves are effective advocates. Contractors can learn from ongoing efforts to address the industry’s mental health crisis and provide testimonials from affected workers to those who are resistant to safety changes.

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