Building a Strong Foundation: The Keys to a Successful Construction Safety Committee
by Christopher McGee, CHP, CHST
Environmental Health and Safety Director
In the world of construction, safety is paramount. Construction sites are dynamic, often hazardous environments where accidents can lead to injuries, loss of life, and significant financial consequences. To mitigate these risks and ensure the well-being of all workers, McDonald York established a safety committee in 2015. We know that a well-structured and effectively managed construction safety committee is crucial for promoting a culture of safety and achieving a successful, accident-free project. We will explore the key components and strategies for creating and maintaining a successful construction safety committee.
Clear Purpose and Goals
At the beginning of every year, the McDonald York Safety Committee (MYSC) establishes safety goals and objectives. One goal this year for the MYSC was to audit our EHS Manual. The MYSC reviewed and commented on over 300 pages. This goal was completed in August.
In addition, McDonald York is 1 out of only 19 commercial contractors in North Carolina that is North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) Building STAR partner. We have been a Building STAR partner since 2004. Being a NCDOL Building STAR partner means a company is held accountable to higher safety standards than non-Building STAR companies. This includes having and submitting written safety goals for continuous improvement every year to the NCDOL. Verification that these goals have been met must be submitted to the NCDOL in an official annual report.
Diverse and Engaged Membership
Our committee is a true cross-section of the construction world, comprising members from various job roles and backgrounds. This approach harnesses the wealth of experience and expertise that each member brings to the table. All share their unique perspectives, resulting in a well-rounded approach to safety management.
Continuous Training and Education
What sets this committee apart is its unwavering commitment to learning. They invest time and resources in regular training sessions, ensuring that members are well-versed in the latest safety protocols, best practices, and emerging technologies.
Open and effective communication is key to a successful construction safety committee. MYSC members voice their concerns, share insights, and discuss safety incidents. Monthly meetings are held to discuss safety issues and action plans. To create a positive safety culture; the MYSC Chairman and EHS Director ensure everyone feels heard and valued.
Hazard Identification and Mitigation
A critical role of the committee is to identify potential hazards on construction sites and develop strategies to mitigate them. This proactive approach can prevent accidents before they occur. One item being implemented in 2023 are guards on sprinkler heads. Guards are installed on sprinkler heads with flagging to identify them and protect them in the event they are struck. The guards can protect the sprinkler heads from being damaged and prevent a space from being flooded with sprinkler water.
In summary, safety is a core value at McDonald York. Our MYSC is not merely a bureaucratic requirement; it’s the beating heart of our EHS program. With our clear mission, diverse membership, ongoing education, effective communication, and proactive approach, the MYSC demonstrates that safety isn’t just a priority—it’s a way of life. This committee serves as a shining example of what can be achieved when a commitment to safety becomes ingrained in the culture of a construction company, resulting in a safer, more productive workplace for all.