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The jury’s still out on whether the United States is headed toward a recession. But there are warning signs: rising inflation, plunging stock markets and an inverted yield curve, to name a few.

To prepare for a slowdown, many contractors may be cutting budgets and trimming their workforce. But safety shouldn’t be compromised in the shuffle.

With limited resources on hand, safety is critical. If an incident occurs, it’s harder to hire new workers, absorb production losses and make workers’ compensation payouts.

The good news: a forward-thinking strategy can enable safe work on any budget.

Communicate Early and Often

Slowdowns often mean layoffs–and heavier workloads for the folks who remain.

To keep things on schedule, workers may prioritize project deadlines over onsite safety. The result: a heightened incident risk, which threatens crews and your bottom line.

One way to keep safety top of mind? Start every shift with a discussion about safety hazards and protocols, such as:

  1. Recap the task at hand. This ensures that everyone sticks to a clear set of duties for the day.
  2. Identify any related safety risks. For example, if you’ll be working with forklifts and ladders, outline the primary risks and recap safety best practices.
  3. Point out any unusual hazards. If you’re working after a rainstorm, remind workers to watch out for wet spots and other slip-and-fall hazards. And make special note of anything unexpected, like power lines that were downed by the storm.
  4. Keep things brief. People can only take in so much information at once. A short discussion makes it easier to remember the most important takeaways.

After each safety talk, make sure you’ve documented the discussion topic and attendance list so you can remain OSHA compliant.

Use Safety Tech to Boost Efficiency

In a slowdown, contractors look for ways to do more with less. But you don’t have to trade safety for efficiency. With a suite of digital safety tools, workers can shave time off manual safety processes to more easily maintain workplace standards.

Tools include:

  • An app-based protocol reference library. In a time crunch, workers might not want to walk across a jobsite for a protocol refresh. With a digital reference library, they can use their smartphones to pull up the information they need.
  • Digitized safety data sheets. This makes it easy for crews to identify risks and protection measures for new chemicals onsite.
  • A digital safety training program. If you have limited safety personnel, you can use digital training tools to deliver the same regular trainings with a fraction of the time and effort.
  • Another tip: look for a platform that includes all of these elements. This will help maximize your tech investment and make it easier to onboard crews.
Encourage Leading by Example

There are three tips for being an excellent leader: do your job, pick up the trash and be smart.

That middle piece–picking up the trash–simply means doing the right thing, like picking up litter on the sidewalk. And in a safety context, it means modeling the safety practices you want to see on the ground.

That’s because crews take their cues from their leaders. If supervisors cut corners, rank-and-file workers will too. And if executives start making safety cuts, workers will view safety as a lower priority onsite.

From a safety perspective, it’s important to lead by example. For company leadership, that means centering safety in your internal communications and company investments. It also means fostering an on-the-ground environment where supervisors feel comfortable prioritizing safety every day.

Encourage supervisors to:

  • Follow every safety protocol. This is a basic step, but following protocols to a tee will demonstrate their importance to the rest of the crew.
  • Be proactive about observations. If a worker is misusing a forklift, an early observation and stopping the job if necessary will reduce incident risk and help keep safety top of mind.
  • Position themselves as a helping hand. Remind employees to ask questions about safety practices. On a jobsite, no question is a bad one.

With safety-minded leadership, crews will follow their lead and stick to best practices.

Safety Matters in Booms and Busts

It’s easy for contractors to deprioritize safety in tough times. But the ones that make it out ahead use slow periods to balance safety with efficiency. The result: a model that can weather any market cycle.

With the right program tweaks and investments, your company can ensure the safety of crews and protect the bottom line. This way, you can prepare for a slowdown–and reap more benefits on the other side.


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