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Construction site communication tips

Many construction accidents happen because of a lack of communication or due to miscommunication on the job. Workers face risks that they could all avoid if they just had a better communication strategy.

For instance, imagine that you asked a coworker to set up a ladder and secure it on the top and bottom because the ground is not firm enough to safely accommodate the ladder otherwise. That worker goes and sets up the 30-foot ladder while you get ready for the day, packing your tools into your belt and looking over the plans. Then you go to the ladder, climb up to where you need to work, and get started.

Suddenly, the ladder slides away from the building. You fall straight down the face. You break both legs when you hit the ground and they have to rush you to a nearby hospital.

As it turns out, the coworker could not find the ties to secure the ladder. They set it up and went to look for them, not thinking you'd use it yet. They neglected to tell you, though, so you climbed the unsafe ladder and it fell, just like you thought it would.

Better communication could have kept you safe. Though this is just one hypothetical example, here are a few communication tips that can help on any job site:

  • Face-to-face communication is the best option. Try to avoid passing messages through other workers, talking on the radio, sending text messages and things of this nature. These tactics can work when you have no choice, but they leave room for error. You may text a coworker and assume they got the message when they never read the text, for instance.
  • Avoid distractions and really listen. The job site is a busy place. Workers often hear without listening. They may stand there and hear what another worker is saying, but they're distracted and thinking about the schedule, the jobs for the day, the possible delays they're facing or something else entirely.
  • Never feel afraid to ask questions. Get clarification when you need it. Ask questions just to slow the conversation down so that you have time to think about key points. Remember that communication works both ways.
  • Keep things professional and never personal. For instance, if you think a worker is forgetful and needs a reminder, just give them the reminder. Don't preface it by pointing out that they're forgetful and so they need to listen. This feels too much like a personal attack and they may not listen well due to anger, frustration or distraction.

Even when you communicate well on the job, accidents can and do happen. If you suffer serious injuries, you need to know what legal steps to take.

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