The plan targets the exact dangers workers face every day, so rally everyone around it.
Construction can be dangerous, but every project is potentially dangerous in different ways. That’s why creating a site-specific safety plan before breaking ground is critical to mitigating risks and keeping workers safe.
A jobsite safety plan spells out your strategy for identifying, controlling and eliminating hazards, as well as who’s in charge of doing what as far as safety is concerned. But where should you start, and what exactly should the plan include? Follow these tips to ensure your plan is effective and meets site safety plan requirements.
What is a site-specific safety plan?
A site-specific safety plan (SSSP) is a document that spells out the potential hazards of a particular jobsite and exactly how the company will mitigate them, as well as the safety-related policies and procedures workers are expected to follow. These plans are designed to protect everyone from employees to subcontractors to site visitors to the general public.
An SSSP is created before a project starts, but it should be updated to address new hazards that emerge as the project advances. The goal of every SSSP is to eliminate accidents and injuries.
Is my worksite required to have a site-specific safety plan?
OSHA does not require a written comprehensive jobsite safety plan, but some states do, so check local regulations. OSHA does require employers to provide proper safety training and implement control measures to mitigate risks, so taking the time to create a site-specific safety plan is in your company’s best interests.
Who is responsible for creating a site-specific safety plan?
The general contractor is responsible for creating, executing and updating an SSSP. The duty typically falls to the company’s safety manager or a designated competent person. A backup competent person should be appointed in case the primary competent person needs to leave the site.
If the project includes multiple tiers of contractors and subcontractors, it’s important to craft an SSSP that addresses the full scope of work. All tiers should comply with the plan.
What should I include in a site-specific safety plan?
Every SSSP is different because every project and jobsite is different. That said, here are some of the most common elements of an SSSP.
- Basic project information (project location, description with diagrams, duration)
- Scope of work
- Key personnel, their safety-related responsibilities and contact information
- Name and contact information of the competent person and designated backup
- Name of the person(s) responsible for managing emergency response, including evacuation
- Subcontractor list
- General site-specific safety rules
- Recommended training requirements
- Documentation of employee training and certifications
- Analysis of potential hazards specific to the site and work
- Vehicle travel ways and delivery routes
- Location of dedicated jobsite entry points, parking areas, restrooms and break areas
- Material safety data sheets (MSDS) for all hazardous chemicals
- Location of hazardous chemicals
- Equipment list
- First aid training
- Location of first aid station or kit
- Location of nearest fire department and hospital
- Recommended PPE and when to use it
- Protocol for reporting safety incidents
- Description of required site safety orientation, or construction site induction, for all workers, with signatures acknowledging proof of completion
- Documentation of inspections and accidents
- Disciplinary actions for violation of SSSP guidelines
- Severe weather emergency response plan
- Signature section for management signoff
What jobsite hazards should a site-specific safety plan identify?
Taking the time to think through the risks the work being performed may pose will help you and your team come up with controls and procedures for mitigating them. A few examples of potential hazards are:
- Hazardous materials, including asbestos and lead paint
- Electrical hazards, including overhead power lines
- Structure collapse
- Trench collapse
- Dust and flying debris
- Noise at high decibels
- Holes, open pits and leading edges
- Falling loads
- Equipment movement
- Equipment failure
- Traffic hazards from construction vehicles that could threaten public safety
- Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms and other weather-related hazards
Remember: Every SSSP should be specific to the jobsite
Never reuse a jobsite safety plan. That defeats the purpose of an SSSP and ignores the “site specific” element. To arrive at a plan that is customized for the project, solicit input from the project owner, project designer and other stakeholders. Use feedback from stakeholders to amend the plan as needed over the course of the project.
Launch your SSSP with a construction site induction
A construction site induction is an introduction to the jobsite at the start of project that includes an overview of your safety policies and highlights notable site-specific hazards and how you’ll control them. Each worker should receive a site induction. That means you may need to conduct these orientations again and again as new trades arrive onsite.
Site inductions aren’t just for fulltime workers. Conduct a condensed, tailored site induction for occasional visitors, such as architects and consultants, to orient them to hazards relevant to their time on site.
Site-specific safety plan templates and how to use them
Free and paid site-specific safety plan templates are available online. (There is no OSHA site specific safety plan template.) These can serve as useful starting points, but you’ll likely want to pick and choose elements from different templates and add your own elements to cover all the information necessary for your company and your project.
Rubber-stamping a downloaded template or pasting general OSHA or ANSI safety guidelines into your SSSP misses the point. The time you spend thinking through the potential hazards of a specific project, planning exactly how you’ll mitigate them and identifying who will do what and what training is necessary is the key to reducing the number of safety incidents that occur, and ideally, bringing that number down to zero.