Construction Safety Training Is Far Too Complicated for Workers

by Terry Bryant

Construction safety training is intended to help keep workers safer on the job. And considering that 1 in 5 on-the-job deaths in the country occur in the construction industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – with Texas being the unfortunate leader among states in construction worker deaths – safety training is a necessity. It is also required by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Construction workers must receive training about things like protective equipment, fall protection, general safety, and other areas specific to their particular jobs.

Training Methods

While workers receive training through DVD’s, videos, and sometimes instructor-led classes, many training materials are in writing. But these written construction training materials may be too technical and complicated for workers to understand, and this can be especially true for workers who don’t speak English as their first language. If training material is not comprehensible, then it is not doing the important job it is intended to do, which potentially causes large gaps in worker training and, consequently, worker knowledge of safe practices.

Safety Materials Study

In a recent study performed by the Center for Construction Research and Training, also known as CPWR, researchers gathered 103 safety training brochures, handouts, and safety data sheets that were intended to be handed out to construction workers and reviewed them for readability and suitability using four different standard scoring methods. A key finding that came out of the scoring was that about one-third of the safety materials exceeded an eighth-grade reading level, which is the top reading level that many experts in the safety communication field recommend for such materials.

The experts made the following recommendations for simplifying the materials and making them more understandable for workers, both native and non-native English speakers:

  • Focus on a single main message and “call to action.”
  • Summarize the main message at the beginning of the document.
  • Reinforce key points with subheadings and bold print.
  • Include step-by-step instructions for recommended behaviors.
  • Encourage material authors to run them through reading-level software.

Safety data sheets, which communicate information about hazardous chemicals, including composition, safe handling practices, emergency control measures, and more, were especially focused on in the study. As required by OSHA, safety data sheets include multiple messages because they address multiple audiences. To make them more useful to construction workers on specific jobs, the study recommended that construction employers supplement the sheets with information and materials targeted to their own workforce.

Better Training Is Critical

With nearly 1,000 construction workers dying each year nationwide and thousands more being injured, providing safety materials that workers can actually comprehend is critical to making the industry safer. Top causes of death for construction workers include falling, being hit by objects, electrocution, and being caught in or between equipment.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction-related accident, the experienced Houston construction accident attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are here to help. Call us at 1 (800) 444-5000 or contact us through our online form. Get the compensation you deserve.