How to Build a Good, Better, Best Safety Program


Workers who feel the companies they work for have their best interests at heart, including their personal safety, are more willing to go above and beyond for them. Therefore, a commitment to safety is a statement you can find on the websites of most construction companies. However, you don’t see whether that statement is incorporated into the company culture. So often, safety is one of the first processes to be cut when a project falls behind schedule, which is not a culture of safety. 

Companies that actually take safety seriously have documented programs in place, but more importantly, the programs are put into practice from the top level of management all the way down through the entire organization.  These companies have happy, productive employees with lower turnover rates and lower worker’s compensation costs. 

Before joining the team at ServiceTitan, I spent a decade helping contractors with their safety programs. Based off that experience, I have composed a list of the next steps you should be taking, no matter what point you are at in developing and implementing your safety program. 

Just Getting Started

If you are at the very beginning of the creation of your safety program, congratulations!  Making a commitment and following through on putting safety before results is the first step.  Here are some suggestions on what you can do next. 

1. Conduct and Document Weekly Toolbox Talks

A toolbox talk is a two-part process that provides your workers with safety training and, when documented, reduces your company's liability if there is ever an incident. The talk section is a short segment of safety information specific to the work being completed that day or week. The talk is most often conducted onsite, where the information is more relevant, and areas of the project or tools can be used as examples. Toolbox talk content is available online and from most trade associations.  The second part is the documented record.  The date, location, topic, and the names of all attendees need to be recorded, or in the eyes of the law, it simply didn’t happen. 

2. Be Onsite

Being onsite is one of the best ways to ensure compliance with safety protocols.  Whoever you assign as an onsite supervisor should focus on three key components. 

a) Action every infraction - A verbal warning is usually sufficient with written documentation following any repetition or escalations. 

b) Take time for training - Besides noting an infraction, a review or instructions of proper processes is imperative.  

c) Reward good behavior - Verbal confirmation that their effort is recognized is often enough, or take it further by praising them in front of their peers or bringing them a coffee the next time you arrive onsite.  

As these practices become habits for your team, that level of supervision won’t be as necessary. That’s when you can start showing up unexpectedly or ‘forgetting’ something and circling back to the site to see what happens when you turn your back. 

Need to Do Better

If you already have some safety practices in place but know that you can and should be doing more, the following suggestions are the next steps to take. 

1. Formalize and Document Inspections

Every morning, upon arrival at the jobsite, your foreperson should be conducting and documenting a Jobsite Hazard Assessment (JHA). There are three parts to a JHA, documentation of the tasks expected to be completed that day, recognition of the hazards associated with those tasks, and the controls that will be put in place to protect workers from those hazards.  A manager or supervisor should also conduct a Jobsite Safety Inspection when attending the jobsite.  This inspection ensures that the controls listed on the JHA are in place and looks for any other uncontrolled hazards.  All inspections should be documented and stored for future reference.

2. Provide and Track Training

Ensuring employees are trained on how to complete their jobs safely is the company's responsibility.  Some training is mandatory by law, depending on the State you work in, and should be delivered by professionals. Other training is more trade-specific and can usually be accessed through trade associations and potentially delivered internally.  Regardless of the type of training, all of it should be tracked to note who has what training, when they took it, and when it expires.  

3. Inspect Tools and Equipment

Equipment and tools should be formally and informally inspected on a regular basis.  A malfunctioning tool or equipment can very easily slow or shut down production on your jobsite and can potentially harm your employees. An informal inspection should be completed at the time of use by the person about to use the equipment.  It does not need to be documented unless an issue is found.  A formal inspection should be completed on a regular basis (timelines vary based on equipment type) by a qualified person and should be documented for reporting purposes. 

Striving for the Best

If you have a pretty good safety program up and running already but want to achieve rock star status, here are some suggestions of what the top safety-conscious companies are doing. 

1. Create Site Specific Safety Plans

A Site Specific Safety Plan takes what is already documented in your existing safety program and adds practices specific to the project.  These are commonly created for projects your crew will be on for extended periods of time or contain hazards they aren’t commonly exposed to.  The plan is then reviewed with the employees who will be working on the project during a physical onsite walkthrough. 

2. Track Near Misses

A near miss is an event that occurs which could have caused harm to an employee if it wasn’t for good luck. A near miss should be treated as a serious incident and a teachable moment for your team.  Investigating why it happened and putting controls in place to prevent it from happening again is paramount in protecting your team; otherwise, the next person may not be so lucky. 

3. Analyze Safety Findings

Don’t just store your JHAs and inspections; collect and analyze the data to discover trends or areas of ongoing concern.  Consider all contributing factors and look for patterns such as specific crews or workers, problem projects, or times of day. Then, put actions into place with additional training or topic-focused toolbox talks to control the areas with high frequency incidents. 

4. Ongoing Review

The construction industry is always changing, and staying on top of new regulations, innovations, and techniques is beneficial. Then, you are encouraged to review your existing program and make tweaks or improvements as needed, always maintaining a safety-first mentality. 

How ServiceTitan Can Help

Due to the level of documentation required for successful safety programs, they tend to fall hand in hand with a lot of paperwork. Forms are one of the most powerful tools ServieTitan offers due to their versatility, customization capabilities, the analytics they can deliver, and their elimination of paper!

Setting up safety-focused forms means your employees can be prompted to complete their safety tasks from the field and make them available for your administrative team immediately. For some advice on how to best accomplish this, check out our top tips on Building User Friendly Forms. 

Once you begin collecting your data in ServiceTitan using forms, you can take advantage of our reporting capabilities. In the past, users haven’t been able to pull data collectively from multiple forms. You could access the data for each form submission; however, if you wanted analytics on the answers to one form question from numerous submissions (such as safety stats), that wasn’t possible. Until now! Our latest release (Winter 2024) included access to Form Submission reporting!