How site managers can contribute to better safety

More than 3,500 serious workplace accidents occur annually in the construction and civil engineering industry in Europe.

A study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden shows that leadership is of great importance when it comes to safety at the construction site. Both direct and indirect leadership behaviors affect culture and thus safety, the study shows.

Indirect management practices, such as coordinating work by establishing a frequent meeting structure and structuring the work by establishing and adhering to rules, guidelines and plans, have a positive impact on safety. Direct management practices, such as proactively monitoring and correcting security risks and acting as a role model for professional workers and subcontractors seem to have a favorable effect.

Leadership behaviors that are characterized by a lack of active leadership responsibility, unclear communication, and not making risk analyzes, in turn led to reduced safety at the construction site.

“Safety could be improved by offering site managers leadership development education that focuses on communicating clear expectations, carrying out collective risk analyzes, and proactively following up and giving feedback on security behaviors,” says Martin Grill, a researcher in psychology at the Gothenburg University, Sweden, who conducted the study together with Kent Nielsen from the Regional Hospital in Herning, Denmark.

Checklist for site managers

  • Establish clear security rules and guidelines
  • Be active in your leadership
  • Communicate clearly
  • Use continuous education plans
  • Follow up and give feedback