Construction Industry Safety Ideas from Philadelphia

Construction Industry Safety Ideas from Philadelphia

06th October 2020

All around the world, construction companies and authorities are trying to get to grips with the new health and safety needs that have appeared in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Among the lessons that we can see from different places are the issues that companies in Philadelphia, in the US, have noted.

The Story So Far

Like most places, Greater Philadelphia saw its construction sector grind to a halt in March of this year, causing a devastating economic effect. The local General Building Contractors Association looked to bring in a series of safety measures that would allow essential jobs to carry on and other workers to get back as soon as possible.

The protocols that they came up with have been widely recognised as being among the best in the country. They were designed to protect all workers in this industry, including office staff as well as those who are on-site.

The safety protocols in Philadelphia were introduced in April and they soon had an online training and certification program in place. So what lessons did they learn that could now be put to good use in other places like the UK?

Put Safety Above Rivalry

One of the keys to getting the right protocols in place and sticking to them was the teamwork that was shown in the full construction industry. A range of different businesses were able to put their sense of competition to one side and work together for the greater good.

They also realised that the approach would need to be adapted to different people and situations, rather than bringing in a fixed set of rules for everyone to stick to rigidly. A good example is the way that face shields are called for, in addition to masks, when distancing rules can´t be adhered to.

They also took into account the physical aspect of some jobs, and how PPE use can be more difficult when carrying out some tasks. There is also the risk of forgetting about the importance of traditional equipment, like safety ladders and boots, due to the current emphasis on other risks.

The Importance of Trust

The authorities here were also quick to realise the importance of a high level of trust when bringing in new health & safety requirements. They made sure that people trusted the source of the guidance being given, to make it more likely that they adopted the measures being introduced.

Using champions to get the message across and being consistent were among the key lessons that they learned in this respect. They also pointed out the need for regularly reinforcing the information being given. It wasn´t just a question of bringing out the new rules and letting workers get on with it.


All of these ideas to come out of Philadelphia´s approach might seem like nothing more than common sense. However, in the rush to bring out rules to cope with the new reality in the construction industry, it is easy to overlook major points like these.