It is crucial that construction employers keep employee safety top of mind. As experienced OSHA defense attorneys, we know the consequences of violating health and safety standards. We challenge employers to evaluate their need for a buddy system or to at least improve their current one. An extra pair of eyes, ears, and hands can be the difference between a severe injury or a fatality. To learn more about buddy systems, read part one of our article.
The Benefits of a Buddy System
When evaluating the usefulness of a buddy system, examine it from all angles. On the surface, a buddy system can increase safety especially, during more hazardous activities. A buddy system is valuable for onboarding new employees because it sets them up for long-term success and it can accelerate their productivity as well as enhance their job satisfaction. Buddy systems help employees connect with fellow coworkers and the company as a whole. The buddy system is another great tool for further development of existing employees because it allows them to develop leadership skills and learn new tools and techniques from the person they are partnered with.
Working in construction is about working smarter, not wasting company resources or manpower. It is important that you understand the potential weaknesses of a buddy system. The following factors should be considered when employing a buddy system:
Increased Cost: The cost of labor will increase when the company has to hire two workers to complete one job. So to avoid unnecessary costs, be sure the job requires more than one person.
Human error: People naturally let their guard the more familiar they are with a task or the more comfortable they become with the buddy system. They assume they are safe with a second person and, as a result, may let their guard down.
Both employees may be in danger: Some tasks or hazards may place both employees at risk, which would cancel out the benefit of a buddy system because both employees would need emergency rescue.
Incompetence: The competence of each individual is important. This is even more critical when onboarding new employees, or else, you will set them up for failure. New employees will need to be paired with someone who is knowledgeable about job-related duties as well as those not related to the immediate work at hand (i.e., company culture)
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.