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Case study: Safety observation in daily use

Skanska Finland


The issue

The accident rate in the construction sector is higher than in any other sector in Finland. Experience has shown that it is difficult to identify all job hazards in task planning. Some hazards arise only after the work has started; perhaps because of deficiencies in planning, changing weather conditions, hazards caused by other groups of workers, etc. The use of safety observation cards has helped overcome this problem.

The action

Skanska Finland, as the main contractor, provides information on site safety rules, including the use of safety observation cards to every new worker entering the construction site. The worker also gets a 10-page-block of safety observation cards which fit in a pocket. The block also includes a short user manual.

The safety observation card is meant to be as easy as possible to use. There is a fixed list of the most common hazards on building and civil construction sites. The identified hazard can be selected with just a tick, and the user can also add other hazards if necessary.

After identifying the hazard the worker is advised to tick a suggestion for improvement. The card is then to be passed to Skanska supervisor who will go through the observation and give immediate feedback to the worker. Then the observation is discussed during the weekly site meeting. Finally the supervisor will enter the observation in the intranet-based safety information system, determine the risk factor of the observation and report actions that were taken.

Safety information system generates automatic email-notification to site construction manager and Skanska safety personnel. Every construction site has its own web-based scorecard which helps monitoring how many observations there have been and what sort of content they have had.  

The results

Safety observations have promoted accident prevention in various ways:

- They allow workers and supervisors to identify hazards and adopt preventive or corrective measures immediately.

- They promote personal and site-level communication and learning.

Since 2004, when the company started collecting safety observations, the accident rate has decreased, with an indirect correlation between the number of safety observations and accident rate.


  • 41 Construction of buildings

  • 24361C Good Practice
  • 24401C Case studies
  • 19641D Risk assessment
  • 20641D Worker participation
  • 57721C Construction sites
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