The Construction Manager’s Guide To Corporate Social Responsibility

What Does A Construction Safety Officer Do
  • Author: Fazal Umer
  • Posted On: June 16, 2023
  • Updated On: June 16, 2023

Corporate social responsibility (also referred to as ‘CSR’) has become a growing concern for many forward-thinking business owners today. CSR effectively revolves around the idea that companies have just as much a responsibility to have a positive social and ecological impact as they do to generate profits for their shareholders.

Prioritising CSR can look pretty dissimilar from industry to industry. For instance, the CSR concerns of a car wash are likely to look a bit different than those of a law firm. So what does CSR look like for construction companies?

We’ll be answering this question today, alongside enjoying a deep dive into some of the key areas of CSR strategising that all construction managers should familiarise themselves with. Read on to unearth all of our insights into CSR and to learn how you can begin mapping out CSR initiatives for your own construction firm.

Reducing the environmental impact of works

When you think of ‘CSR for construction companies’, monitoring the environmental impact of your construction sites is likely to be the first avenue for improvement that comes to mind. Thankfully, measures like securing ISO 14001 certification and investing in the ethical disposal of site waste materials can easily be put into effect to support the development of your firm’s own environmental policies.

Let’s start by looking at the ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System Standard first. Developed by the ISO (or the ‘International Organization for Standardization’), the ISO 14001:2015 framework for environmental management systems was created to facilitate the continuous improvement of environmental processes across a range of different industries. Some of the areas for optimisation that are covered by ISO 14001:2015 include:

  • Monitoring and assessment of environmental risks
  • Responsible resource consumption (i.e. reduce and reuse)
  • Responsible waste disposal and recycling initiatives
  • Improving the sustainability of business operational practices

Attaining ISO 14001 certification can also demonstrate your commitment to the environment and conservation to your client base. As the ISO have made their own commitment to ensure that ISO standards contribute to the UN’S 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adhering to these environmental standards can help your enterprise do its own bit towards meeting all the SDGs in time for our collective 2030 deadline. 

Ethically disposing of site waste materials

Now, let’s have a closer look at the benefits attached to responsibly disposing of waste materials on your worksites. There are ethical waste disposal companies all over the world that partner with construction firms in order to gather waste materials like rubble, discarded bricks, or concrete. Oftentimes these waste materials go directly to landfills. What you may be surprised to hear, however, is that these materials can actually be repurposed and processed into fill materials.

In other words, construction managers can not only ethically dispose of their own site waste materials in partnerships with these disposal bodies, but they can even purchase recycled fill materials from these same companies.

You’ll also find that tightening your waste disposal processes actually impacts the overall health and safety of your construction site as well. Less waste to work around means a wider area of movement for site vehicles, machinery, and site workers. And a greater area of movement reduces your risks of experiencing a workplace accident or unnecessarily damaging vehicles or equipment.

Providing safe and secure working conditions

If you’re currently thinking that your social responsibilities as a construction manager extend to your workforce before they extend to the wider community, then we’re inclined to agree. Supervisors have a duty of care to their employees, and as your workers will likely be spending more time in and around your worksite than members of the wider community, it’s natural to begin your CSR assessments with an OH&S audit.

Providing safe and secure working conditions can involve a few additional investments, alongside OH&S audits. For example, another element of improving the quality of your workplace is to develop staff training programs, flexible working arrangements, and subsidising transportation for your employees as well.

And as you may have imagined, developing and maintaining safe working processes can also provide just as many additional benefits for construction managers as it does for their workforce.

For example, investing in safe working practices and worksite safety assessments can drastically reduce your risks of experiencing a workplace accident, which can not only result in worker injuries, but may even result in workcover claims and an increase in the premium for your business insurance.

Not to mention that the detrimental impacts of workplace accidents grow tenfold if the individual or individuals that have been affected are civilians rather than your employees. In this case, injuries or incidents that can be directly attributed to your unsecured working conditions or worksites may result in litigation.

Developing sustainably designed infrastructure

Now let’s zoom out one final time to determine how your construction company can fulfil its responsibilities that it has to work for the betterment of the wider community that it occupies.

What constitutes a community-driven construction project? If you look at the overview of any inner city development project, chances are you’ll find a fair amount of information on providing amenities like communal green spaces, public parkgrounds, playground infrastructure, garden beds, and cycling or pedestrian trails, to name a few. Providing all of these amenities is one of the pillars of CSR for construction companies.

Many modern construction and architecture firms have made a commitment to only taking on projects that will enhance urban centres and provide an improved quality of life for urban residents. This means only taking on development projects that are thoughtfully designed, and provide all the space and functionality that residents would require from their inner city dwellings.

A great example of this is the East Brunswick Village (EBV) development project, located just north of the city of Melbourne, Australia. Designed to look and feel like a quiet, contemporary village, the EBV has been designed to provide its residents with an abundance of light, greenery, and space, alongside many local amenities like storefronts, paved walkways, and even EV charging stations.

And taking on future-oriented development projects like this will not only ensure that your construction company contributes to a more sustainable future for its wider community. It can help seriously pretty up your firm’s portfolio along the way too!

As we mentioned earlier, investing in CSR can look different from sector to sector. But as the defining principles of CSR are concerned with ecological and societal or community impacts, you may find that your construction company’s CSR guidelines do share some similarities with mining and agribusiness corporations.

All of these industries operate within heavily controlled work environments, and their operational activities have the potential to generate great ecological damage with irresponsible or unsustainable management practices.

With that, you can take inspiration from the CSR initiatives pioneered by other companies within and around the construction industry. You’d be surprised by how many valuable insights and ideas you can come across by conducting your own independent research.

And if you are planning on securing ISO 14001 certification, the process of adhering to 14001 environmental standards will undoubtedly provide you with a superb jumping off point for putting effective CSR initiatives into place.

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Author: Fazal Umer

Fazal is a dedicated industry expert in the field of civil engineering. As an Editor at ConstructionHow, he leverages his experience as a civil engineer to enrich the readers looking to learn a thing or two in detail in the respective field. Over the years he has provided written verdicts to publications and exhibited a deep-seated value in providing informative pieces on infrastructure, construction, and design.