Construction Site Miscommunications and How to Avoid Them

Construction sites are, by design, collaborative spaces. With many tasks being undertaken simultaneously, some involving heavy machinery and materials, it is critical that everyone on a jobsite is aware of what others are doing. This requires communication, which is, of course, important in any workplace, but perhaps even more so in the construction industry where potential for physical injury is higher. 

When collaboration is strong, workers can pool resources and knowledge to prioritize a high-quality end product and meet deadlines. When communication fails, it can lead to jobsite accidents, employee disagreements, and project rework.

Honing a few specifical communication tactics can help improve collaboration, safety, and time efficiency. It’s critical to keep in mind that a construction jobsite is not an office setting. It can be loud, high stress, and even at time chaotic. Keeping your cool and recognizing that tensions can run high and cause people to perhaps speak sharply – especially when a potential threat is imminent – can go a long way to making your work experience easier and more fulfilling.

Coworker Appears To Be Not Listening, Misunderstanding

Whether your coworker is in a hurry to complete a task, unaware of how to approach a task, or physically unable to hear over jobsite noise, it is easy for conversations to get lost in translation during construction work. The best way to avoid baseline communication errors is to take the time to actively listen, setting the tone for those around you. Use nonverbal cues whenever possible – like nodding and making direct eye contact. It is also helpful to take an extra five or ten minutes to connect with your partners about a task before it gets underway. The extra time at the front end can prevent delays and issues in the long run.

Delayed Awareness or Lack of Follow Up

If you don’t communicate potential issues before they happen, there is no way for those around you to be proactive. A construction job site brings together people of different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise. This diversity is important and helpful – but only if everyone is communicating appropriately. Before approaching a task, be sure to actively listen, explain your interests and concerns – if any – and get an idea of where the team’s strengths and weakness are, so everyone is on the same page from the outset. 

Phone Communication on Site

Although phones have streamlined the process of communication in the construction industry, whether that be to notify the team of a delay or just checking in with colleagues, one-on-one text messages can exclude key individuals. Group chats can help avoid miscommunication, but also be mindful of the fact that using a phone while working in potentially hazardous situations can be a distraction and should be avoided.

There are bound to be lapses in communication during a construction project – this is natural and should be expected. How these lapses are managed – and if at all possible, avoided – is key. When miscommunication occurs, seek feedback about what went wrong. By understanding communication failures, it is possible to learn from them and plan more efficiently in the future.