The most important tool in your “safety toolbox” is found in the minds of your workforce. Therefore, the first hurdle to overcome is the mindset which incorrectly identifies safety and productivity as enemies of one another.
Consequently, it is your job to make certain your subs and employees understand that safety and productivity walk hand in hand.
From the human point of view, no one wants to see someone be injured or killed. That simple.
In addition, from the stats point of view, when safety measures go unheeded (and someone is injured or killed) productivity takes a hike. Also, that simple.
Let’s take it down a level. Remember having this conversation with your children? “Stop that! Someone is going to get hurt!” Then, you hear back, “Nobody has gotten hurt so far.”
Similarly, there are times even adults tend to play the nothing-bad-has-happened-so-far card. You know what I mean, you’ve seen it:
- Not using PPE
- Disregarding proper procedure when using or repairing tools and equipment
- Improperly placing ladders or temporary access apparatus
- Neglecting to disconnect electrical power
- Entering unprotected trenches or other spaces
Mark Twain, in Innocents Abroad said, “He cuts a corner so closely now and then . . . that I feel myself ‘scooching.’”
For instance, it’s likely you’ve been on a job site where you felt the need to “scooch.” Removing the scooch isn’t easy, yet it is worth it.
The bravado factor
A LiveScience article titled, Why Do People Take Risks, mentions that some “. . . desire to venture past the limits of safety in pursuit of a rewarding experience.” Likewise, in the construction industry, the rewarding experience may be as basic as a paycheck. Or, it could be a misguided attempt to fit in with the crowd or please the boss.
The second hurdle of the safety quandary is the bravado factor inherent in many of the people drawn to the construction industry. Certainly, it isn’t that they have a death wish or a desire to be injured. They often see the risk as less than others might perceive.
Safety is No Accident
Instilling a safety-first mentality in your subs and crews is imperative.
Make certain they understand you want them to stick with safety procedures. Help them see it will help keep everyone (including their fellow workers) safe.
Yeah, I know, safety training can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s because safety is so blasted valuable, in every respect.
A rich man needed to hire a chauffeur to transport his dear wife to their beautiful new home. A mountain top home. Therefore, the driving job required great skill as the road to the home clung to the side of the mountain. This single-lane road had an edge with a deep drop to the driver’s left.
The rich man took all three candidates to the site and gave this instruction, “Show me your skill for driving on this treacherous road.”
The first candidate drove slowly, slowly up the hill with his tires only inches from the precipitous edge, in an attempt to prove his skill. He was told he would not be needed.
Subsequently, the second driver took the same route with his tires only inches from the drop. And, eager to prove his skill, drove at a higher rate of speed. He too was dismissed as a candidate.
However, it was the third driver who got the job. He was the only one who drove as far away from the edge as the car would allow.
You get it. Most importantly, be sure your employees get it too.
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