Speak Up for Safety

Have you ever driven by a safety hazard and told yourself “wish I could do something about that”? Well why not? I was driving by a house in my neighborhood and saw these painters misusing ladders and exposing themselves to fall hazards. I pulled over and my son (who is 14 and knows I am not afraid to say something to total strangers) said “are you going to go do something and do your job?”…which is funny that he thinks I am responsible for the safety of the entire planet…I walked across the street and introduced myself to the person on the ground. I mentioned that I was a safety professional and was concerned about their safety. After a quick summary of the OSHA regulations and potential citations, the guy seemed truly concerned and willing to make the situation better. I left my business card and stated that I would be willing to offer additional assistance if he needed. I believe that it is my responsibility, as a professional safety person, to address safety hazards and work to protect people in any situation where I am able. I hope I made an impact in these workers lives, or at least got them to think about safety on the job. I know I cannot solve all the world’s problems, but perhaps I can impact the life of just one person. If I can do that, then my life has purpose.

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What is he thinking?

It amazes me how many people put so little value in their life. While working 12 stories off of the ground, this worker is making some adjustments to a guard rail system. From my vantage point it appears he is not protected from falls. As I continued to watch this guy I noticed another worker duck the warning line and come up to him. At one point this worker climbed back over the rail and there was no sign of a harness or lifeline. I see situations like this all of the time and continually baffled by the lack of safety and blatant disregard for life.

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Stepping Up

As a safety professional, do you take the time and make the effort to step up to protect others from harm?

I pulled up to a Dairy Queen location to satisfy a craving for soft serve and came across the following issue. I was so disturbed and taken aback by the situation that I had to pull out of the drive through and park. The safety of contractor and his employees were more important than my need for sweet creamy, ice-cold goodness.

When I pulled up there was an employee standing on the scaffolding (scaffolding pictured below) installing some new sheeting to the roof. This employee was a big man and positioned rather precariously. The scaffolding was completely unstable and just waiting for the opportune moment to tip over.

As I approached, I introduced myself as a concerned safety professional and stated that I wanted to help them prevent an accident from happening. I proceeded to educate them as to the various issues that I could see and how these could severely impact the health of everyone involved as well as the schedule and profitability of the job. Not one employee was aware of any wrongdoing and oblivious to proper scaffolding set-up and fall protection hazards. After spending a few minutes with the contractor, I proceeded to get back in line to get my delectable dessert.

As I pulled up to the drive through window I spoke to the manager on duty and told him of the situation with his contractor. I even gave him my contact information and told him to let the owners know they could call me with any questions.

I did what I could and hope that I made an impact on how they do business. All I can do is stop and try to help, but I cannot consciously ignore the situation and walk on by. I hope all of you have the courage and tenacity to step-up and speak-up when necessary.

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Safety Photo February 2014

Makes me wonder what is in that Janitor’s Closet to warrant such a sign. I do not see the housekeeping staff completing confined space permits every time they have to get a clean rag.

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When it comes to signage, are you signing the areas appropriate and identifying the hazard? Do you over or under sign? Have you performed some type of hazard assessment to correctly identify the risk factors and work practices?

Safety Photo June 2013

It kills me when people proclaim to be safety conscious and yet act carelessly. You cannot see it, but the back of this guys shirt says Safety Leader. When I stopped to inquire if he knew what he was doing was wrong and sending a poor message, he had the audacity to ask if I was just going to lecture him or could he go back to work.

If your going to wear a shirt that makes a statement that you are a safety leader, you should lead by example and practice sound judgement.

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Fall Protection Equipment

I often find that the reason most people don’t implement a good fall protection program, or are out of compliance is not because of a lack of knowledge, but an ignorance as to what equipment is available to assist in their fall protection needs. They may, or may not, perform a fall or hazard assessment, but once the hazard is identified they didn’t know how or what to use to help. The following are some examples of specialized equipment designed to help comply with the various fall hazards in construction.

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Be sure to read the manufacture instructions for installation procedures and application requirements prior to use. If the system fails, where does the liability fall if the system is not installed properly? Use the right tool for the application to ensure adequate fall protection is in place.

Accident Investigations and Root Cause Simplified

I am stealing this concept from a fellow co-worker, but I just had to share it. When conducting an accident investigation, performing a root cause analysis can be challenging. Let me simplify it for you. Ask yourself these few simple questions to determine where the breakdown occurred.

1. Did they know?
-Did they know the right way to perform the task?
-Did they know the correct process or procedure?
-if not, you might have a training issue.
2. Do they care?
-Do they care about doing the job right?
-Is the company culture such that it’s okay to disregard safety protocol?
-do they understand why they need to perform the task that way?
-If not, you may have a communication or behavioral issue.
3. Do they have the right resources?
-Do they have the proper tools or equipment to do the job correctly and safe?
-Do they have management support and financial backing to safely do the job?
-If not you might have a management issue.
4. Is there an incentive to take shortcuts?
-Are they pressured to just get the job done?
-Are you incentivizing outcomes rather than behaviors?
-Is there any accountability or recourse for not following protocol and safe work practices?
-If so, you might have a management, cultural, or behavioral issue.

Ask yourself these questions next time you conduct an accident investigation to see where you can improve and prevent future incidents from happening.