Safety Photo November 2012

I want to emphasize the importance of conducting equipment inspections. Our employees rely on various types of equipment to get their job done efficiently and safely and it is our job as the safety professional to ensure that they have the right tools and training to get the job done, but how often have you pulled up on a jobsite and found the equipment you provided them in a state of disrepair? I found this to be true with my service department and the ladders on their vehicles. Ladders are a tools that is commonly used and imperative to get many jobs done. However, these highly useful tools are often left on top of the vehicle and subjected to sun, weather, road conditions, and other forms of distress. It’s not just a matter of training your employees on how to conduct a good ladder inspection, but to hold them accountable to following through on these inspections. What do your ladders look like?

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Safety Photo October 2012

Exits and doorways: we all understand the need to keep exits and doorways free of obstacles in the event of an emergency. However, I wanted to bring this photo to attention given that I have started to see snow in my state. When the snow and ice build up on walkways and stairs what do we do to control the slip/trip/fall hazards? Often times companies will salt or put sand down to help, but are we just trading one problem for another? What is the process to clean up the sand or salt once the snow is gone or melts? Once the walkways or stairs are dry and free of ice/snow the debris left from the salt/sand can cause a slip/trip/fall just as easily. Keep this in mind when you are looking to correct a hazard; will the solution cause another hazard once the immediate one is corrected?

The Consumate Safety Professional

What is a safety professional? Do we have a code of honor or professional conduct we abide by?

How many of you would stop and talk to a complete stranger because he was standing on the top two steps of a ladder? I did (see photo below). I did not yell, I did not raise my voice, I did not talk down to him, I simply stated that I was a safety professional and I noticed he was putting himself at risk and I did not want to see him get hurt. I asked him if he knew what he was doing wrong and he responded with a five minute conversation about OSHA and safety. He knew he was putting himself at risk, but he was just trying to get the job done. I then proceeded to ask him if he had a bigger ladder he could use and he said he did have one on his truck and that he would go and get it. He in fact did have one available for use and he got it and continued his work. Now he is safe and able to perform his duties without fear of harm (or at least less chance of injury). He even thanked me for pointing out his mistake and appreciated the fact that I said something.

The thing is if I had not intervened and something happened, would I be at fault? Would I have violated my oath as a safety professional involved and active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)? I know I would not be able to look at myself and say I am a safety professional if that happened. Sometimes people are not trained in the proper way to work safely, other times they are just focused on their job and not paying attention. I believe that it is our job as safety professionals to step up and make a difference where we can and help to educate those who are not being given the opportunity to succeed and stay safe by their employers.

What would you do?

Safety Photo for May 2012

OK, perhaps I don’t fully understand the process. I have never seen a rock crusher/mill on top of the dirt/rock pile before. Typically they have this piece of equipment on the ground and the loader/excavator will bring the material to it. My concern is the fact that the excavator is digging out the material beneath the crusher…just my thought, but don’t you think  that might be a bad idea?

On another note, Caterpillar has a great web based resource on safety with construction equipment. If your looking for videos, toolbox talks, or other training material check it out.

Creating a Culture of Safety – Part 1

As safety professionals or people who have safety responsibilities we are often tasked with not only writing and implementing programs and policies, but enforcing and adhering to what we wrote. This can be a huge challenge in even the most successful organizations. So how does a person work to enforce and hold employees accountable to the written company program? Creating a culture of safety is the key to successfully implementing a safety program.

You may be saying to yourself, good observation, but how do I create a culture of safety within my own organization? The answer is simple, but it will not happen overnight. In my experience as a safety professional, the easiest way to  implement a safety program and to create that “elusive” culture of safety is to GET YOUR EMPLOYEES INVOLVED. Below are just a few ideas for getting employees to be a part of the safety process and to take ownership of the safety programs within the organization.

  • ASK! Ask employees for their input. It is human nature to want to be involved in the process. Many employees get easily discouraged, with corporate safety efforts, because they feel that they are being forced to adhere to rules and regulations without a clear understanding of why or how the work should be performed. Simply asking the employees for their input on best practices or practical applications of safety requirements can aid in lowering or removing those obstacles that we are often faced with when attempting to implement safety requirements.
  • Make them part of the process. Get your employees involved in the training and ask them to assist you in building your photo or video library. One of my greatest successes came from asking a few of my employees to help me with a ladder training I was going to be conducting at a future date. I was on a construction jobsite and needed to get some new photos of workers on ladders for my training. I went up to a couple of my employees and explained to them what I was doing and what photos I was looking for. I asked if they would be willing to assist me in my endeavor and they said yes. As we got into the process, my employees came up with some additional photo shots and angles that I did not think of; all of which made the training more realistic and applicable in the end. As I was conducting the training, the employees who had assisted me jumped up and stated that they had helped me with that section of the class and were proud to be a part of it. From then on, anytime I pulled up on a jobsite I had employees giving me suggestions for future training and ideas for addressing pending safety issues or concerns.

This was just a brief glimpse into creating a culture of safety, stay tuned for further posts regarding these processes of creating a culture of safety. I will look into some of these items in more detail and offer additional observations and/or solutions to removing barriers to compliance and resistance to implementation. Feel free to post comments or ask questions of items being discussed or details you topics you would like to see expanded.

Safety Photo for April 2012

Fall Protection; always one of the most common violated standards and yet one of the most likely to cause serious harm. I took these photos as I was in line to get some food at a drive through establishment. I would consider this a high profile job in a busy shopping complex area. Makes you wonder sometimes what the project superintendent is doing.

OK, so in one of these photos the employee is tied off, but the supervisor is not and is walking all over the roof.

One of the other photos has an employee that is tied off but the rope grab is set at the end of the rope not doing him much good if he falls.

The other photo depicts an employee who was tied off but was getting ready for lunch so he disconnected at the peak of the roof to go have his food.

This illustrates a common problem in construction today; employees and supervisors know they need to have the equipment and wear it while on the job, but fail to do it properly because of laziness, lack of caring, or any other such excuse.

Safety Photo for March 2012

I love the ignorance of people sometimes (it’s why I have a job). Here is a retailer looking to promote some heavy duty construction clothing to potential customers. They want to illustrate that this clothing will hold up to extreme wear by construction personnel. I get this mentality, makes good marketing sense. Let’s show a person wearing our clothing while working on a frame building. However, they are also illustrating the fact that their climbing harness (for rock climbing) is adequate for use while performing this kind of work and sending the wrong message to those same customers. I get that they were probably trying to find a way to secure the mannequin to the structure, but they inadvertently (or perhaps it was a conscious thought) that climbing equipment is approved as fall protection in the construction trade. I guess my point is that I wish people would think before they act and consult some good professional advice if they have questions. This just irks me because of the mixed message and the improper use of equipment NOT designed for this type of use.