I know it's hard to stop scrambling in this business, with the constant crush to line up work, get the work done, and then get paid when you finish. But if there's ever a time to pause and focus, it's when it comes to assuring job-site safety for your crews, subs, and suppliers. Through these efforts, you'll help assure the well-being of your workers and the security of your business. Anyone I've ever spoken to who's suffered a serious injury or loss on his site has been haunted by it. And nobody – especially in these tight times – can afford to fork over hard-earned profits to pay an OSHA fine for a safety infraction that could have been avoided.
You are responsible for what happens on your sites – even accidents caused by complete stupidity, carelessness, or ignorance. Just as you evaluate your workers' construction skills and quality of work, you should also rate them on their safety knowledge and performance. And just as you supply your workers with ongoing training and tools so that they can do their best work, so too should you provide safety training and proper equipment to help keep them safe.
Your leadership will make the difference. It's up to you to establish a culture of safety that your crews, subs, and suppliers will come to understand and respect.
Set clear standards for everyone to follow when they are on your site, and let people know that these are your requirements – don't pawn them off on OSHA. If workers know that you are monitoring their adherence and will dock their pay for infractions – whether OSHA is around or not – they'll get the message. If subcontractors know that they may lose future contracts if they don't tie off on a roof, inspect their ladders, use personal protection equipment, and clean up after themselves on your jobs, you'll see big changes in the way they work.
Construction work involves risks at every stage, with daily exposure to potentially dangerous power tools, hazardous maneuvers, heavy materials, changing conditions, and the harm that can result from working at heights. Preventing injuries takes a coordinated and informed commitment by everyone on your site, clearly enforced standards, and constant vigilance. Job-site safety is a team sport that, when played right, everyone wins.
This month's Tools of the Trade comes with a special job-site safety supplement focused entirely on helping you increase your safety and reduce your risks. It's sponsored by our friends at Werner Ladder, a company known not only for its great line of innovative ladders and staging, but also for its leadership in providing safety-training materials for professional contractors. This special issue will help you develop the right training, select the right products, and implement the right kind of program to make your projects safer and more productive. Follow the steps in this special supplement and you'll be on the way to protecting the people your business relies on the most.
Rick Schwolsky, editor in chief firstname.lastname@example.org