safety first, last and always

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Exactly how much is a clean safety record worth?

 

Nathan Foti, Project Manager

 

Workplace accidents impact people’s livelihoods and tragically, on occasion, life itself. Fact. The cruel irony is that a good deal of these workplace
incidents that, in one way or another prove so costly, are preventable.

My role is to ensure that the projects we work on are completed in full, on time and within budget. And within the “in full” part of that statement, I
include the requirement that everyone associated with that project arrives home safely, intact and hopefully in good spirits. I take personal responsibility
for that outcome. As we all should.

If onsite safety is not the first and last thought of the work day for everyone associated with the construction of one of our many projects, I feel that
I’ve missed something. And I embrace every practical approach and strategy available to ensure that personal safety and the wellbeing of workmates
and associates onsite is front and centre.

 

Communication is key

Everybody that has walked the earth eventually grasps the concept that injuries are bad. They hurt, they can have a lasting and limiting effect on your
life and those that care about you. They are to be avoided by any means necessary and as previously stated, for the most part, injuries at work these
days are avoidable.

We have available to us, personal protective equipment and workwear specifically designed to shield vulnerable body parts from common hazards:

  • ear protection to keep industrial deafness at bay;
  • safety eyewear to shield the delicate mechanisms within and around the eye from danger; and of course
  • protective clothing specific to the functions that some team members are called upon to fulfil.

And of course, best practice, according to safety guidelines, directs our ways of working to ensure that risks are minimised if not eliminated. Are we
missing anything?

Yes.

Yes we are. You see, safety charts start to look a lot like wallpaper after a couple of weeks, safety videos are usually outdated and manuals, well they
seem to take up a lot of room and collect a lot of dust. Sad but true. My firm belief is that regular, live-action talks with people, looking them
in the eye and inviting discussion is far more effective. People tend to remember conversations. Especially if the hot topic of the day is doing a
great job at work and returning home safe and sound at the end of it.

I urge everyone within our company and those with whom we have an association, to take safety seriously enough to discuss it. Talk about how to maintain
it and how to keep it front of mind throughout the day. These days, more is demanded of workers in almost all business sectors and that is as true
of construction as it is in commerce, retail or marketing. But there isn’t a deadline in the business world that is worth the endangerment of a worker
or loss of life. That’s something worth talking about.

 

Safety takes pride of place

Everybody loves records. Records of achievement, I mean. Fastest athlete, highest score, tallest building, loudest whatever. The owners of those records
are written into the history books and can take pride in their achievements. The interesting thing about records is that once a record has been surpassed
by a person or persons, they often keep striving. Striving to push the boundaries to make an even deeper impression on the record books. I guess it’s
human nature to let our curiosity keep prodding us to explore how much, how far, how many. That curiosity can also be used to keep safety top of mind.

“How many days without a lost time accident?” That’s a question that often escapes the lips of those that walk past a safety board or have a passing interest
or indeed a stake in the wellbeing of employees. When people walk past a noticeboard or hear someone proclaim that it has been a thousand days or just
under three years since a lost time incident of any kind, they are impressed – for a number of reasons, depending on what values they hold dear.

  • Some may be delighted and relieved that no one has had to suffer injury or an unpleasant change to their way of life.
  • Others might be relieved that a project timeline remains valid.
  • Others still, might connect with the “time is money” adage and feel a sense of relief as they cast an eye over planned expenditure.

And yes, these concerns are all valid, but for me, the number 1 reason will always be number one as far as I am concerned.

The point here is that regardless of what someone feels is important when they see that board or hear that figure, the fact is that they are very interested
in seeing that number of days free of lost time incidents, increase. I’m not sure what the record for most days without a lost time incident in the
world of interior project construction is, but
I can say that every day, my focus is set firmly on taking another step towards it.

Exactly how much is that worth? Everything!