Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility
Safety is not about being compliant with laws and regulations that, by themselves, will not keep workers safe. Safety is not about winning an award for having a low incident rate. Safety is not about meeting minimum requirements. Safety is about people. People who have helped build our community and the companies around us. People who have loved ones waiting for them at home.
If we don’t recognize that PEOPLE are what’s important and take the time necessary to ensure they have the knowledge, tools, resources, and experience to perform their work in a safe manner; injuries and fatalities will continue to occur. It is incumbent upon US to ensure that our projects perform in a manner that does not put workers at risk. How many times have you heard,
“We are already behind schedule and over budget and we haven’t even put a shovel in the ground”?
From a safety standpoint what does that tell you? We have no time to do it safely, we have no money in the budget to do it safely, hazards and unacceptable risks are inevitable…The project is set up to fail from the beginning and a red flag should be waved. Compounding this issue is that in today’s market, there are workers whose experience level varies from one extreme to another. With the lack of skilled trade men and women, there are a lot of workers who have never been inindustry. We can’t sit back and hope they keep themselves safe because they may not know what “safe” is. We have to be proactive.
What can you do to help?
Talk to them, get to know them, show them you care. Earning someone’s trust and respect will often times encourage them to be more open about their experience level and make the difficult conversations that much easier. They will be more open to discussions about their safety and how they are performing their work. We have to constantly be looking out for signs that someone may be putting themselves or others at risk and stop it before an event occurs.
Safety is an attitude. Say it again: Safety is an attitude. You have to live it everyday, lead by example, hold people accountable, and do what’s right. Being in a leadership role means you need to think about what message you are sending when you don’t do something as simple as wear the right personal protective equipment, (PPE) on the job.
Think about the message you are sending when you walk by someone who is performing work in an unsafe manner or you walk by a hazard without doing something about it. It says “It’s not important to me!”
As a leader of a company ( Vice President, Superintendent, Assistant Project Manager, etc.) people are looking up to you and when they see you not doing it, they won’t either! If it’s not important to you, it’ won’t be important to them. If you are not practicing the simple things, like wearing PPE, how are you going to influence the bigger picture of showing people you care? A leader isn’t just someone with a title like President, Vice President, or Director; a leader is someone who others look up to with trust and respect. Lead by example, ask questions, accept critical feedback, and take action to continuously improve the process. Remember Safety is about People. People who are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives. We have an obligation to provide them with the safest work place we can. As a leader you have the ability to ensure they have the opportunity to enjoy the times when they are not at work, where it matters most!
Be a leader, show people you care about them.