In a perfect world, industry across the board would have a zero injury rate. It’s a reality however that construction in particular is a physically demanding industry where long hours, large machines and dangerous situations are all part of the package.
It’s also an industry that experiences a lot of attrition, with people leaving the jobs if and when they find other less taxing work, forcing companies to hire more and more people with less and less experience.
One way many companies have tried to mitigate this last reality is by implementing mentoring programs. The less experienced worked shadows someone with more experience, gaining a lot of insight and knowledge, rather than simply being thrown into the fray to sink or swim.
“Johnny Meador started working in construction when he was 15 years old. Forty-five years later, Meador shakes his head at the risks he and his former co-workers used to take. Safety was not exactly a priority back then. “Anybody in their late 50s or 60s or 70s can tell you how it was,” said Meador, 60, who now works as a safety manager for Charlotte, NC-based Hall Contracting Corp. “Some of the stuff we did when we were young – which the owners had you doing – was insane. If you went through those recessions that we had, you were just lucky to have a job. When you look back, things could have been a lot, lot safer.” (Source)
“Employers in 2017 had 2.8 recordable cases per 100 workers – less than half the number in 2003.” (Source)
The decreasing numbers are great news and definitely something to celebrate, but the goal is and always has to be zero injuries. Construction work is safer than it has ever been, with the biggest gains happening in the last twenty years, but there is always more that can and should be done.
We asked Dave Ruddy, safety consultant, what his top 3 important safety points are for 2019. Here’s what he had to say:
“Focusing on safety is as important as focusing on craftsmanship, quality and production.
My sincere desire for 2019 is that each employee would be strong enough to say no to unsafe work environments, that each employer would be diligent in providing each employee the knowledge and tools they need to conduct their work in an efficient and safe manner and that safety professionals would be encouraging to employees and employers.
Safety is not about compliance, safety is all about the human desire to accomplish a common goal while performing work efficiently and safely.”
It’s this last that really should resonate with all of us: it’s about the desire to accomplish the goal of safety, not just focusing on the numbers or getting complacent with the idea that a company’s safety record is ‘good enough’. It’s never good enough until there are no injuries or fatalities. It’s a mindset and a culture of work that we need to adopt, from the highest levels of any organization, down to the latest hire out in the field.
At OE Construction, safety is a primary concern. We have implemented the STOP™ (Safety Training Observation Program) on every site, with a strong and ongoing commitment by way of:
- OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) training, both on the job and in a classroom setting;
- Weekly safety meetings and audits.
We’re proud of our current EMR (Experience Modification Rate) rating of 0.84, not because lower injury risk means lower insurance premiums but because it shows that our commitment to safety is effective. However, it can always be improved upon, with a view to keeping all of our team safe.