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Safety Message

You just won a big job, and you are going to have to hire more people if you want to finish it on time. What does your company do to ensure that the new hires will adhere to your company’s safety messages, prior to letting them loose on the job site? How has your company changed the way your safety message is delivered in order to meet a tight job schedule?

Jobsite safety isn’t assured by sending safety messages from the office, and increased manpower or a tight schedule is not all that relevant. A clean and well organized site will be safer, and the work can get done quicker and more efficiently. The same things that cause delays and inefficiencies also cause injuries. I always ask a new hire to show me his ten fingers. Then I tell him that his most important task that day is to go home with all the same body parts that he started with.

— Chris Ball, Ball CM

Here at the Insulation Guru we take safety and health very seriously. When bringing in new hires we put them through a three-tier system with the owner, V.P. and superintendent questions and answers. We run background checks as well as get a better understanding of how they will approach working for us based on their answers to our questions.

Our safety meetings are weekly, and our customer relations are paramount. Bringing in new people to work for us is basically bringing someone into our business family setting. Comfort for them as well as assurance for all involved; the new hire, The Insulation Guru and the customer are very important.

When conducting safety meetings and sending the guys out to work we make sure that the meetings are understood and that clean and safe work zones are better, productive work zones. When that happens, we can do a better job for the business owner and have a better future relationship. We will get the job done, and get the job done right.

—Christopher M. Burke, Owner, The Insulation Guru, Houston, Texas

We would hire Vince Bailey to get the project done!

—Phillip McRae, Colorado Wallworks, Montrose, Colorado

We have our job superintendent go over our safety procedures with the workers prior to starting the job. We then have a safety meeting once every week on a specific safety that is associated with the job we are on. We have a safety company provide us with literature on all safety procedures, and we have a sign-off sheet for them to sign each week so we have proof we are teaching our workers to work safely. The job super is also watching our workers for any safety issues; he tells them when they are not working safely and makes sure they are working safely. If they continue to work unsafely, we terminate them.

—Brad Ganka, Ganka Painting, LLC, Kingsland, Georgia

We hire certified union carpenters who have to read our site safety manual before starting work. We issue all PPE required for the job, and they sign off that they have received the equipment and have read the manual. Each day the job foreman gives a brief discussion on job hazards and how to handle them.

We are busy and will be this year—it will be a boom year. The biggest problem I foresee is the dearth of manpower—experienced, skilled, qualified workers. Given that we are having difficulty finding such people, we necessarily are hiring unskilled people and having to train them. We have a comprehensive safety training program starting with the application date. We issue to each new employee our company safety guidelines—in English and Spanish. Then, when they arrive on site, safety training—scaffold safety, personal protective equipment and its use and general jobsite safety issues are addressed. We have a full-time foreman on each job site who monitors the safety of our employees and identifies safety hazards on the job, paying special attention to new hires to be sure they are cognizant of the potential risks. Each Monday morning the foreman on each job site gathers all our employees in one place to read that week’s job-box safety meeting notes. We actually buy these; each next week a different safety issue is addressed. Each man signs a sheet saying that he has received this week’s training. Standard safety requirements of our employees is use of a hard hat, fluorescent vests, long pants, shirts with sleeves (albeit shorts in hot weather), boots and safety glasses when performing work that might pose a threat to eyes. Some job sites require full-time use of safety glasses. We require that if an employee is using a grinder or electric saw that he also use a safety shield that attaches to the hard hat and protects the full face.

At our quarterly foremen’s meeting, the primary focus was safety, including showing a 30-minute video regarding scaffold safety to reiterate the importance of scaffold safety for the foremen so that it is in the forefront of their minds on a daily basis.

We also employ an independent safety consultant to visit job sites to check for safety issues and to train the men in the full range of safety hazards and how to address them. Sometimes we use the OSHA/MOSH/VOSH voluntary compliance program to monitor jobsite safety and to train the workers.

Worker safety and health are central to the success of our business.

—Robert Aird, President, Robert A. Aird, Inc., Frederick, Maryland

Write SOPs that address who is expected to follow them and penalty reference for those who don’t. All previous policies are available easily for reference. Employees are to be given these at the earliest time possible, even before first day on the job. They are to review and sign for receipt of them (online or email). A written test to document that they read it is proof that you did what you had to do. Now it’s up to first line supervisors to embrace safety as a potential means of making money for the company just as much as productivity is. Company owners need to recognize this and reward as appropriate.

—Michael Walsh, Contractor

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