“Duct tape yourself to the saddle - it’s going to be a rodeo ride,” said Chip Macdonald when asked about the economic outlook in 2009. Macdonald owns Best Safety, a Cambridge, N.Y.-based company that offers safety program implementation and management to companies of all sizes.
He indicated it was a “no-brainer” that contractors would contractor would strengthen their safety procedures in a tighter economy. “In the next decade roofing contractors may not survive a minor lost-time accident, let alone a fatal fall,” he said. “Safety has become non-negotiable contract article.”
Macdonald offered the following list of safety suggestions:
- Make workplace safety and health a “condition of employment” - not a slogan. Back it up. First warnings are last warnings.
- Get serious. Issue an OSHA 1926 Construction Standard to everyone you employ. Assign them regular job-specific topics each month and quiz everyone, including yourself. Take OSHA Outreach Training regularly. Pay special attention to your apprentices because they’re your future.
- Institute a Near-Miss Program. If you don’t know what that is, you’d better learn.
- Ask your employees to write their own corporate safety and health program. They’re the ones at risk every day, not you. Have them revise it annually. They will be much better at it than you think they are.
- Learn to document Job Safety Analysis (JSA) from pre-bid to substantial completion. It’s the only light that works on your road to zero accidents.
- Establish a “Tag-Out-of-Service” policy company-wide. Put a tag in every pay envelope every week. Equipment-caused accidents are simply no longer affordable.
- Start a real preventive maintenance program. Invest in quality ladders, scaffolds, and tools and send them back to the manufacturer for annual reconditioning, repair or replacement. We can’t afford the “disposable economy” any longer.
- Designate a competent person (not your foreman) and make them responsible for the crew’s gear and safety. Have him/her change the company vehicle’s oil and tires, inventory and inspect hand tools, clean the jobsite regularly, check on-site materials for damage, defects and short counts, conduct JSAs, etc. Involvement harbors trust and trust gains loyalty.
- Buy a $100 U.S. savings bond for everyone you hire and put them in escrow. They’re low interest, but they’re safe. Every quarter an employee works without an OSHA-recordable accident, add another bond. If they have a preventable accident, remove one bond and use it to reward another. The longer they’re employed accident-free, the more they’re worth. After 10 years or lay-off, hand them over. This is the only incentive program I’ve seen that works.