Let Safety Officers Do Their Job

Mon September 30, 2013 - National Edition

Heavy equipment is heavy. When it rolls over someone, the machine is not injured by the experience. Never. The same is true of human encounters with material grinders, electrical circuits, and concrete from falling 50 feet onto it. In every case, workers lose… consciousness, limbs, or their lives.

Safety officers on job sites earn their pay by keeping workers on their toes and out of the hospital. Sometimes it is hard to see the worth of what they are doing. If an accident doesn’t happen, who is to say safety precautions are the reason? It always is difficult to prove a negative.

Consequently, we grumble sometimes about wearing the hard hat or putting on safety goggles because, after all, nothing has ever fallen on our heads or ricocheted into our eyes! Yet because the safety guy insists on the protective garb, we go along just to get along.

Why is it that too many construction workers—usually the youngest ones—have to have their fingers pinched or hair singed before they take seriously the notion that they are not impervious? Adjusting their attitudes about the possibilities of painful accidents can go a long way to keeping them safe.

An article in the American Society of Safety Engineers argues that safety issues are too often addressed by general contractors and subcontractors after a contract is signed. At that point, it is catch-up time. The better idea is to have safety officials involved in contract discussions from the start so the need to protect workers is integrated into every phase of a project.

That makes a lot of sense, especially because construction remains one of the top two or three careers where death or injury on the job is a distinct possibility. In short, construction work is dangerous work. It is rewarding, too, but only if you live to enjoy the rewards. Put on that hat!