Safety as a Strategy
In the ‘for profit’ world of construction, it’s important to remember the proper motivation behind safe workplace practices. Many of the rules outlined in OSHA and NFPA 70E were prompted by numerous jobsite injuries or deaths.
“Unfortunately, the industry has had to learn safety the hard way,” says Miller Electric Safety Director Scott Love. “The heart behind safety is that even one death in the performance of electrical construction work is one too many. Safety can be more than compliance. It should be a strategy for employee engagement, efficiency and profitability.”
How Safety Helps Companies Run Lean
Safety can be synonymous with terms like, ‘efficient’ and ‘cost effective,’ as the following examples illustrate:
- Cordless Tools – Cordless tools make workers more efficient and cost effective by preserving time that would otherwise be spent dragging extension cords across a job site to drive job progress. It can also affect safety by reducing trip and shock hazards created by damaged cords lying around a job site.
- De-Energizing Equipment – In addition to protecting workers from shock and arc flash hazards, avoiding working on equipment when it is ‘hot’ creates efficiency; workers who know they are safe from the threat of electrical shock or arc flash incidents can work much faster and with better quality outcomes.
- Safe Passageways – General Contractors who plan safe egress in and out of their jobsites, stairways and elevator service to upper floors make it easier for all the tradesmen on a jobsite to perform their work faster and safer, which helps projects be completed sooner while avoiding slips, trips and fall hazards.
- Stretching – Employers who encourage workers to take a few minutes every morning to stretch and flex before working on a construction job site may seem like a waste of productivity but it saves sizeable amounts of both time and money by preventing costly strains and sprains that can lead to disability and surgery. What productivity may be lost by the stretching can be gained by having teams stretch together while discussing the critical information that team members need to know for the day.
Safety is About Being a Good Neighbor
Miller Electric has long advocated for construction safety. Not because we’re perfect but because we care about each and every one of our employees.
“Protecting a person’s life is the motivation behind our safety planning and procedures,” says Love. “No one wants to be fined by OSHA but that’s not going to get people to buy in to protecting themselves and their fellow workers on a job site.”
Love thinks companies might be able to drive engagement in safety measures by thinking of coworkers like family members.
“If we want to reduce safety incidents to zero, and we do,” says Love, “the best way to do that is to care about the people we work with like they are our own family members.”
As with so many important issues in business, 10 percent of workers are engaged in safety initiatives; 10 percent are disengaged; and 80 percent occupy the middle. That 80 percent can be persuaded to join one camp or another by the leadership of their company. That persuasion begins by thinking of and treating your employees’ lives with the value they deserve.
If there’s an electrical contractor working in your facility and you expect them to be safe, ask for a safety plan. Then, ask them to demonstrate it. Just like you would if that person was your parent, sibling or child.
Need a presentation on NFPA 70E or arc flash safety hazards for your employees? Miller Electric is happy to share with your group! Reach out today to get scheduled.