During the week of May 6 - 10, many within the construction industry will come together to make safety the central focus on projects of all types and sizes. This noble effort is conducted to drive safety awareness among the craft professionals who work long and difficult hours in the construction of our facilities. Safety Week will touch thousands of craft and hundreds of small businesses with the goal of reducing injuries in our industry.
I think we would all agree that Safety Week and similar focus weeks are vital in our mission to prevent injuries. But what message does it send for the remainder of the year? Most firms engaged in the construction industry teach safety as a “core value,” the true measure of success and more. Most of these same firms do in fact make safety a part of each day’s activities through training, awareness efforts, hazard recognition, milestone celebrations, etc. Firms such as these demonstrate to craft professionals that indeed safety is a core value and their well-being is paramount.
Other firms who claim they have safety at the forefront, send different messages to the craft they encounter. Once per year they boast participation in safety week, but then return to “business as usual” the remaining 51 weeks. What message does that send to the individuals placed under our protection? Additionally, when small contractors move from General Contractor to General Contractor, they often find conflicting approaches and commitment to safety. This inequity of commitment and action by the less committed firm taints the investment in safety provided by the committed company.
If a survey was taken today by the craft professionals and smaller firms on your projects, what would it say about how committed to safety your company and/or field leaders are?
Commitment to safety and safety education should be part of your company’s fabric. Safety Week should be just another week because of your demonstrated safety emphasis year-round. Like a seat-belt when your drive home… it is just part of the automobile and automatically incorporated in your commute.
The challenge to our firm and others within the industry is: Conduct a candid assessment of your commitment to safety. Are you committed year-round or do you make a concerted effort annually to illustrate your care? We all can improve our safety commitment for the benefit of each other, but what matters is the perception of those under our control and our obligation to provide a safe work environment.
Currently, events such as Safety Week are necessary, but we should strive to ensure safety is truly in our DNA year-round.
Written by Lance Simons
Vice President, Safety & Quality