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Safety 24/7

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Last fall a truly “by the book” safe GC tendered a project. Submission of our OSHA training certifications and Safety Program was part of the subcontractor selection process. The submittal included a full-page list of questions about our safety practices. I met with the safety officer on the jobsite and explained that I chose to fill in the questions honestly and if my honesty disqualified us, I understood.

Our first day on the job was a real eye opener. The GC’s employees started the day with stretching exercises, immediately followed by task assignment and checklists for necessary tools and PPE along with instruction on the proper procedure for both the task and the use of the specific PPE. Seeing this left me with an almost “guilty” feeling. Had I been putting our employees in harm’s way and was it time to review our procedures?

After two days of prep work, we were ready for the first concrete placement. It was 4:30 a.m. and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my son informing everyone on location of all the exits, water, and bathrooms, along with the site hazards. Many of the safety tasks that I felt we lacked, we were practicing. The GC made this point to me, “The two most important things that make you a safe company are attitude and organization.”

Days later, I recalled the time when I first received exposure to an “attitude toward safety”. My father was a lineman for a large utility company who provided safety classes to all employees and their families. Before turning 10 years old, I knew CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver, and the potential hazards of every room of the house. When I married, my wife described her safety experiences from hundreds of graphic reports her father, a police chief for 25 years, brought home. Together, we preached to our children (more often than they would have liked to hear) the importance of safety in every aspect of their lives.

I’ve always felt we were an organized and safe company, but many years ago fellow CFA member, Van Smith, gave me a great slogan to remember, “100% ready, 100% of the time.” This is a quote that has always stuck with me.

There is no guarantee that accidents won’t happen, but there is a lot more to safety than teaching our employees about job hazards. As stewards of the concrete industry, we owe it to our businesses, our employees, and their families to teach and practice safety 24/7. An accident of a family member at home affects us and our businesses as much as one in the field. Safety is achieved by how well everyone pays attention to it; we must continue to spread the word. I can assure you that an attitude of “safety costs money” means in the end, you are losing not gaining. In the end, the small monetary and time investment combined with attitude plus organization (or 100% ready, 100% of the time) equals profit.

I believe special awards should be given to companies that teach safety 24/7 to the whole company family, something that I am guilty of not putting into practice…yet.

Dennis Purinton, Purinton Builders Inc., CFA President 2016-18, purintonbuilders@yahoo.com

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us