I applaud you for devoting your front cover and some articles to the issue of health and safety (“Working Without a Net,” July, page 108). I have worked in several industries around heavy equipment and dangerous jobsites for more than 20 years, and health and safety have always been first and foremost with both me and my employers.
I am currently in the process of having a home constructed, and I suppose I am not surprised by the total lack of health and safety precautions that I have seen personally and read about here in my area. In this area of the country, residential construction is a fragmented industry consisting of a builder who is typically an individual who serves as a project manager and hires the various subcontractors to perform the work. At no point in the builder-subcontractor relationship (or the client-builder relationship) are health and safety discussed.
Everyone is responsible for his or her own health and safety, and we all have a responsibility to each other to ensure workplace health and safety. A good place to start is to ensure that your builder and your subcontractors know your stance on health and safety, and that it is a real issue and not just lip service. Requiring hard hats, safety boots, and safety glasses would be a good start for many of the subcontractors in my area.
On every jobsite I have ever worked on, we always begin each day with a short meeting (termed “tailgate meeting”) at which we discuss the day's planned activities, the danger and risks in each of these activities, and the means by which we will stay safe during the day. We also review where our fire-suppression equipment and first aid kits are and what we will do in the event of an emergency. We also stress that each individual has the right to refuse unsafe work, which leads to a discussion of how to make that work safe. This entire meeting takes about 10 minutes and serves to set the tone of the safety attitude and communicates to workers at the site that safety is of the utmost importance.
I would encourage you to devote space each month in BUILDER to this very important and often overlooked issue.
PRINCIPAL GEOLOGIST THE SOURCE GROUP (SGI ENVIRONMENTAL) SPRINGFIELD, MO. VIA E-MAIL