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  • Writer's pictureYvonne Root

That Sure as %*&# is Not Safe!

Have you, like me, grown weary of the Stay Safe message?

Well, hold on to your seatbelts because this adventurous message isn’t about washing your hands, nor is it about reckless driving, although that certainly could factor in.

While there are objective and concrete actions that one can take to remain more safe within the construction industry, it is two other components of safety (head and heart) that I’m pointing out today.

But before we go there, I want to remind you of the why of construction business safety.


The following list begins with the most crucial factor and ends with the least important factor.

1. Protect life and limb

2. Improve employee confidence and morale

3. Gain a positive company reputation

4. Reduce project disruptions

5. Negate the costs associated with accidents

6. Comply with OSHA standards

The first three items on the list have the human factor written all over them. The next two things have to do with monetary concerns. The last is what it is and must be dealt with as it is.

How to Know

When we want to get to the bottom of why a political, economic, or social system has gone awry, we say, “Follow the Money.” Typically, that is how things get sorted in the end.

When the time comes to determine who has someone’s best interest at heart (in this case – their safety,) the rule is, “Follow the Love.” Following this path is also a great sorter.

An Example

One of the most well-known examples of putting this love-rule to work is found in the Bible and relates an incident in which King Solomon was asked to determine lineage without the benefits of crime labs and DNA processing. If you don’t know the story, you can find it in the third chapter of First Kings, verses sixteen through twenty-seven. The story is about finding out who really loves who.

Unfortunately, the English language (unlike ancient Greek) overburdens one little four-letter word -- LOVE. This article from Harvard Business Review titled, “Employees Who Feel Love Perform Better” by Sigal Barsade and Olivia A. O’Neill brings up the words “companionate love” and discusses this type of love as it relates to those with whom we work. r

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Companionate love or Philia love (from the ancient Greeks) brings us full circle to “Follow the love.” The next question becomes, who cares more about your employees, you or bureaucrats? And this is where you step to the plate.

Be sure your safety programs do not discourage personal responsibility in favor of legal compliance. And along that train of thought, it is much better to be able to begin any safety meeting or discussion with “because I care” than with “because OSHA says we have to.” See what I mean?

Your Head is Worth It

Now that we’ve covered the heart of the matter, we get to the head stuff. Your team must understand how vital their heads are. Everyone must protect both the physical head and mental capacities. When they “get” that being “in compliance” doesn’t mean they’re out of danger, half the battle is won. Guidelines can’t and shouldn’t be expected to replace common sense.

The Enemies of Safety

The enemies of workplace and job site safety are:






And following is a list of some attitudes or mindsets your crew and staff may adopt that will invariably bring on the enemies of safety:

Participating in Carelessness

Having Disregard

Being Neglectful

Catching a bad case of Anti-Authority demeanor

Behaving Thoughtlessly

Reacting out of Ignorance

Engaging in Complacency

Allowing Distractions

Being Fatigued

Being strongly Emotional

Being a party to Recklessness

Operating Impulsively

Believing in personal Invulnerability

Being caught up in Resignation

Leading your team to withstand the above temptations and teaching them to evaluate safety issues properly gives you the advantage of team-wide safety authorities. These are your in-house authorities who understand and value safe practices for the right reasons.

The Construction Business is Risky

Real risky! Therefore, the best safety management policies acknowledge and prepare for risk. There’s risk in entering every scene from job site to office and in-between. The key is to recognize that risks vary in degree and must be dealt with individually. Looking at the location from an historical (information gathered by living) point of view and immediate (what’s happening right now?) point of view is the best way to bring the brain to work daily.

Stepping Away from the Pulpit

By the way, I’m not the only one preaching this message. Both Mike Rowe and a group of folks writing for the Journal of Emergency Medical Services discuss various issues dealing with actual safety measures versus supposed safety standards.

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· Remain informed

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So you can Run With the Big Dogs!

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