The remodeling business can expose workers to safety risks not found in static environments like manufacturing: Because the work environment changes continuously, lack of familiarity with each location’s potential dangers alters how those hazards are monitored and avoided. This means that work procedures should emphasize the less tangible skill of situational awareness. This requires an attitude of caring and vigilance on the part of the employee – a genuine commitment to safety.
How do your employees get the right attitude about safety so they can anticipate and avoid hazards? Certainly, an emotionally powerful event – experiencing or witnessing a serious injury – can have a lasting impact and influence attitudes toward safety. But you can’t wait for a harrowing near-miss situation to motivate the rank and file, and you certainly don’t want to orchestrate one just to make safety training more effective!
Almost 40 years ago, Dennis Lawson began his working career with a giant chemical manufacturer that produced ingredients used in products from plastics to pharmaceuticals. Today he is the Health, Safety, and Fleetmanager for Royal Plus, Inc. (a member of Disaster Kleenup International), with seven locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Elaine Taylor recalls back in the mid 1990s when one of her employees – a young carpenter – was wrapping up work at the end of the day replacing the roof on a fire-damaged home. It was winter time in Alaska, and the crew had just finished spreading plastic sheets to cover the roof openings. One feature of plastic is its low co-efficient of friction, especially when icy and laying at a 23° angle. One feature of young carpenters is an attitude of haste, another is of invincibility. Unfortunately, he lost his footing and in less than two seconds, he had fallen 21/2 stories – over 30 feet – hitting the frozen ground at around 32 mph without wearing any fall protection equipment.
Joel Dagenais knows how to build businesses. He began his career in the restoration industry in 1989 by doing it all for a small insurance restoration firm in Ottawa, Ontario – marketing, estimating and project management – helping to double the company’s volume during his three-year tenure. In 1992, he and a partner purchased a First General Services franchise. Having developed plenty of contacts in the insurance industry from the prior company, he was able to secure an exclusive relationship with a large insurer within two months. Selling his ownership interest to his partner that same year, he opened a First General Services office in Hull, Quebec, and grew that to the largest restoration contractor in the area.
One day a young man named Bill came by the offices of a cleaning and restoration contractor to apply for work. Tom, the general manager, was impressed with Bill’s carpet cleaning experience, and was glad to get his application. Bill said he didn’t have time to complete the application on the spot and asked if he could fill it out at home and bring it in later. They scheduled a full interview for the following morning. At the interview, Bill answered all the questions, demonstrating that he had sufficient knowledge to qualify for a position.