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Safety Never Goes Out of Style


By Kirstyn Quandt, Communications Manager for NCCER, from NCCER blog

If you aren’t well-versed on the ins and outs of the construction industry, you assume a sturdy pair of boots, hard hat and well-equipped tool belt constitutes proper safety on the job site. And while all of the above are very important steps on a craft professional’s daily checklist, there are many additional precautions to be taken.

In the past few months I have become well-versed in proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and when I see someone not properly tied off or without their gloves, safety glasses, etc., I cringe a little on the inside. While safety is critical in all aspects of life, it is an integral part of the construction industry. Just look at any construction site and it is clear the job necessitates immense focus. Not only does safety dictate the quality of work produced, but it directly affects the lives of the men and women on the job site, the surrounding communities and every individual that sets foot in the structure thereafter.

Unfortunately, we live in a fast-paced society. Our simplest wishes are granted and delivered right to our doorstep and it’s easy to lose sight of proper precaution. In an Occupational Health and Safety article, “Building a Culture of Safety at Construction Companies,” Jim Stanley wrote, “Multi-tasking has evolved from a talent to a necessity to maintain the pace of everyday productivity.”

Interestingly enough, this article was written in 2010 and if anything, society has become even more reliant on multi-tasking. You’re driving down the road and someone is scarfing down a ½ pound burger as they drive while also adjusting their GPS, or you head to the gym and catch sight of someone running on the treadmill in jeans and flip flops as they FaceTime their best friend. Sometimes it’s scary to step back from the craziness of our everyday lives and take an honest look at the unsafe habits we have all become accustomed to.

If you think back to all monumental lessons learned in life, there is almost always a safety warning put in place that hopefully, changes our actions and thought processes moving forward. “Wear your seat belt.” “Don’t run with scissors.” “Metal doesn’t belong in the microwave.” The list goes on and on.

In an ENR article written by Pam Radtke Russell, Virginia Tech Professor Marc Edwards discussed the mission of engineers across the nation: “to protect the public welfare above everything else.” He continues to say, “The second you forget that, people pay a price.”

I encourage every individual in every industry to take a step back from the chaos of life, pause, and reflect on the first time you carelessly reached into the oven without a mitt. Whether your mind was too consumed with the next task on your list, or you thought your newly-acquired superpowers could deflect the heat, we’ve all done it. What’s important is that we take that same sense of overwhelming precaution that washes over us for the next few minutes and channel it into our everyday work because in many industries, including construction, there are many people who depend on it.

Cheers to National Safety Month and an unwavering commitment to a safe and sustainable workforce!

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