Serious About Safety: Scout’s Honor
By Patty Bird, Senior Workforce Development Manager, NCCER
From NCCER Blog
Safety is critical in the construction and maintenance industries. It’s ingrained in most companies’ culture and training from day one. So when a young professional comes to the industry with basic safety training already inherent in their habits, we celebrate the value that is automatically added to the workforce. Fortunately, I have had the privilege of seeing young men learn such fundamental safety practices through the Boy Scouts of America.
This organization introduces young men to the construction industry by offering merit badges that give them a sampling of craft careers including electrical, welding, cabinetmaking, metalwork, plumbing, surveying and drafting, just to name a few. The key components to earning any one of these merit badges is presenting basic knowledge about the topic as well as performing a task in some way to solidify one’s understanding. Interestingly enough, when you open a merit badge handbook, safety is the first topic covered.
Not only is safety a priority for the individual performing the task, but it is critical to protect everyone in the surrounding area. In essence, safety is everywhere in Boy Scouts, and by learning such fundamental principles at a young age, these Scouts are well-prepared for many career paths, including the construction industry.
These young men learn that the first part of proper safety is to know your surroundings and identify any potential safety hazards. How is this any different than what is taught in the construction industry? In any basic safety course, identifying potential hazards and, when possible, eliminating those hazards, is one of the very first lessons. Furthermore, lessons illustrate that if eliminating a threat isn’t possible, hazards are then barricaded. This same concept is practiced in the Boy Scouts when setting up an ax yard. Swinging the ax is a hazard, so the boys barricade (rope off) the area and only one person is allowed in the yard at a time. This example is one of many that shows the organization’s outstanding commitment to safety best practices regardless of the task required.
It’s clear that when young men learn how to put safety first, they carry those lessons with them throughout their lives and into their careers. Almost every situation we encounter in the workforce has variables that can make for both safe and unsafe outcomes depending on the actions we take, but knowing the difference between the two is where programs such as the Boy Scouts of America come in. By immersing young men in a culture of quality safety standards, we are teaching them that any sustainable workforce puts safety of their employees and the community above all else. Isn’t that the same kind of mindset we want resonating throughout the industry?