News & Press: President's Letter

February 2020 President's Letter

Monday, February 10, 2020  
Posted by: Trish Moss
Share |

Safety: you own it!

You own responsibility for your safety, and the safety of the people near or affected by what you are doing. It’s good practice and it’s good business. No one wants to think about the consequences of a jobsite accident, but you have probably observed plenty of stitches and perhaps a few serious accidents if you have been on the job for any length of time. 

Most worksite accidents are completely avoidable. They are the result of bad judgment, poor decision-making or a momentary lapse of focus. Good practice and an effective safety culture start and end with you. If you don’t think about it, plan for it and ultimately enforce it, safety doesn’t happen. Whether you work alone or with a team of 20 craftworkers, reinforcing good decisions that form good habits make a difference. Do you use the guard made for your grinders? Do you have the vacuum attachment and HEPA vacuum if you are dry cutting? Do you vacuum dust and small particulates or are you pushing them around with a broom? Are you standing on your trusty old bucket on top of a stack of tiles for that little extra reach? 

You just imagined what can happen when you’re not following safety precautions in these examples. You also realize that the undesired results are solved by preventive steps: ones that you already know you should be doing or using. Those undesired results are called “accidents” because no one meant for them to happen. But usually when looking back on an accident, you see a simple way it could have been avoided. 

Accidents and mistakes are often the result of the same cause: skipping steps you are already aware of but avoid because they are inconvenient. Those are steps meant to protect you or create an intended result, like safety glasses. You don’t mean to catch a piece of metal with your eye; it was an “accident” that could have been avoided had you donned your glasses. We conveniently call them accidents because we feel better not having to admit to making a mistake or error in judgement. That’s the way it works with safety. “Accidents” are something you can PLAN to AVOID. 

Several of you just smiled. You know what you ARE NOT doing. What will it take for you to do it better? Take a moment now to think about how you are going to change three things to make you safer, healthier and to save you a bunch of money long-term in either productiveness or lost time savings. Start with simple things like spending a few more minutes an hour keeping your work area cleaner. Keep your equipment clean and well-maintained (which helps it last longer and work more effectively). Finally, are you actually wearing your safety glasses or making an excuse not to? 

Start with small steps to help you avoid accidents, and I will bet that you can find a few big ones that will make your business better. Talk with your teams about why it’s important and that you support good safety practices. Like I said before, it’s good practice and good business.  

Chris Walker
NTCA President
Vice President, David Allen Company
Chairman, ANSI A-108
Chairman, US TAG ISO TC-189
Board of Directors ABC-VA
Voting Member TCNA Handbook
Voting Member
NTCA Reference Manual