May 2-6 is National Safety Week, which recognizes the importance of safety on construction job sites around the country. Safety Week’s mission is to:
- Thank our workers for supporting safety and recognizing their efforts to be injury free
- Increase awareness of the importance of being committed to safety, every day
- Inspire all of us to share best practices and to work together to strengthen our industry’s safety culture
- Celebrate the need to be injury free
- Conduct on-site safety awareness activities to support education
To further highlight Safety Week, ABC of Wisconsin’s Nick Novak penned the below column, which was published by The Daily Reporter earlier this week.
Safety means getting everyone home, every day
It was Vince Lombardi that once said, “You don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time.”
Whether it is playing football or installing sheetrock 20 feet in the air, the Packer legend was right. There is no reason to give anything less than 100 percent, 100 percent of the time — especially when it comes to safety.
In the construction industry, there is plenty of disagreement and even more competition. But, that should all be put aside for now as we celebrate Safety Week. If there is one thing every contractor can get behind, it is the safety of his or her workers.
From Monday to Friday this week, construction companies and associations of all stripes will come together to highlight one goal: Getting everyone home safe, every day.
More than 40 organizations nationwide, including the Associated Builders and Contractors, have partnered to celebrate safety and the companies that engrain it in their culture. ABC of Wisconsin members that do this were awarded in February for their stellar records, and it is something that is stressed throughout the year.
To promote safety, many ABC members participate in the Safety Training Evaluation Process, better known as STEP. This program was developed by ABC for contractors to better evaluate their safety programs and find ways to improve their culture of safety. Nationally, members that use this system have seen incident rates drop by 51 percent.
Whether it is ABC members or other contractors across Wisconsin, safety should be a priority for everyone from the field to management levels. No matter what, job sites can be dangerous — an unfortunate element that is not going away. In fact, there are thousands of injuries on construction sites across the country every year. Luckily, many of these are preventable. Some of the most preventable injuries are those that occur from falls.
According to federal data, about one in four construction injuries are fall-related, and nearly one in three construction fatalities are fall-related. Even more eye-opening is that about half of fall fatalities are from 20 feet or less.
That means the hypothetical from the opening paragraph could be the beginning of a story with a bad ending. However, that worker should have nothing to worry about if the proper safety precautions have been taken.
And that is why the ABC of Wisconsin and other groups partner each year for Safety Week. It gives everyone in the construction industry an opportunity to highlight the importance of proper safety procedures.
This week is also National Safety Stand-Down, which is aimed at preventing falls in construction. This important annual event calls on those in the construction industry to take a break from the job to conduct a safety equipment inspection, discuss job site safety hazards, develop a rescue plan or some other activity related to safety.
So this week — and preferably every week — contractors should take time to educate workers on the importance of safety and recognize their employees for being safe. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other workers should not just be reprimanded for being unsafe, they should be celebrated for taking precautions where necessary.
In addition, share best practices with employees and conduct on-site safety awareness activities this week. All of these steps will lead to a safer job site, which needless to say is not only good for employees and their families, but also for the bottom line.
Safety Week and National Safety Stand-Down should not be the end of these activities, however. They are important efforts that should be taken every week of the year. For contractors already doing this, continue to do it. For those still working on improving their culture of safety, there is no better time to get started than this week.
Associated Builders and Contractors is a national trade association, representing more than 21,000 merit shop contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, manufacturers and construction-related professionals. With more than 800 members, the Wisconsin chapter is the largest in the country.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Nick Novak, 608-244-5883