Safety isn’t Cheap

Safety isn’t Cheap * Yet the Turnaround is Priceless


Even after the numbers are announced in April about the injuries and fatalities, it still bewilders me when an OH&S Department is mitigated to a state of non-existence.  

Just having  the appearance of safety is what really causes injuries or worse. When you buy a premade jump bag, the slings that come with it are undersized cheese cloth. Construction workers are bigger than years long past, yet the material and dimensions are still the same. I remember once using 4 slings to hold up and secure a patient’s injured arm. His size and pure girth demanded it.  I’m not saying we need the best of equipment, however we need better than the basics That just gets us by. If left to my own devices, I prefer going to the second-hand stores, purchasing old bed sheets, bleach them in a wash 2 or 3 times and cut out 4 X 4-foot squares.

Far too often the “Appearance of Health and Safety” is good enough. WHY? Hasn’t everybody who’s not in the OH&S field realized it just doesn’t work. On a construction site, the Site Safety * First Aider should be completely separate from the production. Yet we do our part to advance production. But when it comes to building guardrails, safety stands or notice boards, we shouldn’t have to feel the need to beg for materials and fasteners. As well the first aider is the one who should be purchasing the tools of their craft, not a person in administration.

The First aid attendant should always be the one in condole of the F.A. Supplies. Nobody else and never lock them away out of reach of your first aid attendant. Yes, some micro managers do.  When management decides to separate the two, they run the risk of a minor situation spiraling out of control. That action could cost a life. Do they even realize that they could be sentenced to a term in jail for such an action? I wonder if that thought ever went through the mind of Vadim Kazenelson when his managerial decision caused the death of 4 workers on Christmas Eve? Those workers died due to him failing to supply fall protection, even though it was on location. Just because it’s there, don’t make it accessible.

   Damn rights Safety isn’t Cheap

The Turnaround is indeed Priceless.  When you allow a knowledgeable and experienced safety professional and first aid attendant to do his job and have the authority to effect change when needed you ultimately increase your company’s’ profits. Yes, it will cost you a lot at the beginning. In British Columbia, most if not all Sector 72 General Construction sites with multiple trades fall under the “High Risk” category. Furthermore at 31 people and within 20 minutes surface travel time to the closest hospital you will still need a vast amount of first aid gear and a facility Schedule 3-A. This includes not just the working trades, but sales, deliveries, office staff, inspectors and more. 

For such a construction site, the guidelines are pretty damn clear. A level 2 kit is required  as well a  first aid room. These are the bare minimum criteria set forth by WorkSafe BC. However, do we have to set the bar at the bare minimum. Guidelines G3.18(2) states:

In order to provide effective treatment, the equipment, facilities, and attendant must be accessible and first aid must be administered to the worker as soon as practicable after the injury or disease, in accordance with the practices and standards found in the attendant’s training program.”

Still to this day there are some who Don’t get it, Don’t care about it, Cheap out when purchasing it, Seriously mitigate the ones who are trained to provide it, and will be the ones who go to jail because they are the ones responsible when a worker unnecessarily physically suffers from an injury due to the lack of them not providing it. Those are the ones who have no business in construction, providing the required needs for the first aid attendant and safety personnel, and making decisions about it. The best solution is for them to just stay the hell out of it. Just let us handle it.

So, what’s the Turnaround of great safety and first aid. A construction company with an outstanding Occupational Health and Safety Program, that allows the professionals to make the decisions is one that developers will contract for projects. Why? Because safety is PR. Ask yourself this. Would you want to buy a house, condo or an apartment from a developer whose Management Company or Prime Contractor allowed workers to get injured or worst because of the money saving attitude and micro managing of the OH&S department. I would be thinking that if they handled their own personnel in such a poor manner that they might construct the building in the same way.  Cutting corners and taking short cuts to save a buck.

Does the structure really have the right material and correct fasteners to hold it all together? Is the electrical safe, will the plumbing leak? They refused to provide adequate equipment for their first aid person to take care of their own workers. Why would they even care for strangers after the project is finished. If you take good care of your workers and provided the necessities of safety and first aid without being cheap and micro managing, chances are you’re the type to do it right and take care of the strangers who are the purchasers after the project is complete.

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Posted in Construction Safety.

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With several years in Construction, a vast amount in Masonry, when I turned 40 it was time for a change. Occupational Health and Safety was a calling I wish I discovered when I was younger. With over 30 years experience now in the trades, I have a knowledge base I wish to pass on.

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