As a leader in the life safety industry, we must set the precedent of ‘safety’ in a comprehensive, general sense. An overall, clean safety rating is one of the most important attributes when being considered for project selection by customers and contractors alike. When asked to furnish OSHA reports, depending on the level in which a company ranks and how many reported incidents occur annually, you may or may not qualify to work on certain jobs with preferred customers. This directly impacts each department and their ability to secure bids and sustain customer trust.
It is imperative to make safety a top priority within your organization. Chris Smith is the Corporate Safety Director at International Fire Protection and is stationed out of their corporate office in Madison, Ala. Smith answered the following five questions, which get right down to the heart of the importance of safety on a day-to-day basis within our industry.
1. Which types of accidents are most commonly reported both on and off job sites?
“Mostly slips, trips and falls. Whether on the ground level or an elevated surface, these can result in a sprain or strain report. In the construction industry, the reason we see an increase in sprains or strains is mostly from minor mishaps in the field and due to the overall aging workforce. The most dangerous, however, is distracted driving.”
2. Do you find internal safety reminders generally effective?
“Yes, however, it depends on the attitude of the specific crew. Many managers respond back with comments and questions about issued safety tips. Every district keeps a “toolbox talk” file on safety discussions each week. District Managers supplement other in-house training methods as well. We have over twelve courses on Vivid, an online learning remedial training, which keeps staff abreast of new safety initiatives through educational resources and tools. In addition, there are over fifty optional courses for field personnel (i.e. asbestos, basic first aid, chemical safety, distracted driving) and some for human resources (discrimination, sexual harassment, violence) that are geared more towards the corporate and district office environments.”
3. Any cool, new safety products or tools on the market we should purchase for the business or be able to offer to customers?
“Cellcontrol drive ID units. Our parent company is in beta testing with these devices now. It is a device that links to your smartphone and turns off certain functions of the phone while employees are driving. The application sends a notification to the appointed administrator that the device has been disabled. This reduces the liability and potential lawsuits that ensue, which have resulted in millions of dollars of settlements because employees were on business calls or answering emails during an auto accident. Also, there is Riskonnect, a risk management information system (R.M.I.S.), which allows us to login and do job site audits for each of our districts. We are adding more forms to it, which will allow us to complete job hazard analysis.”
4. What safety initiative would you like to implement and what makes you so passionate about this one in particular?
“I would like to see daily huddles and job hazard analyses used more frequently; at the start of the day and any time the environment or task changes on a job site. It has the potential to raise hazard awareness and reduce injuries. We have seen this method in action and it works, however we do not have the right tools to do it at every site every time. With Riskonnect, it will become standard practice. The job site audits are a makeshift analysis, and we do see an immediate decline in the amount of injuries when it is implemented.”
5. How do you see the advancement in technology changing the future of our industry as it relates to safety? (i.e. will robots replace humans for high risk tasks, etc.?)
“We have already seen the impact of modular construction within our industry. It reduces the amount of construction workers needed on the site and could lead to safer conditions for high risk tasks.”
Written by Tarah Cicirelli – Business Development at International Fire Protection, Inc.