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TALK #5

Why Do Some Workers Act Like “Children” When it Comes to Safety?

You tell children to act or behave in a certain way. Most times they do, but sometimes not. Why not? Some children may forget, some may be careless, but unfortunately a few know they shouldn’t do a certain thing – but do it anyway. Is it the same with workers?

Case in point – The following involves some basic safety construction safety infractions that I see often, and I’m confident that the employees or subcontractors committing the infraction know they are committing a safety infraction, but do it anyway.

1. Why is it that some employees will put on a safety harness but not tie that harness “off” when necessary?

This infraction is so common that I now carry binoculars with me to construction sites to get a better look at employees and subcontractors working “up high” to see if they’re “tied-off” as necessary. Unfortunately, many are not.

2. Why is it that I see so many employees and subcontractors using ladders improperly?

The most common ladder infraction involves workers who work off the top of a stepladder; however I also see all too many extension ladders that are not secured or tied at the top, or extension ladders that don’t extend 3 feet above an upper landing.

3. Are they saving that much time, or are they just lazy?

But all too many construction workers still don’t wear safety glasses when cutting, chipping, grinding, etc. etc. Is the time saved by not getting that pair of glasses from the truck or the trailer worth losing an eye? No sensible person would make that trade.

4. Why don’t construction workers wear seatbelts?

Just walk your jobsite and look closely at the Heavy Equipment Operators or employees operating Lulls, Forklifts or other equipment or vehicles. It’s my guess that all too often those workers won’t be secured with a seatbelt.

5. Is it better to be macho – or to be safe?

Ask that question in a safety meeting of new construction workers and you probably won’t like the answers you get. Or even more likely, you probably won’t even get any of the new workers to answer that question, similar to their behavior on the jobsite when they don’t ask questions when they should – so as to keep up that macho “look”.

A good way to finish this safety meeting is with a quote that’s attributed to the great American writer Mark Twain, whose wit was as sharp as any when he uttered this tidbit on safety:

“It’s better to be careful 100 times than to get killed once.”

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