Here’s a New Year’s resolution for everyone on a construction site: make safety a priority in 2014. Checking that protective equipment fits, functions, and meets safety standards is great way to start. People already think of the new year as a time to review and take stock of their situation, whether personal or work-related. That means they’re more likely to be receptive to a safety services message.
Of course, some workers take a tough guy or girl attitude toward safety equipment, while others may prefer out-of-date or even broken equipment because it’s more comfortable or “broken in.” So it’s also important to emphasize that checking safety equipment can help workers comply with both company rules and government regulations.
Shoes and boots: Check for holes, rips or tears that might make slip-resistant soles less effective, or increase the chances of a puncture reaching the foot. Make sure that safety toe implants are firmly attached and have not worked loose.
Hard hats: Headgear should fit snugly, but not so tight they feel uncomfortable. Check that the bands inside the helmet are not worn, torn or cracked. Look for dents, cracks or weak spots on the outer shell.
Safety glasses: Eyewear should fit snugly and the frame or headgear should not be loose or cracked. Eye protection should have a specific rating for the hazard(s) the worker may face, whether, chemical, electrical, or others.
Gloves: Make sure gloves fit closely, but allow freedom of movement. Workers should make sure their gloves are rated for the work they do, i.e. working with heavy equipment, welding, electrical work, etc.
Hearing protection: Wear ear plugs or mufflers rated for the usual volume of noise around the work site (i.e. higher when drills or heavy equipment is in use.)
To help get the safety message across, try translating training materials and checklists into Spanish and any other languages commonly spoken on site. While safety equipment is important to every worker, some may not respond if they can’t fully understand the message.
Getting workers to “buy in” to safety can be a challenge, even when it is in their own best interests. That’s why an opportunity like the New Year is too good to pass up. Encourage workers and supervisors to make a new commitment to safety, and that habit can last throughout the year.