This Memorial Day weekend I experienced holding new life as I met our little granddaughter for the first time. Ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. She already has a personality all of her own and her preferences as we all do.
We stayed at a hidden gem in Gainesville called Sweetwater Branch Inn, bed and breakfast. I am writing to you from the rocking chair on the front porch of our little cottage. As Memorial Day thoughts enter my mind with thankfulness for those that have served our country and especially those who lost their lives doing so, my mind shifts to the similarities in the construction industry.
Since 2001 we have lost 6250 US troops including the fatalities from Iraq and Afghanistan. 45,170 US troops have been wounded physically, and we all know the mental health conditions that accompany those who served on our front lines. There are currently just under 1.4 million people serving in our branches of the Military in the US.
According to the US Department of labor statistics, there have been over 53,000 deaths in the construction industry since 2001. Currently, 10.5 million people are working in the construction industry. We all know despite that number being ten times the military, we still have a massive shortage of qualified trade professionals.
Each of these deaths, military, and construction, are someone’s baby that was held in amazement and grew to be loved by many who prayed for their safe return every day from their chosen profession.
How can we reduce the death statistics in Construction?
OSHA has not been able to reduce the number for over twenty years. I believe it comes from the top down and it starts with safety being as crucial to the back of the house as the field. An Executive that speaks and writes to Safety most likely has safety as a priority. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make Safety a separate line item at the annual planning meeting. Present budgets and a plan for review, sign- off on and assign responsibility to carry out the program and monitor accountability.
- Monthly, the Executive Team monitors the status of the plan explicitly, reviewing accountability, milestones and victories.
- Ensure the Executive Team fully enforces safety violations and improper attitudes toward a safe workplace.
- Plan a minimum of one annual event celebrating a safe workplace and sharing the executive’s heart and vision when it comes to safety. Celebrate your employees that champion safety so others will want to follow.
- Add additional training on team building and communication to the standard OSHA training.
If you have personally known those that have lost their lives in the military and/or construction, you know how difficult it is for their co-workers and family left behind. We are fortunate to have organizations like Construction Angels that are there for initial help, but the reality is someone lost their baby, and most of the time in construction it is preventable.
Remember every day in construction all give, but some will give all. Currently, that is 14 lives on average each day! Make time to implement and Celebrate a Safe Workplace. If you do, when that time comes where your team loses someone, the others will know your heart because your actions have spoken loud and clear. Safety is a priority for you!