This week I look at on-site safety. This is perhaps the last blog for a while on the safety topic, and I thank one of my readers for asking me to complete this as they felt I had omitted an important safety area in this series. So here are some thoughts.
Positioning the vehicle
Most truck, van and pickup racks for glass and window transportation are set at 5 degrees of lean, as opposed to 7 degrees of lean for most factory handling trolleys. The reduced lean is so that the footprint required for the rack is minimised while still providing a safe leaning angle for when loading and unloading with the securing system (such as poles) removed.
A key for the safe unloading at sites is to have the rack at a safe lean for the conditions. Ideally this is perfectly flat ground, which is rare. We install an inclinometer on all our vehicles (click HERE to view) to give staff a factual visual representation of the lean of the vehicle and hence the rack. This needs to be linked to a safety policy which dictates if the vehicle can be unloaded or not. In most cases safe positioning can be achieved through unloading one side of the vehicle then turning the vehicle around and unloading the other side. Given the right tools this is not rocket science and should never be the cause for an injury.
From time to time I have a few beers with window and glass installers. Most will break into stories about risks they've taken to get the job done. There is a certain pride that installation staff take in getting things done on their own, or quickly, or where others would have failed. From a business owners perspective this can be good and bad – the bad being the consequences if and when things go wrong, as they will eventually. One of the problems with health and safety policy for site staff is that they are "out of site" and often "out of mind" for the management. "What happens on site stays on site". Maybe the new year is a good time to review your health and safety policies for site work, with a focus on ensuring that they are implemented and managed.
My old boating friend used to say that boating accidents happen when two things go wrong at once. For site work this is very much the case An injury is more likely to happen when for example a staff member is struggling with carrying a unit and someone else on site is doing similar work or creating an additional hazard. Some simple rules apply :
1. Have a health and safety policy. Encourage staff input so that they have some ownership. Document it. Print and bind it, and put it in all vehicles. Revisit it regularly at staff meetings. Enforce it
2. Log and review all safety incidents. Use these to teach staff of problems to avoid. Create a culture where safety risks are discussed openly
4. Create a culture where staff want to be safe
5. Create a culture where staff ask for help
6. Ensure management are role models for safe practise
A quote I hear regularly which burns my ears is "Those guys that set this policy just don't understand what its like on site. Sometimes you just have to break the rules to get the job done". That may be the case, and its vital that each and every case of rules being broken is fed back into the system to ensure that changes are made to avoid these situations in the future. In most cases its about providing staff with the tools they need to do the job, or coordination of the project, or availability of the right staff at the right time. None of this is hard.
Lets rid the industry of injury, fatigue, and unnecessary risk taking.