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Home | DALLAS / FORT WORTH | Focus | Focus - Stop, think, act

Focus - Stop, think, act

image Darren Alexander, EHS Manager, Air Conditioning Innovative Solutions (ACIS), McKinney, TX

DALLAS/FT WORTH - What do you consider are the major safety risks in construction? Falls are a top priority, working from ladders, slips, trips and falls. Never forget about housekeeping.





What are ways to identify and reduce safety risks?
    Stop, Think, Act – Stop and evaluate the task; think how it will be accomplished, then act in a safe manner. Training related to the type of work is essential in order to evaluate risk and recognize hazards associated with the task.
How important is a good safety record in the construction industry?
    A good safety record is very important. It is a major part, if not the most important part, of a business’ reputation. The safety record and reputation can be very impactful on insurance cost, EMR, securing job contracts, etc. In addition, how employees conduct themselves, safely and professionally, is the difference between repeat business and maybe no business in the future. Companies do not need a liability on their jobsite. They need the peace of mind that all employees are trained and not only know how to work safely, but will work safely and not take shortcuts.
How does construction safety impact your company?

    Construction safety is a big part of our company. We are many times the subcontractor to a general contractor and this requires us to demonstrate a safe professional attitude at all times. We have to work every day to rise above the competition and always do what is right. I learned years ago from a mentor to always do what is right and let the cards fall where they fall. So when I came to work at ACIS, their guarantee was,  “We Do it Right or We Make it Right,” I knew I was at the right place.
Does an increase in the volume of construction affect safety?    
Realistically, I would say no. It is the mindset of each employee. With increased workload and tight schedules, safety can get squeezed and appear to be less important, sure. But with proper training and company culture it is easy to remind everyone what is important – Safety & Risk Reduction. Each employee must keep their safety and the safety of everyone around them in the forefront of their mind.
What can be done to increase safety awareness and create a safe working environment?
    Safety is personal, we have all heard this slogan and many others, but to me safety is about people, I am in the people business, building trust, effective relationships, energizing the team, providing training that allows the employee to be informed, and educated. People want to do the right thing and if given the right tools to make the right decisions they will succeed every time.

What safety training programs are available? In-house programs? Outsourcing? Associations?
    We have been creating a library of online safety training that employees can take and are required to take depending on job title, positions, etc. In addition we outsource some specific training such as Powered Industrial Trucks or Confined Space Training. I personally belong to American Society of Safety Engineers and attend multiple trainings to stay up to date on new standards and state of the art safety methodologies.
What are some of the safety training program types? Equipment? Jobsite? Other?

    Online training, instructor led training, job specific training, hazard recognition, rescue equipment, proper ladder usage, equipment inspection, etc.
Have there been recent advances in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)?

    PPE is always advancing, from improved rescue equipment to basic safety glasses. The key seems to always be around style and comfort. If it is comfortable and makes the employee look good, they want to wear it. I think that is important, but for me it must also perform to protect the employee. PPE advancements range from improved hearing protection, fall harnesses, SRL’s and gloves and are always improving and very important. Most all will agree injuries to our hands are way too frequent.
What is on the horizon for the safety industry? Changes in technology; Equipment; Other?
    I think one of the biggest challenges the safety industry faces today is continuing to transition the cost effectiveness of a good safety process. Great strides have been made on this endeavor over the last decade but there is still work to be completed on this front.
What is the most significant challenge your company faces regarding safety Language barrier?
    The language barrier is and will continue for some time.  You can run into many different languages from the many Hispanic workers, to just as many owners and other nationalities in America today, in boardrooms to the construction site. Getting people to understand the safety language, acronyms, and best practices can be difficult.

Does increased construction volume, costs or other factors significantly challenge how your company approaches safety concerns?
    Cost is always a challenge. Keeping costs down all while spending more money on PPE, safety equipment, supplies, etc. will always be a challenge in finding low cost-effective providers of quality safety equipment.
How are you dealing with these challenges?
    Networking and building effective relationships with vendors and suppliers and taking advantage of deals and specials when available are vital. This all ties together to knowing the best time to buy and have the equipment and supplies when needed. Again, I am in the people business, from the supplier, vendor, management, employee, etc., and it is a great revolving circle of building trust, effective relationships, energizing the team, and providing training.

Darren is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and a member of American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), where he has served as the Fort Worth vice president, and president. He has also served as the ASSE Region III student leadership conference chair, and senior advisor for the past 6 years. In addition, has served as the ASSE Society on several joint task force initiatives over the last 14 years. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net