Dealing With OSHA Inspectors: The Best Defense is a Good Offense
In the competitive world of construction, sports references are often used to communicate goals, objectives, strategies and the exponential strength of a company’s management and employees working for a common goal. Just as the Dallas Cowboys must train year-round, strategically plan for each game and execute every Sunday, KPOST Company commercial roofing and waterproofing contractor must also bring it’s “A” game every day because its projects are high-profile; such as the construction of the roof of the AT&T Stadium where those Cowboys play.
At first glance, the expression, “The best defense is a good offense” seems like another sports reference. In fact, it originally came from Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz from his book ‘On War.’ According to the book, if one side does nothing but defend itself from an opposing side, he will inevitably be worn down and defeated because the other side is free to constantly regroup and attack endlessly. The general opined, “the only option to successfully defend against an opponent is to go on the offensive.”
How to Reduce the Leading Causes of Construction Deaths
Whether it’s on the sports field, battlefield or construction site, being pro-active – having an aggressive offense – about safety issues is the absolute best defense against work stoppage and fines which can occur when the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors show up unannounced at a job site. This the approach KPOST uses.
Why do these inspectors aggressively pursue worksite safety? The statistics tell the tale.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013. On average, that’s 12 workers killed every day. The agency notes that 20.3 percent of these fatalities (1 in 5) occurred in the construction industry and the leading cause of death was falls, followed by struck by object. Better training and safety practices can lower the number of workers killed on the job.
In terms of violations reported by OSHA in fiscal year 2014, here are the top-five, most frequently sited:
1. Fall protection, construction
2. Hazard communication standard, general industry
3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
4. Respiratory protection, general industry
5. Powered industrial trucks, general industry
The KPOST game plan for defending every project starts with an emphasis on proactively training and re-training every employee and rigorously instilling a culture of safety. This effort is managed by KPOST CFO and Safety Officer, Jayne Williams
A Culture of Safety: It’s Just Good Business
As the Chief Financial Officer and Safety Officer, Jayne Williams is laser-focused on the bottom line. She has seen, first-hand, the business advantages of KPOST’s impeccable safety record.
“We want our jobs to run on-schedule and on-budget but even more importantly we want our employees to come home every night,” she said. “On-going safety training is critical to meeting these three objectives.”
“Our company has one of the best workman’s compensation insurance rates in the roofing industry because we are relentless in the pursuit of safe practices,” Williams noted. “This emphasis on safety is more than just a way to avoid OSHA fines or work-stoppage. It’s also good business. The less we have pay on insurance – due to our low low rates driven by our safety record – the more competitive our estimates for construction can be,” she noted.
If Jayne is the coach of the KPOST safety team, Luciano Perez is the quarterback. As the company’s Safety Manager/Certified Safety and Health Official, Luciano has been recognized by the construction industry on numerous occasions, the most recent being his being awarded the TEXO Specialty Safety Professional of the Year in December 2014.
“Our approach to safety is unique in our industry,” noted Williams. “We have people such as Luciano who are absolutely dedicated to safety management in all KPOST work . With his training, he has the equivalent of a ‘Master’s Degree in Safety,’” she smiled.
“We have built a culture of safety at KPOST,” she said. “From the time an employee joins our team, we instill this culture with on-going, rigorous training and incentives for excellence. Again, the most important objective for us is that our employees make it home to their families every night.”
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