Safety in the Workplace – Changing How People Think

Safety in the workplace can no longer be an afterthought or an excuse for a lack of efficiency on a job. A safety program for a company must be as important as its business growth plan. Safety programs should be proactive and not a reaction to an accident. They should not be limited to just maintenance and installation companies. Any firm that comes in contact with an elevator must have its own safety program. This includes everyone: consulting companies, inspection companies, manufacturing/machine shops, etc. Programs should also be developed for all elevator workers: construction, maintenance, shop workers and even delivery drivers. This includes variations of personal protective equipment(PPE). Everyone is affected by safety in the workplace, and everyone should be involved.

Cutting corners to save time or money could result in a tragedy that could have been avoided with a good safety program.

A safety program should not be implemented as a reaction to an accident. At this point, it is too late but still necessary. The cost of implementing a safety program is far less than the cost of an injury or a fatality.

Most people who have been injured at work wish they could get those few seconds back prior to them being injured. Historically, most accidents happen on Monday morning or Friday afternoon, when the worker is distracted. These days should be focused upon in any good safety program. A proper safety program should consist of several key components that should involve both classroom and field training, and should be done in both individual and group settings. A good safety program will be structured with a solid backbone but must be able to adapt to our ever-changing environment. The key components of any safety plan must include weekly “Toolbox Talks” and monthly process audits, proper use and training of PPE, and PPE audits.

We in the elevator industry have a great tool available to us that is seldom used to its full benefit. This tool, the Elevator Industry Field Employees’ Safety Handbook, must be implemented in a more widespread manner. This handbook was designed to provide the elevator industry with a resource to be used to prevent accidents from happening due to unsafe acts or conditions. I am amazed when I am introduced to a new company for safety training and no one in the room has ever seen this handbook, or, the ones who have it do not refer to it. This handbook does not cover every situation, yet it will give the individual a great reference or baseline for safety.

There are several outside resources available for safety training these days. OSHA has certified instructors that lead both classroom and online training. Upon completion of this training, the participant will receive OSHA 10- or 30-hr. certification. Check with your local AHJ to make sure it accepts online OSHA certification. Also, companies like NAESA International and the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund offer elevator safety instruction for continuing-education credits. Elevator World, Inc. offers Toolbox Talks (goo.gl/YcdFwG). The app (p. 86) is a great tool for oversight of the overall program. These Toolbox Talks will allow safety mangers to both score and analyze the data from their employees. With this real, live data, their safety program can then be tailored to reflect deficiencies. Follow-up audits in this full-circle program can be conducted to make sure the employee knows the proper way to work safe.

NAESA is the driving force behind the Elevator Industry Safety Summit, taking place in Phoenix on May 21-23. This summit will be a get-together in the interest of elevator-industry worker fatality prevention and enhanced rider safety. The mission will be to establish a safety standard for the elevator industry going forward.

Industry professionals need to lead by example when it comes to safety. Everyone in a company, from an owner to an apprentice, must buy into the safety program. At the end of the day, the mission for every person involved in our industry must be safety. It is our responsibility to protect the riding public and look out for each other. Every person involved in our industry must strive to bring accident and fatality numbers to zero.

I will end this article with a discussion I was having the other day with one of my colleagues. We started to discuss a safety scenario, and he started to explain how the aforementioned Safety Handbook states how to perform a procedure and how he has been performing this procedure another way to save time, even though he knew that his way was dangerous. I stopped him mid sentence and asked him if he would let a family member he cares about preform this task in the manor that he described. The conversation ended quickly when he realized how foolish he was sounding. So, my new motto when it comes to safety is, “Would you let someone you care about do it that way?” Everyone needs to be safe! Cutting corners to save time or money could result in a tragedy that could have been avoided with a good safety program.

Gregory DeCola is an owner of Omega Industries, an elevator consulting, inspection and education company based in New York City. DeCola holds several licenses, sits on multiple local and three national code committees, and is also an instructor for NAESA International and a certified OSHA trainer.

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