Everyone is responsible for safety at work
Everyone – from the managing director to the project coordinator to the summer trainee – has the right to leave work unharmed and in good health. In this respect, there should be no room for compromise. However, occupational safety is often regarded as a hindrance on construction sites and is limited to the use of protective eyewear and safety shoes. Safety at work should be seen as a comprehensive whole that unites the entire construction industry.
The work atmosphere has a significant effect on occupational safety. A good team spirit on the construction site, as well as appropriate tools and protective equipment, ensures a high level of safety. Mistakes occur less often when it feels good to go to work, clear goals have been set and appropriate instructions have been provided.
Sufficient nutrition, sleep and looking after one’s body ensure safety
I work for the HVAC contracting unit for commercial and office property construction. Recently, I have noticed that an unfortunately high number of technicians have retired because of illness or disability, or have entered retraining. Most of them are middle-aged men who have neglected to look after their bodies or whose bodies have sustained damage because of weak spots. This does not need to be the case.
I have started to remind younger technicians of the importance of sufficient sleep, good nutrition and looking after their bodies. It is important to wear a helmet, but it is at least equally important to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation reduces your concentration and may cause you to overlook risks.
Looking after your body keeps it strong and alert. This helps you avoid strains and musculoskeletal injuries, which are common in the field of contracting. Good nutrition gives you energy for the whole day. None of these aspects receive enough consideration or appreciation.
Focusing on young employees
We must always invest in the future, and this also applies to safety at work. For this reason, it is important for companies to keep in mind that young people are inexperienced with regard to occupational safety. It is always great to see older technicians advise and be protective of young people who have just started their on-the-job training period. These young employees represent the future and thereby offer an opportunity to reduce and eliminate accidents. Together with the foreman, I have implemented strict policies on the safety of young people on construction sites. In addition, I have emphasised aspects related to sleep, nutrition and looking after one’s body.
Sometimes it is difficult to convince a recently graduated technician that they are not invincible or immortal and that there is no need for everyone to make the same mistakes or learn things the hard way. Aspiring technicians should learn this on their first day at school, and an awareness of occupational safety and good ways of working should be fostered throughout their education, so that they do not need to learn everything on the construction site and in the occupational healthcare unit.
Learning the right way
Fortunately, these issues have been addressed at Are. The company supports exercise and offers opportunities to play floorball and ice hockey. The occupational healthcare unit also offers services provided by a physiotherapist, if needed. In addition, the company provides appropriate personal protective equipment. Our work clothes have been designed specifically for each group of employees, and they meet the statutory requirements as well as the company’s own standards. Employees can choose from a wide selection of shoes, protective eyewear and other personal protective equipment. The purpose is to ensure that the protective equipment is practical, comfortable and effortless to wear during work.
Safety at work is an extensive theme, and I could go on forever. In a nutshell: take good care of yourselves and your colleagues. We are all responsible for safety at work and for addressing any and all issues.
The writer is a project manager and an extreme sports enthusiast who has learned to use personal protective equipment at work and in his free time.