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Safety: The overriding principle for accomplishing our work

By Dennis Donahou,

UBC Southern District Vice President

 

There is no component of a construction project - building new, renovating, and working in an industrial environment or doing tenant improvement - as important as safety.  This year’s construction safety week promoted the theme “It’s in our hands.” I thought it was not only timely to discuss safety, but I also believe the phrase takes on a longer, more extensive meaning.


Safety week for UBC Southern District carpenters and millwrights is not just one week in May - it’s every single day on every single job site, for every single member working his tools.

 

The best way to keep crews productive and contractors profitable is to keep everyone healthy and working. Accidents translate into time lost for that worker and his contractor, damaged materials and the effects of lost production as a result of the distraction. One mishap and a worker’s life can be changed forever.


Construction is a dangerous profession and it typically leads all private-sector occupations in deaths. Economic loss from illness, injury or loss of life annually reaches into the billions of dollars for workers and their families. Intrinsic losses to family, employers, and supporting occupations are incalculable.


Safety is not just a belief, or even part of the task list. It’s the overriding principle for accomplishing our work. Our goal is a safety partnership with owners to protect our greatest asset and the owner’s investment. Our objective is to remove job site injuries, time lost and higher project costs due to illness or accidents, worker disabilities and workers compensation claims, and death.


UBC standards on job site safety include:

  • instilling a core value of safe work by everyone, from apprentices to superintendents, via continuous training
  • teaming with General Contractors, Project Managers, specifiers and owners on a project’s safety program to identify, assess, monitor, manage and eliminate risks
  • consistent safety-related communications among all stakeholders prior to and throughout the project’s life cycle
  • meeting and exceeding the highest level of OSHA and other industry safety standards
  • reinforcing zero-tolerance from our carpenters and millwrights regarding safety infractions and near-misses
  • ensuring that the level of safety training meets and exceeds the level of inherent risk factors


We accomplish these standards through aggressive leadership, a conviction to a safety-conscious job site environment, and the determination to achieve zero accidents. Adherence to safe work does not change because of accelerated schedules, change orders, or difficult working conditions. Instead, it becomes an even more important factor. We strive to remove the potential for unsafe acts and unsafe conditions at all times.


UBC Southern District members are rigorously trained in safety from the first day of their apprenticeship and throughout their career. They acquire the skills, knowledge and preparation to be safe workers by focusing on: 

  • Personal accountability - especially when no one is watching
  • Responsibility to others
  • Understanding the owner’s safety expectations of the project
  • Identifying and calling attention to unique hazardous or unsafe factors 
  • Safe performance
  • Safe behavior in and around the hot work areas
  • Safe task completion
  • Maintaining current safety, human performance, first-aid, and OSHA certifications and qualifications
  • Effective communication with co-workers and supervisors during dangerous tasks 


UBC training, whether it is through the International Training Center in Las Vegas, or your local training center throughout our 11-state jurisdiction, is your best tool to keep yourself and your brothers and sisters safe. I urge you to look at your local training center schedule and take a safety class. Employers can participate in established courses, or team with our staff to find programs that will suit their needs. We can provide ongoing safety support or rapid response to issues if needed.


When we perform work safely, we enable our contractors to minimize safety issues, which make these contractors more attractive to safety-conscious owners. Project objectives are attained at all levels, and everyone returns to their families at the end of the workday.


National Construction Safety Week may have ended, but it’s a core value of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters’ Southern District membership to hold safety as the highest priority on our job sites, everyday.


Be safe everyone.