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Safety Leadership In Residential Construction

Safety. We hear the word every day.  Most companies tout safety as one of their top priorities   which is why I have been surprised at the number of times I have walked onto a construction site and found the simplest of things that either violates basic safety principles or does not address equipment condition protection.  This type of safety scan is ingrained in me as a result of a twenty year career with Duke Energy – a company that truly focuses on safety first.

Recently, I toured a residential construction site where a contractor was completing the demolition phase of a project.  Boards with nails still in them were intertwined with power cords, sawzalls, hammers, etc.  In a safe work environment, power cords should be elevated off of the floor and out of harms way – to make sure that the cord is protected, but also eliminating any potential trip hazard.    As I walked through the site I noted a particular cord that had been damaged. I pointed this out to the demolition subcontractor who immediately taped up the cord and went back to work. While I was appreciative of the quick response on the subcontractors part to address this safety concern, he missed opportunity to take the proper course of action.   The  cord was still a safety concern and it should have been removed from service and a replacement used.

Safety inattentiveness seems to be more pervasive in the residential building world than in the commercial or industrial world. It is not because the contractors haven’t been exposed to safe work practices, as many work in both residential and commercial construction environments. I believe it is due to a lack of leadership – residential contractors are not being held to an appropriate safety standard by their leaders.

At DENTONBUILT, we are changing that paradigm. Our safety program is available to all of our contractors and we expect them to follow it.  We ask each contractor to sign a safety acknowledgement form stating that not only have they read the policy but they intend to practice its policies.  As our team members supervise sites we remind our contractors and enforce these policies as safety is everyone’s responsibility. Culturally, we understand it will take time and constant reminders as our contractors adapt to practice our safety policies, but they will.  We have already begun to see the changes.

Basic safety precautions can save lives, injury, job time and money.  No shortcut or lack of attention is worth the “savings” it may produce.  Every leader should “inspect what they expect” and make sure that everyone is paying attention to safety and goes home at the end of the day in the same or better shape than they arrived on the job-site.

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