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Construction Health & Safety

The Importance of Safety Fundamentals

January 28, 2020

In the last several weeks, our VERTEX Occupational Health & Safety (H&S) Consulting Group has taken on three completely different projects for three completely different clients.

  • Litigation Support involving review of excavation safety practices that happened to be associated with a construction defects suit;
  • Assisted a General Contractor who is constructing a 20+ story mixed-use building on a parcel with contaminated soils; and
  • Fall protection consulting for the in-house maintenance employees of a financial institution who need to service a ventilation unit on the roof of a building they lease.

But the approach was very similar in each scenario – we followed the safety fundamentals.

Safety Fundamentals

To be sure that the guidance we provide our clients is technically correct, fits in a company’s safety culture, and is defensible, we need to approach assignments in a consistent process. We consider the following:

  • Our observations and data results;
  • The client’s business and safety goals;
  • Regulatory requirements;
  • Best management practices; and
  • The safety culture of the organization.

Observations and Data

Our observations are often the most important value we can provide to our clients. What we see with our eyes, our observations represent our knowledge of a process, and our experience derived from our decades of working in a wide range of industries. Generating data, for example, measuring personal airborne exposures, is sometimes required for determining regulatory compliance as required by OSHA in the USA, but most often it is our eyes that discern what is going on in a workplace scenario.

Business and Safety Goals

The client’s business and safety goals. Most companies have business goals but not all companies have safety goals. VERTEX designs our recommendations to be consistent with our client’s business goals and philosophies. Sometimes our recommendations will be phased in over time or managed by a particular department, so VERTEX works closely with our client’s team to be sure that there is an understanding of the path to improved employee safety and that our recommendations are implemented in an efficient manner.

Health & Safety Regulations and Best Practices

Health & Safety Regulations may drive some of our recommendations and our clients’ decisions. The use of respiratory protection or fall protection equipment, for example, is determined by following very specific regulations in which our Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH) and Certified Safety Professionals (CSP) are well-versed. Our professionals apply the regulations to our clients’ specific scenarios to enhance compliance and worker safety and health. Our sophistication enables us to understand the nuances in the regulations that contribute to compliance without overspending.

Regulatory compliance is often the threshold level of safety. It may keep OSHA at bay, but not offer real employee safety or health. For example, OSHA requires the use of hearing protection devices, such as earplugs or muffs at 90dBA, time-weighted over an 8-hour shift. However, we know that hearing loss can take place at 80-85dBA and that hearing loss is cumulative over time. Therefore, an employee may experience hearing loss and a company may deal with workers’ compensation cases due to not providing employees with hearing protection between 80dBA and 90dBA. Our H&S professionals understand these idiosyncrasies and therefore discuss with our clients’ regulatory requirements and best management practices to bring practical health and safety to their employees.

Safety Culture

The safety culture of an organization is demonstrated by what employees do when they are not being watched. Do the employees defeat electrical interlocks on machines when the foreman is not watching? Do they wear their personal protective equipment when the safety manager is not around? VERTEX Occupational H&S consultants have taken the best aspects of companies from across industries and combined that with our knowledge of employee psychology to advise our clients on creating or enhancing a workplace culture that goes beyond regulatory compliance and engenders an atmosphere where leadership and employees take ownership for and nurture safety and health.

Occupational Health & Safety Services

In all our assignments, we value the trust our clients have in VERTEX. Our Occupational H&S Consultants look at the fundamentals of each workplace exposure, whether in construction or manufacturing, addressing personal exposure to airborne contaminants or noise or office ergonomics, and deliver solutions that add value and build a safety and health culture that goes beyond compliance, striving to exceed our clients’ business and safety goals.

For more information on VERTEX’s Occupational Health & Safety Services or to speak with a Health & Safety Expert, call 888.298.5162 or submit an inquiry.

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