In the Heart of Busy Season, Putting Safety First

Independence Day was just a few weeks ago. That means fireworks.

And each year around this time, we hear of situations where  fireworks celebrations go horribly wrong. Take this list from Newsweek, highlighting some of the more gruesome ways that people injured themselves this past year. Fair warning—it’s not for the faint of heart.

It got me thinking a bit about safety. Fireworks, in this example, can be a fun expression of patriotism, and can be used safely and responsibly—but only when the right safety precautions are taken.

What does any of this have to do with commercial fenestration? Consider all the potentially hazardous situations workers in our industry put themselves in every day. Whether there are enormous panes of glass moving throughout a plant floor, or we’re glazing those panels onto a high-rise façade, working safely and following best practices are some of the most important things anyone in our industry can do every day.

It’s worth investigating that thought a little further. Summer means fireworks and cookouts, but it also means busy season. And when we’re working so tirelessly to keep up with demand, to get product out the door, to finish glazing projects on time, it can be easy to lose sight of some of those little things that help ensure we’re working safely.

Commitment to Safety

At the end of the day, who is responsible for safety? It’s not just one person—it’s shared by everyone, from employer to employee.

From the employer perspective, safety can seem like a number. How many OSHA violations we did or didn’t commit in a calendar year. How many accidents occurred on the floor (hopefully, that number is zero). But are we committing to safety for the numbers, or for the people and the families that they support? I hope it’s for the latter, and I think it’s important to sometimes take a step back and recognize the reality of working safely.

And of course, it’s a two-way street. From a worker perspective, I wrote recently about the “employee of the future” and the types of skills that person will need to drive success. An ongoing focus on safety is one of those skills. An employee’s unsafe decision doesn’t just affect that person—it affects the people all around them. We need to make sure both employers and employees are continuing to make that commitment to safe working practices to each other.

Common Sense

Part of this commitment is common sense. We all have a sense of what safe behavior looks like and what it doesn’t look like.

Maybe you could cut a corner here or there. Maybe your job that day will be performed more quickly. And perhaps it won’t affect you that day. But your odds of causing an accident or injury add up. No matter how busy we are, it’s worth taking that step back to make sure we’re acting and working in such ways that safety is prioritized. If we make safety a true part our culture it will drive accountability to each other and promote good common sense decision making that become second nature.

Consider the Cost

Another part of making a commitment to safety is considering the full cycle of people that we impact when making safe—or unsafe—decisions. A shop floor accident can cause injury or worse to the victim. It affects that person’s family. It affects the company, from insurance claims to shut down costs. And especially if it’s a small business, those effects can be catastrophic—affecting other employees and their families.

In short, safety is a ripple effect. It’s not just today, and not just this action, but what might result weeks, months and years from the moment those small decisions are made each day.