Henry Staggs, RRO
September 1, 2020
You ARE the other guy!
Get ready to read another safety rant by Henry Staggs. If you want to call me and tell me, I am wrong, that is ok with me. Perhaps you can help me get it right, and then together, we share it with the world? Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And the first part of finding a solution is to recognize what the problem is. Before you pick up the phone or start typing an email, please hear me out. Then, by all means, let's talk. After all, we are talking about how to make sure our people go home alive and well every day. If that does not inspire passion, well, let's say I would not like to be friends with a person who did not have some passion when it comes to other people's lives.
In my day job as a roof consultant, I deal with various safety matters several times a week. Usually, the roofers "forgot" to tie off, or they "forgot" to cover-up openings on the roof deck. And a handful of other commonly overlooked or "forgotten" safety issues. The most critical being fall protection. A fall, even from a small distance, can be a life-changing or life-ending event. My friend and roofing contractor broke his leg in six places falling off a step ladder. We hold the record for deaths due to falls, and we have, it seems, from the day OSH became law. We are roofers, why are we falling off the roof? Does that make sense to you? That the people who work on the TOP of things they can fall off of. Have you not figured out how to NOT fall off?
"If I make them wear ropes, they will go down the road and work for the other guy who doesn't make them wear ropes" - Too many Contractors have said this to me
Like I said at the start of this blog, rant, or as I prefer to call it, a "Public Service Announcement." The first step to solving a problem is recognizing what the problem is. How can you even begin to search for a solution if you don't know what the problem is? Or worse, you think you do, and you're mistaken, and you make it worse. Been there and done that, but we move on, right? Live, learn, and hopefully get better. Take the quote just above this paragraph, for example. It seems like a reasonable statement that is probably true. But take a step back and look it from a different angle. This is one of those cases of thinking that you know what the problem is, but you are wrong.
Let me say this before I continue. OSH has been law since 1971 and for all that time, it has been and is the legal obligation of the employer to identify hazards and protect their employees from them. Sorry guys, but when the rubber meets the road. Contractors are 100% responsible for the safety and lives of everyone their employees. Some contractors and safety officials take the stance that at some point there is the personal choice. I get that, and it does make sense. However, that is not a problem. The problem is that they have a choice at all to make when it comes to safety. Contractors, when you decided to be a contractor you also decided to be the responsible party. These people work FOR YOU .. you keep them safe.
Alright, back to the point I am laboring to make here.
Take a step and look at that. This is to say, "If I make them [roofers] wear ropes, they will go down the road and work for the other guy who doesn't make them wear ropes". Do you see it? Can you see the problem?
If you are NOT making your guys tie off BECAUSE they might go down the street to the other guy who won't make them tie off.
YOU ARE THE OTHER GUY!
Do you see what I mean? If you are one of those contractors who feels this way, and it is a legit problem. They will walk off some times. I have seen it happen. But if you don't so, they won't walk. Aren't that other guy, the one the roofers are going to when the boss says "tie off"? It feels like I need to press this harder; I want to make sure I drive this point home.
If you DON'T
So they WON'T
You have made your self, by default, that other guy, roofers who don't like tying off, will go to.
"We always roof safe and if someone wants to walk-off a job because they don't like it? Good riddance" - Other contractors to me
Listen, guys, we are better than this. The roofing industry is fantastic and dynamic. One that can take a homeless kid and offer him a life long career. There is no other industry that does what we do. But we have to stop killing our workers by "forgetting" safety and looking the other way. Or being worried your workers might walk off the job. None of that is worth and a person's LIFE. And if we expect to attract much needed young people to the industry. We need to show them that we won't kill them.
The moral is
DON'T BE THAT OTHER GUY ... TIE OF OR GET OFF!