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Myths of Construction Safety

Talking about Myths of Construction Safety

By Yorlanda Fisher

Have you ever come across an article or a book that you think, “I am going to read this when I have downtime.”? Well my stack has become room size. Thanks to the Super Bowl and the construction guys I have come to know and love have allowed me just a sliver of a moment in time to do just that. I came across "Debunking the 13 Myths of Construction Safety" during the holidays during my search for reliable resources and references. Ron Prichard, P.E. Ph. D., writes an insightful article about the term “Safety”.  I use the word term because there are many opinions on the definition of safety. Prichard supports the position that theory and practical application can sometimes be at odds.

It is practically forbidden for an individual, especially a safety professional to state that there is indeed such thing as an acceptable amount of risk in the field of construction. However, construction is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Wouldn’t it be considered naïve to think that all the risk in that occupation can be eliminated? So stating that safety is achievable may be great for a motivational speech but exactly how true is it?

Often people say, “I want to do what you do.” When I ask, “Well, exactly what is it that I do?”  The response is usually, “Do Safety.” What does that mean? Safety is not something that one can put in a box and place on a shelf until needed. Safety is a term that describes a successfully completed plan. I was thrilled to find that someone’s philosophy on safety is similar to mine.

Every construction worker and company that brags about being in complete OSHA compliance scares me. It is sometimes misunderstood that being in OSHA compliance is the optimal definition of safety compliance. Now, make no mistake, it is comforting to know that there is a minimal standard guideline to follow in construction safety but OSHA compliance should not be the goal set forth to achieve. My apologies to those members of the VPP program.

I do not care to fit the stereotype of most of us classified as safety professionals and over analyze Prichard’s article so I am going to ask that you read it yourself and come to your own conclusions.







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