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Contractor Safety Plan Offers Multiple Rewards

Comprehensive electrical safely program reduces accidents, builds morale, increases productivity, and boosts the bottom line.

Electrical safety is of paramount importance at Nordling Dean Electric Co., Inc. Chatham, N.J. According to Jerry Murphy, president of the firm, electrical safety plays a major role in company operations because of the many benefits imparted to all concerned.

First and foremost is the health and welfare of employees, particularly on-site electricians who face possible accidents every day. Murphy says that when employees know that we care enough to plan, install, and enforce a total safety program, they appreciate it and reward our efforts by returning a sincere effort to comply with the program. It's a win-win situation.

Accidents cause injury to personnel, impact the family, and result in lost time as well as damage to property. When accidents happen, morale drops, efficiency suffers, insurance rates go up, customers are unhappy, and everybody loses.

On the other hand, a well-planned safety program benefits everyone.

Multi-facet safely program

The safety program was planned and organized by Carl Dumont, vice president of construction. As the years passed, the program has expanded, developed further, and diversified to cover essentially all aspects of safety. Some of the major parts of the safety program are as follows.

Corporate statement of policy. The firm has published their Safety Manual, a public document that includes the following corporate statement of policy.

"Safety of employees and the public is a top priority that will not be compromised. Every effort will be made to prevent accidents by timely recognition and correction of unsafe conditions and unsafe practices. The firm will comply with all laws concerning safety and health enforced by local, state or federal authorities."

All-level safely coordination team. A safety coordination committee consists of four key members from all levels in the company. All members have multiple duties; however, each has specific duties. For example, Abe Bawarshi, vice president of engineering, coordinates and updates the entire program with special emphasis on the Safety Manual. Leon Baptiste and Charlie McCormick, project managers, monitor and review safety at job sites, especially work procedures, to assure maximum safety. Roger Dumont, warehouse manager, keeps tabs on all protective equipment, test instruments, and safety items. He regularly sends out rubber gloves, blankets, and instruments to be tested for reliability. Bill Davi, journeyman electrician, teaches apprentice safety classes.

Job start-up and site inspections. As soon as a job is scheduled, the superintendent and foreman meet to discuss accident prevention. Job-site conditions are examined and any danger spots are pointed out. Foremen make regular inspections of the site looking for any accident-prone locations.

Supervisor/foreman meetings. At these meetings, which are held at least quarterly, supervisors and foremen discuss safety data, experiences, accidents, and/or problems in detail. Their objective is to increase safety and reduce accidents. These meetings accomplish much the same as the job start-up and site inspection procedures do.

Tool box meetings. At each job site, a ten-min. meeting is held by the project supervisor or job foreman each week. Accidents or near accidents are reviewed and actions to prevent recurrence are discussed. Everyone is encouraged to contribute ideas that would enhance work safety.

Accident investigation. Accidents will happen, however. When they do, the Safety Coordination Team makes a full investigation, obtains all facts, details, and possible causes, and then takes suitable action to prevent recurrence. The team uses a thorough accident investigation procedure to assure a meticulous inquiry. The procedure investigates sequence of actions, condition of protective equipment, if they were used properly, etc. The job foreman is responsible for assignment of men who are trained or competent for each kind of work. A comprehensive questioning guide is used and an accident report must be filled out and sent to top management.

Seminars/training. On a regular schedule, Leon Baptiste, power quality engineer, also serves as a safety director. One of his responsibilities is to attend OSHA and safety seminars to be certain that work procedures and the safety manual incorporate the latest data concerning safety. Training also includes sessions for all company personnel held at least twice a year. Training of journeymen is an ongoing process in the field, as they observe and use protective items, instruments, the safety manual, safety checklists, etc.

Safety manual. The company's 110-page safety manual is a mainstay of the safety plan. It covers all common safety situations and provides guidance for essentially any safety circumstance that might exist. For example, chapters in the manual discuss OSHA regulations, accident investigation procedures, first aid, training, fire prevention and control, lockout and tagout procedures, ground-fault protection on construction sites, just to name a few.

Safe procedure checklists. For common or repetitive work, certain hazardous work, and to meet OSHA rules, "Safe Procedure Checklists" must be read and used to guide work; completed checklist must be submitted to central accident record-keeping when the work is completed.

Working in confined space is especially hazardous; permits are required and checklists for the work must be used. The same is true for work procedures such as work performed with hazardous materials.

Protective equipment, tools, test instruments. All protective items are listed on a main index, signed out to job sites, and tested upon return and/or on a schedule. Typical equipment includes hard hats, hearing protection, glasses, face shields, respiratory equipment, first-aid kits, stretchers, ladders, scaffolds, power tools, test instruments, rubber blankets, gloves, and high-voltage testers.

OSHA training. The firm keeps up to date with the latest OSHA standards by sending safety directors to OSHA seminars and carrying out all regulations as required. Information concerning OSHA rules is included in chapters in the Safety Manual. Typical OSHA rules and activities include displaying OSHA posters in company buildings and strict use of signs, labels, color codes, and posters, etc. to warn of hazards. Additional regulations relate to maintaining detailed records (using the OSHA log and summary of occupational injuries and illnesses), maintaining a list of all hazardous chemicals present at the company or at work sites, training relative to hazardous chemical materials, and the use of safety data sheets.

Management review. Top level officers in the firm review all reports pertinent to the safety program and are well versed in all aspects of the safety program on the job. They are aware of the benefits that accrue as mentioned earlier. As a result, motivation program has been instituted.

Incentive plan. The firm started a program that motivates and rewards the foreman that has the best safety record each year. The award is given at the company annual holiday party. This award program reaffirms the company's dedication to an effective safety program and helps to motivate foremen to do their best.

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