Time to Take Safety Seriously

How to fix the problem of crews not wearing personal protective equipment or practicing safe habits on the job.

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Is it really that hard to make sure you and your crews are safe on job sites?

As part of my duties at COLE Publishing, I am photo editor for all eight of our print magazines. I have to make sure all pictures show crews doing things the safe way. It’s typical safety stuff that I’m looking for — gloves being worn, hard hats and safety glasses on, and other personal protective equipment used.

Recently I’ve had photos turned in with workers operating vacuum excavators without gloves or safety glasses, directional drillers not wearing helmets and crews pulling conduit without gloves.

It’s frustrating because safety is probably the easiest aspect of any job.


One of the biggest excuses I get when a directional drill operator isn’t wearing a hard hat is: “There are no overhead dangers where we’re working.” That could very well be true, but there are other risks — the machine could roll over, rocks and debris are flying around during drilling, and you could have other heavy equipment working nearby.

It’s the same when it comes to trench safety — “It won’t happen to us,” or “The ground is perfectly stable here,” are the two most common excuses.

You’ve all seen news reports when a trench with no shoring in place collapses and crew members are severely injured or killed. I wonder how many of them have used those excuses?


Keeping your crew safe needs to be a priority. We’ve featured companies in Dig Different that have safety coordinators making spot inspections on crews, and we’ve profiled companies that hold mandatory weekly safety meetings.

Those two are good places to start in making sure your crews are compliant, but you have to enforce the rules. What happens if you show up to a job and your crew members aren’t wearing hard hats or safety glasses? Some options should include writing them up, suspending them, or even implementing a fine — because the problem is that serious.Make sure employees know you take safety seriously and expect them to do the same. The more they wear that safety gear, the more likely it’ll become habit.


I want to hear what your company does to enforce safety and how employees have taken your approach. Email me at editor@digdifferent.com or call me at 800/257-7222. I look forward to hearing from you — and to seeing photos come in with everyone being safe.

Enjoy this issue!


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