Ever heard of Sisyphus (SISS-uh-fiss) ? In Greek mythology, he was King of Corinth and a little too clever for his own good. He tricked Hades, high lord of the Underworld, into putting on his own handcuffs. Sisyphus then locked him in his closet for a few days. He later tricked Persephone, Queen of the Dead too. This didn’t go over too well. A bit later Sisyphus ran out of clever attempts to deceive the landlords of the Underworld.
He had to roll a heavy rock up an unending hill. For all eternity. No matter how far he rolled it up the hill… it always came tumbling back down. An exercise in futility. For eternity.
In a related story, I was having lunch last week with a Safety Director of an ENR Top 250 GC. Every 10 minutes or so he’d take a quick glance at the barrage of inbound emails. Then he’d groan.
“Being a Safety Director… Is there ever any good news? Anyone ever call to say, ‘Hey – no one got hurt today. Thanks for the effort?‘ “
But he was wearing a sharp Nike golf polo with embroidery identifying an accomplishment. One of his jobsites went 500,000 manhours without any incidents or lost time. I applauded the effort and noted someone appreciated him if the Dri-Fit shirts got the green light.
“No – that was me. I wanted to recognize the team, but I had to fight to get even the shirts approved.”
“You take the good with the bad. It’s just tough because you cannot be everywhere at the same time.”
It would seem being a Safety Professional often feels like a Sisyphean task. Forever an uphill battle. Forever an injury awaiting. Forever an Inbox assaulted….
Ultimately the individual teams on the job must take ownership of the Safety Program. Even if there is full-time Safety leadership on the job, they can’t be everywhere.
How can we help facilitate a Culture of Safety on the job? Are there cost-effective self-priming tools that can improve Safety by their mere existence?
Well, take a look around the typical construction trailer. Not exactly a vibrant environment promoting continuous improvement – of Safety or anything else.
What signage have we provided to promote safety? Aha. The classic “Danger: Hard Hat Area” sign always gets workers thinking….
And what laminated posters have we provided to encourage behavior change? Ahh, yes. The government-mandated minimum wage posters. Let’s put those in the most optimum location for constant viewing… because those are relevant, personal and extremely helpful.
How about some artwork that is different and new?
Something that workers actually notice?
The Boldt Company out of Appleton Wisconsin created an award-winning communications campaign to promote Safety. Their artwork was original, cool, and much different than the normal swag thumbtacked to the walls of the construction trailer.
Similar to Boldt’s approach to combining Artwork and Safety Communication, Red Angle is proud to announce the release of our Split Safety Poster.
The poster is 24” x 36” laminated, glossy on a foam core backer board and features a Split Construction worker. We place your logo in the upper right-hand corner. It costs $99 + shipping and handling.
On one side you see the human anatomy. On the other side you see the worker with his PPE – the PPE designed to protect the specific parts of his body.
Along with the very visual artwork of the Split construction worker, all the PPE and body parts are identified in English and Spanish. The Spanish phonetics are provided as well so English speakers can feel confident speaking Español.
In the lower right hand corner, key verbs and terms are identified to allow workers to string together Safety sentences in real-time.
Hispanics are nearly 2x as likely to be injured or killed on the job, primarily due to communication barriers. That is, construction managers typically do not speak to them.
How many of you are involved in Toolbox Talks each week that require the attendance of Spanish-speakers… yet include zero communication in Spanish?
How many of you routinely ask subs about Safety issues while walking on the job? And how many of you do this with Hispanic construction workers?
Language barriers shouldn’t be Safety Barriers.
Are unique Safety posters the final answer? No, of course not. There is no silver bullet to a culture of Safety. There are lots of ways to keep Safety relevant, personal and helpful.
But HUGE problems (the most recent data from Liberty Mutual peg the cost of jobsite injuries and deaths at around $50B. Roughly $1B each week…That is HUGE.) do not necessarily require equally HUGE solutions.
We have found the Split Safety poster is self-priming – it doesn’t require any conversation at all. Hang it in the construction trailer and workers take notice. They start speaking the words and phrases. They have fun with it. And whenever you have exposed large intestines hanging from the wall… it warrants discussion.
There is no destination of Safetyland to which you can officially arrive. It’s an unending journey. But it doesn’t have to be a Sisyphean effort. And the topic of Safety doesn’t have to be a topic that is seemingly borne from the Underworld – complete with discussions of death and handcuffs (does OSHA use handcuffs?) and exercises in futility.
If you have Hispanics working on your jobsite and want to improve Safety communications with them, contact Red Angle today for a Split Safety poster. It’s guaranteed to grab the attention of your team and initiate a conversation.
Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. The Split Safety poster is also customizable to larger sizes. We printed one for a Client that is over 6′ tall. It is intense. Contact Bradley Hartmann at firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order.
Categories: Jobsite Leadership