Read 8 min

In this blog, we’re going to discuss why safety is always our top priority in the construction industry. It’s not just a value but a fundamental part of our operations. I’ll share a touching story, a common observation in the industry, and practical steps to make safety a core aspect of your career. 

I once heard a speaker, Jeff Espenship, who shared an impactful story about safety. Jeff was a fantastic speaker, and his story left a lasting impression on me. He used to fly show planes for air shows while holding a day job. One time, he asked his brother and a companion to fly a plane to an air show, but the plane crashed, and no one survived. This included his brother, and the loss devastated Jeff and his family.

Jeff explained that in some old prop planes, hydraulic lock can occur, where fluid inside the cavity prevents the pistons from fully moving, stopping the propeller. To avoid this, a certain number of manual rotations of the propeller are required to ensure everything is fine. Jeff recalled a time when he and his brother were in a rush to take off before a storm hit. He decided to skip the propeller checks, thinking they didn’t have time. They made it safely, but this shortcut set a dangerous example for his brother, who later skipped the checks, leading to the fatal crash.

This story underscores a critical lesson: safety must always come first. Jeff’s actions, driven by urgency, indirectly led to his brother’s death by setting a precedent that it was okay to skip essential safety steps.

Reflecting on this, I remember starting in construction where “safety is number one” was a common phrase. At DPR Construction, I learned that safety isn’t just a priority, which can change, but a core value. Later, I encountered a powerful idea: safety isn’t just a priority or a value; it’s always. This mindset is crucial because how we approach safety reflects in every aspect of our work.

Another personal story illustrates this further. My first boss, who was like a mentor to me, tragically lost his son in a construction accident. His father, while operating a blade, accidentally ran over his son, killing him instantly. This event shook me to my core and reinforced the importance of setting a good example and maintaining a strong safety culture.

One more story involves a superintendent on a multi-family project. Despite agreeing to follow safety protocols, I later found him working unsafely on a roof without fall protection. His actions signaled to his team that safety wasn’t a priority, leading to ongoing safety issues on the job.

These stories highlight a crucial point: the example set by leaders directly influences the safety culture on-site. Human nature prioritizes social acceptance, so workers often follow the lead of their supervisors. This is why it’s vital for those in leadership positions to model safe behaviors consistently.

To establish a culture of safety in construction, consider these steps:

  1. Learn It: Educate yourself on safety protocols, even if it means going through extensive training like OSHA 30. Understanding safety rules and guidelines is the first step.
  2. Implement It: Ensure safety measures are in place on-site. This includes guardrails, lifelines, safety nets, and overall job site organization to keep everyone safe.
  3. Hold the Line: Enforce safety standards strictly. If someone is unsafe, address it immediately. Send them for additional training or resources if necessary. Do not tolerate unsafe behaviors.

As leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure everyone goes home safely. This means prioritizing, valuing, and always considering safety in every aspect of our work. Remember, safety isn’t just a set of rules; it’s a mindset that requires constant vigilance and commitment.

If you want to learn more we have:

-Takt Virtual Training: (Click here)
-Check out our Youtube channel for more info: (Click here) 
-Listen to the Elevate Construction podcast: (Click here) 
-Check out our training programs and certifications: (Click here)
-The Takt Book: (Click here)

Discover Jason’s Expertise:

Meet Jason Schroeder, the driving force behind Elevate Construction IST. As the company’s owner and principal consultant, he’s dedicated to taking construction to new heights. With a wealth of industry experience, he’s crafted the Field Engineer Boot Camp and Superintendent Boot Camp – intensive training programs engineered to cultivate top-tier leaders capable of steering their teams towards success. Jason’s vision? To expand his training initiatives across the nation, empowering construction firms to soar to unprecedented levels of excellence.

On we go!