At RDC Fine Homes, we have been seriously investing in safety since the mid-2000’s.
Prior to that, while we may have expressed that we ran a safe workplace we were inconsistent and I suspect only took safety seriously when tasks were of obvious risk.
With the advent or the Certificate of Recognition (COR) through Worksafe I began to develop a better appreciation for our responsibility as an employer, got COR certified and implemented a formal safety program.
Today when we measure ourselves against the average builder we can convince ourselves that we are doing a good job of protecting our staff and trade partners from injury: why then are we still having at work accidents? We could convince ourselves that we are doing our best, other than an Achilles tendon tear some years ago most are strains and sprains. Is this good enough?
Here is an excerpt from The SafetyNet that I think well describes how important a culture of safety really is and has re focused my attention on upping our game and really looking at our company’s safety culture.
“In the presence of immediate danger, safety is our first and foremost concern.
However, when we do something for a very long time without incident, like driving, we can develop a sense of invulnerability, believing that nothing bad is going to happen. As our false confidence grows, so can the frequency with which we take part in risky behaviours such as texting while driving.
The issue with the illusion of invulnerability is that it is an illusion; there is still potential danger all around us and the consequences of the potential danger can be extreme. What makes matters worse is that we often make up excuses to justify, and, therefore continue, our risky behaviour.
For example, we may convince ourselves that “It was only a short text” or “The traffic was moving very slowly.” Excuses like these help to alleviate any guilt that we may have felt for doing what we know we shouldn’t have. Over time, and with enough excuses, we may forget how dangerous our actions really are and permanently buy into our illusion, creating an unsafe habit that is extremely difficult to change. It should be evident through the examples above and through your own experience that changing personal habits can be very difficult.
Now consider the challenge faced when trying to make the habits and behaviours of hundreds of people within an organization safer. Is it even possible? Many will argue that it isn’t. However, a few believe that it can be done, but only through the development of a safety culture.
“A strong safety culture is about doing the right thing all of the time, even when no one is looking.”
-Patrick Cantner, HSE Director, Willbros Canada
A culture is a set of values, norms, beliefs and attitudes that is shared by a group of people. When a strong culture exists, it can have a powerful effect on the behaviours of everyone who is part of it. Many strong cultures already exist around us. Consider a church, a golf course, a prestigious country club, a nightclub or even your grandmother’s house. Think about how individual behaviour adapts to each situation. What changes happen when moving from one culture to another? Behaviours are typically very different in a church than a nightclub, even for the same individual.”
My take on the residential construction sector is that the culture on safety is mostly focused on get it done as quickly as you can, and if the risk of getting caught is low then cut corners when required to get the job done. (The photo attached is a very good example).
As long as we don’t have a serious incident we can operate under the illusion that we are safe. We see this particularly with some of our trade partners; it can take a significant effort on our part to get them to adhere to standards which I actually feel are not nearly high enough.
At RDC we feel that we are responsible for the safety of everyone who enters one of our work sites and I have come to the realization that it is not enough to believe, that as long as we go through the motions of being safety conscious, we are doing all we can; as above we are still having at work incidents. While we talk about safe workplaces I don’t think we have quite embedded it in our culture; to a degree I think we too have fallen into the illusion trap.
To that end, we will be working harder over the next 12 months to improve how everyone at RDC views safety: through better education, leadership, site signage and follow through we will see an improvement. How will we measure this? Through a significant reduction of our current number of incidents.
If you are looking for a new employer then we guarantee that your safety at RDC is taken very seriously, we want you to get home to your family every night.
If you are looking for a builder or renovator then know we will always manage your risk in the best way possible, both on the field and off. As someone recently said to me a safe clean site shows that the crew and company cares; this reflects the culture of safety and a culture of high standards. At RDC Fine Homes, we aim to demonstrate the highest standard in everything we do.
So, if you want to work for an employer that cares or want to work with a builder who sets the bar high, give us a call or check us out at RDCFineHomes.com