Quality electrical contractors understand true success requires a combination of essential elements. That must include safety. More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Some of them, sadly, are in the construction industry. As a longtime EC and president of the National Electrical Contractors Association, I have been afforded opportunities to see what’s being done around the country to encourage safe practices and policies.
Now is an important time for engaging in conversations about safety. For many years, May has been recognized as National Electrical Safety Month. The effort is spearheaded by the nonprofit organization Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), which is dedicated to promoting electrical safety at home, school and the workplace. NECA is a proud sponsor of ESFI, and we will continue to support the development of resources that raise awareness throughout the year.
Several other initiatives focus on safety in May. Construction Safety Week took place the first week this month. Organizers have said dozens of national and global construction firms have come together with a single aim: to inspire everyone in the industry to be leaders in safety. NECA is invested in helping contractors perform their jobs while avoiding injuries.
The week of May 8–12 shines a light on what the Labor Department has called the National Safety Stand-Down. It is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety and, more specifically, preventing falls in construction. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on fall hazards and reinforcing the importance of fall prevention. Contractors can think of it as a chance to have a conversation with employees about hazards, protective methods and their company’s safety goals.
Talking about falls is imperative. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities recorded in 2015. The agency also said fall protection standards topped the list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations in the 2016 fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 workplace inspections by federal OSHA staff. Fall prevention is followed by hazard communication and scaffolds.
It’s also important to capitalize on opportunities to become more knowledgeable and stay current on the latest issues. To that end, ECs come together each May for the NECA Safety Professionals Conference, the electrical industry’s premier safety conference, held this year May 22–24 in Las Vegas. It’s the perfect time to socialize and network with your peers and be surrounded by people who share your interest in keeping workers safe. Participants gain access to the information required to navigate the rapidly changing environment and the new regulations being updated and promulgated by government agencies (something that’s worth monitoring year-round).
What are some other good ways to keep up? NECA has launched several apps over the past few years to help you out. First, there’s the NECA Safety Meeting App, which has gained in popularity as it assists members in complying with requirements for documenting mandatory safety meetings and other incidents that occur on job sites. There’s also the NECA News App, which is a tremendous resource for industry news, legislative updates and safety information. NECA recently introduced an interactive, all-in-one events app for our national meetings: the NECA Convention, NECA Now and the Safety Professionals Conference. All three apps are available in the iTunes or Google Play stores.
A commitment to safety in all walks of life takes—among other things—vision, communication and persistence. You can expect NECA to continue to promote safety in electrical construction and pursue avenues that support contractors and the public.