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Setting Strategic Health and Safety Priorities

For companies that work in high risk environments.

Hands-on Scaffolding Training December 2022

The construction and energy sectors are known for their high-risk environments, making setting strategic health and safety priorities crucial. In the construction sector, risks can range from falls from heights and exposure to hazardous materials to “struck by” accidents involving heavy equipment. In the energy sector, workers may be exposed to high voltages, radiation, and other dangerous substances. To set strategic health and safety priorities, organizations in these sectors should conduct routine risk assessments to identify the most significant risks and develop action plans to address them adequately.

In the construction sector, one of the most critical health and safety priorities is the prevention of falls from heights. This can be achieved through measures such as providing adequate training, using safety harnesses and guardrails, and ensuring that scaffolding is properly constructed and maintained. In Orange County, California, Innovative Construction Solutions understood the seriousness of fall risks, so they hired outside experts to conduct scaffolding training for a large number of new employees.

The special training event involved putting up and tearing down large scaffolding platforms, which is a skill that must be developed over time. Apart from this example, managing exposure to hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead, is also an essential priority due to the potential of serious long-term health effects.

As part of OSHA standard 1926.65 - Hazardous waste operations and emergency response, employers must ensure that their workers are adequately trained. Preventing exposure by taking the proper measures is essential. Regarding Asbestos, exposure can result in Mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs but most commonly affects the lining of the lungs and chest wall.

In the energy sector, one of the most significant health and safety priorities is managing radiation exposure. This can involve measures such as providing workers with protective clothing and equipment, monitoring radiation levels, and implementing appropriate safety protocols. Another crucial priority is managing the risk of fires and explosions, which can result from working with flammable materials or in areas with high pressure.

Organizations should ensure that workers are appropriately trained and that proper safety measures are in place, such as fire suppression systems and emergency response plans. Arc flash is another serious hazard that is associated with workers in the energy sector. An arc flash is the light and heat produced as part of an arc fault, a type of electrical explosion or discharge that results from a connection through air to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system. During an arc flash incident, the heat generated can reach 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit (four times hotter than the surface of the sun) and poses a significant threat to employees.

The Great Resignation, a trend that resulted from the COVID-19 Pandemic, is likely to have an impact on health and safety policy making in the construction and energy sectors. As workers leave their jobs, organizations may struggle to maintain their existing health and safety programs, particularly if they are already understaffed. This could lead to increased risks and the potential for accidents and injuries.

However, the Great Resignation may also provide an opportunity to re-evaluate and improve existing health and safety policies. Offering a robust health and safety program can be a significant selling point when competing to attract and retain employees. It differentiates them from their competitors by creating a safer and healthier workplace.

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