Home Renovation Leaders Speak – Ten Members of the Residential Construction Industry Share their Insights and Opinions
Mr. Senft gives his insight on developing a safety program for small to medium-sized residential contractors.
“Each project has different safety risks depending on the scope of work at each home. At one home there may be work on the roof or siding; at another home the railing might be removed for a short period during the renovation. Having our trades and suppliers feel safe at each site is a priority for us,” Senft says.
Developing a safety program, one that addressed the needs of a small-medium-sized residential renovation company at an affordable cost, however, took a whole lot of research.
We started by seeking out the regulations that Work- SafeBC prescribes, but found that the existing WorkSafe requirements were cumbersome, administratively heavy and too expensive for a small/medium renovation firm to implement. We wanted to stay safe, but we also needed to stay competitive if we were to remain in business. Addi- tionally, there were a number of items that simply didn’t apply to work being done on a single-family home or indi- vidual condominium projects.
Next, we spoke with a safety consulting firm to find out if there was an existing program for small to medium- sized renovation companies that we could implement. It turned out that our inquiry was their first request they had received from a company of our size. Consulting firms such as this typically work on larger residential projects or commercial projects, because smaller/mid-sized renovation companies simply don’t have the resources available to hire a fulltime safety consultant nor implement an in-depth safety program.
We asked the consulting firm to provide us with the sections of the WorkSafeBC requirements that applied to single family-homes and condominium-sized projects. From there we formulated a Safety Binder for each job- site.
The Safety Binder contains the following:
• An Emergency Contact List: To be posted at site in a visible location with all emergency numbers on it for example: Police, Fire, Poison Control, WorkSafe Cri- sis Line, BC Health Line and directions to the nearest hospital
• Work Site Safety Inspection Sheet: Items include determining the best place for a First Aid Kit location, identification of falling risks, unsafe stacking of mate- rials, and inadequate lighting
• Tool Box Meeting Form: This is for a site meeting with the trades to discuss safety issues and any action items that might need to be addressed
• New Subcontractor Orientation Form: Completing walk-throughs with new trades/suppliers, showing the location of First Aid Kit, working alone procedures, fall protection, personal protective equipment, etc.
• Incident Investigative Report: A means to document what happened, who was involved, the conditions at the site, etc.
We’ve implemented the Safety program and I’m pleased to report that it’s been well received by our trades, suppliers and clients. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones—at least once you’ve done the research.
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