As we enter Construction Safety Week 2020, the landscape looks significantly different than in years past. The construction industry has always been a higher risk industry – comprising over 20% of all private industry fatalities annually – but these unprecedented times have brought more challenges for safety teams to address. Hear what Dan Plefka, Senior Project Safety Manager for Gilbane Building Company had to say about how he approaches safety on his jobsite and how workers are handling the changes due to COVID-19.
Q: What got you interested in a career in construction safety?
Dan: There is a sense of accomplishment that you get when you help to create a culture in which safety is paramount to every task on the site.
Q: What are the items you look for in a good safety strategy?
Dan: Compliancy, Accountability, and workers buy in to the concept. You need to also model the behavior that you are looking for.
Q: How has on-site safety changed since the onset of COVID-19?
Dan: It has gotten increasingly more difficult. However, the proximity tracing devices are an outstanding resource that we utilize here for not only social distancing but also contact tracing. Unfortunately, we had to utilize this system a couple of times to contact trace individuals who tested positive while they were working on the site. It allowed us to quickly identify and quarantine the appropriate people. Without it, we would have to quarantine large groups of people who may or may not have had contact with the sick worker based upon the general area they were working in.
Q: How have workers responded to changes in safety protocols since returning to work?
Dan: Most of the workers understand what the devices (Proximity Trace) do and do not do. For the most part, the workers appreciate the extra effort that is being made to keep them safe and keeping them working.