2020 taught us how important it is to quickly adapt to change. Last year, protocols were updated, technology was added, and work schedules adjusted all in efforts to improve safety for workers and mitigate spread of COVID. Hear what Maurice Cerda, Site Safety Manager for City Safety Compliance Corp, an independent construction safety consulting firm that specializes in high-rise, “Major Building” construction safety management, safety training, and on-site inspection services had to say about how he approaches safety on his jobsites and the impact of the pandemic on safety.
Q: What got you interested in a career in safety?
Maurice: My career in safety started completely by chance. At the time, I had recently retired from law enforcement and returned to work full-time in the construction industry. While doing so, I was approached with an opportunity to work with a safety company in developing training programs and redesigning their continuing education program. This opportunity led me to seek my own continuing education in the field of safety.
Q: What are the items you look for in a good safety strategy?
Maurice: A good safety strategy and components that I look for are ones that focus on technological, human, and organizational aspects. Simplicity is key in implementing the safety strategy. Workers must understand the strategy in order for it to be effective. Job-specific strategy is also important, especially focusing on technological aspects. Many times, equipment use is overlooked and or not addressed in the safety strategy, and technology plays an important role in today’s construction. Finally, organization. A good strategy will only work if the developed strategy is properly provided to the at-risk workers and should be provided in the language that workers understand, and records of this should be maintained.
Q: How is your safety strategy different this year operating through COVID?
Maurice: While the overall strategies have remained the same this year, certain implantation techniques have been modified to meet COVID guidelines. For example, in order to be in compliance, it has been adapted to provide adequate physical distance between workers. Depending on the specific job task, this can be incredibly difficult, if not nearly impossible to implement. Another modification has been the implementation of face coverings and safety glasses, despite whether that work is being completed indoors or outdoors. This modified safety strategy must be flexible in order to address the concerns of COVID-19, OSHA National Emphasis Program, as well as each and every worker.
Q: How have workers responded to the implementation of technology to assist with improving safety?
Maurice: For the most part, workers have had a favorable response to the implementation of technology once they have learned how that technology can enhance their work. As stated earlier, simplicity goes a long way. Proper training, in a way that workers understand, has made that process easier to implement.
Q: Are there any safety problems you are trying to resolve for that don’t currently have technology out there to help?
Maurice: For a majority of common problems that are addressed in the field, there are technological resources available to help. However, we have found that many times, the work base lacks the necessary knowledge to access technology that is already in existence. A good safety strategy will resolve many of the safety problems well before the work commences.