Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Safety Man"

I started out in Safety on construction projects as a part of my duties on a U S Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) Mississippi Test site project (now named Stennis Space Center ) near Bay St. Louis, MS. The safety procedures on this project were in force at all Corps projects long before the U S Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970.

Each week, I was responsible to hold a safety meeting with all the workers on the particular site on the project. Also, I was to keep a critical eye on all work procedures throughout the week to assure that the work was being performed in a safe manner. This created my first "extra hat" to my job responsibilities.

The Corps safety manual taught me the basics of construction site safety management. Then, when the OSHA Act came into being, I was told by my company's management, "You're it!" This responsibility as "Safety Man" was added to the other "hats" such as Field Engineer to layout new project work sites, Equipment Superintendent responsible for the maintenance of all construction equipment and Purchasing Agent, purchasing all materials and tools for all the ongoing projects in the Mobile, AL area. Also, I was responsible for "selling" OSHA Safety Regulations and duties to company management personnel, encouraging them on the adavantages of a safe work site and decrease the costs of Insurance.

Later, I moved to Oak Ridge, TN with another company as Equipment Superintendent. This job required me to be responsible for assuring that 277 vehicles, over 100 items of large construction equipment and numerous items of small-engine equipment were maintained and ready to operate. Also, I was responsible to assure that each item was in a safe condition to operate and for developing and managing an equipment operator certification program for cranes and for truck drivers hauling hazardous materials. So, I went back to wearing my "Safety Man" hat along with the other management "hats."

Later, I was transferred to Maine as Materials Manager, responsible for all materials ordered, expedited, received, stored and issued for installation on a large paper mill project. Also, I had responsibility to have needed construction equipment on site and ready to operate and that all operators were safety trained on the type equipment that they were to operate. I still wore the "Safety Man" hat to some degree.

After Maine, I attended a class called "OSHA-500" at the OSHA Institute in Des Plaines, IL. This class was a "Train the Trainer" course that trained attendees to teach OSHA 30-hour and 10-hour safety classes that are now required by most all industrial plants in the country.

After the 500 class, I was assigned to a project in northwest Alabama as night shift supervisor and "Safety Man" on a large aluminum plant addition. When that project was completed, I returned to the Mobile area as "Safety Man" on a textile plant project that had experienced 3 lost-time injuries. The project was complete a year later with no more lost-time cases.

Later, I worked for two years in supervisory positions at projects in the Mobile and Sulphur, LA areas as "Safety Man" and Structural Project Supervisor. Upon completion of those projects, a major expansion was added to the textile plant. I returned to that site as "Safety Man" and compiled a Safety Program for that site and scripted and directed the filming of training videos for the project, and I managed the Safety Program for over two years.

After that project was completed, I went went into business as Safety Consulting - Jim Wood. I wrote a Safety Program and did the scripting and shooting of safety training videos for a pharmaceutical plant in Athens, GA. I was the "Safety Man"on that project for over two years.

After that project was completed, I retired, or at least "semi-retired." I have been doing safety consulting work and expert witness work for the past eight years. I have recently completed an update on the OSHA 500 class and plan to do safety training for workers in the Mobile area as required by most every plant in the area. Also, I have been doing relief for an on-site "Safety Man" on a plant project.

I have always used the "Horse Sense" approach to Safety. That is really what a safe work procedure is. If workers will pause just a few seconds before beginning a task to do it the safe way, it adds up to be Horse Sense. I often tell workers that there are enough "donkeys" around that go merrily along not "Thinking Safety." There is always a safe way to do a task by using the Horse Sense way.

Often, I see former workers from some of the projects I've been on and they'll say, "Hello Safety Man." Sometimes it is hard to recognize them without hard hat, safety glasses and work boots!

I guess that, over the years, I can still be called the "Safety Man!" This is a name I cherish as it lets me know that I've had a part in helping construction workers from Alabama to Texas to Tennessee to Maine to work safely so that they may return home to their families at the end of each work day in as good condition as when they left home that morning. I just like the feeling that I have actually helped someone keeping someone from being maimed or killed on the job site.

Be safe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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