Bilingual Work Safety Specialist, Speaker, and Trainer



“Hurry up! The truck is here!” Jim yells out in a gruff voice. Jim, the middle-aged foreman with oversize bushy eyebrows, is barking orders at his crew members to bring shovels and finishing tools as the concrete truck has arrived fifteen minutes early. The workers jump into the mud and start spreading the concrete. Several workers are in such a rush that they have no concern about wearing their protective eyewear even as the concrete splatters onto their clothing, hair, and face. Not only do they fail to protect their eyes, but they are also not protecting their skin from the abrasiveness combined with the corrosive effects of the concrete on their ankles and feet. The workers are standing in fresh concrete in regular boots. The concrete gets inside the boots, and the workers do not stop to wash it off their skin. Sections of the concrete forms are not complete. The foreman directs two workers to quickly position some boards even though they are not secured properly. As the concrete truck pulls away, the foreman knows this is not the best job. Some areas will need to be cut out, and other sections will need to be finished later.

Compare the first team with the efforts of another crew also preparing a fresh concrete pad. It is completely different. Doug is a happy guy, well-liked by his workers. Doug made time at the beginning of the day to have a tailgate meeting with his team. They discuss the job tasks of the day. “Jaime, what is one hazard of the job today?” Doug asks a team member.

“And what can be done to be protected from that hazard?” Jaime responds, “Don’t stand in the concrete to avoid getting a rash on your feet. Use the tall rubber boots and wash off any concrete you get on your skin.” Jim mentions another hazard. “The splashing of concrete from the truck, so you need eye protection.” Doug tasks two team members to have the shovels and finishing tools ready in the work area while he checks that all the forms are in place. Doug mentions, “It is possible, the concrete truck will arrive early, so be ready.” The team is prepared. The concrete forms are complete, tools are ready, and personal protective equipment is on hand. Each worker has an assignment, and Doug is prepared to adjust as is necessary. At the end of the day, the concrete pad is built to specifications. It is a job done well. The workers are safe and free of injury or health issues. When a supervisor feels rushed, the stress spreads to others and may result in errors and poor-quality work. Team members become frustrated and develop a negative attitude. Stressed workers are distracted workers.

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