Near-misses can happen at any moment on a job site, which is why safety professionals are always on the lookout for hazards.
For the Safety Team at W. L. French Excavating Corporation, a Billerica, Massachusetts-based contracting and environmental management firm, that means daily site visits across a few dozen project sites.
“We usually have anywhere between 20 or 30 active jobs going on,” Tim Hunt, Director of Environmental, Health, and Safety at W. L. French, tells Highwire.
The Safety Team met with Highwire before Safety Week 2023 to discuss various topics about the company’s safety culture, including how it responds to potential incidents on project sites.
Responding to a hazard with accountability and action
On a recent project, a hazard could have resulted in multiple injuries, but luckily did not. Hunt worked with the general contractor to devise a plan of action and ensure their teams would be safe before allowing work to continue.
This collaborative discussion between the parties allowed the teams to complete the work without further incident. As this near-miss demonstrated, communication plays a significant role in how safety culture on the job site is formed.
When asked to reflect on this year’s Safety Week theme, Strong Voices, Safe Choices, Hunt responds, “If we don’t have an open line of communication, the process may not make it down [to the front-line workers].”
Building rapport and fostering relationships
Edward Dionne, another Safety Specialist at W. L. French, says that communication between safety professionals, managers, and crews is at the heart of incident prevention.
That communication, Dionne says, is rooted in the very relationships that transpire on the job site.
“I think it’s important when you get to a job site, rather than beginning by pointing out everything wrong, start with, ‘How are you? How was your weekend?’” Dionne tells Highwire.
Dionne and Hunt work to develop rapport with the subcontractors and their workers because, they say, it’s essential that crews feel they count on the safety teams to advocate for them. Fostering this safety culture begins at the beginning of the relationship and is maintained by the Safety team.
Before joining W. L. French Dionne worked in safety in the oil and gas industry and conducted site safety inspections without a proper software-based solution.
“It’s much easier to do it on Highwire than by hand, I can tell you that much,” he says.
The Highwire solution
For many teams, ensuring safety across many different projects requires a divide-and-conquer mentality.
To keep abreast of developments on and off the job site, the team at W. L. French says Highwire is their preferred solution for incident tracking, inspections, and safety assessments. Amy Napolitano, an EHS Coordinator at W. L. French, uses Highwire regularly to manage and collect important contractor information.
The team at W. L. French provides various construction services, from excavation and commercial site preparation and development to roadwork and demolition.
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THE SAFETY TEAM – W. L. FRENCH EXCAVATING CORPORATION