Safety First: Choose People Over Profit

In case you haven't seen it yet, there's a rather bizarre new show out called "101 Ways to Leave a Game Show." Its premise is pretty straightforward: contestants answer a series of questions in order to qualify for the $50,000 grand prize. The kicker is what happens to contestants who answer incorrectly.

Rather than being discreetly walked off the show, losing contestants are subjected to a variety of rather horrific-looking stunts. In one episode (yes, I admit I've watched it), a contestant was yanked off a pier while chained to a large boat anchor. In another, a contestant was dragged off on a mat at high speed by a car. Later in the same episode, losers in the final round were dropped, one by one, 100 ft. into a tank of water.

The real question when it comes to this type of show - at least in my opinion - is why anyone would willingly agree to subject themselves to such stunts. Is the prospect of winning a large sum of money really worth the risk of serious injury or worse?

Now, I'm not naive enough to think the stunts shown are random or unplanned. I'm sure all precautions have been put in place to ensure the safety of the competitors. But what if something goes terribly wrong? What if proper safety protocols aren't followed, or the risks of a particular stunt are underestimated? (I'd love to see the liability waivers these people have to sign!)

A construction jobsite, where lives and livelihoods really do hang in the balance, hardly compares to a game show. Yet, similar types of safety-related questions apply.

Obviously, even the best of companies can't foresee every potential hazard on a project. But in this era of tight deadlines and even tighter profit margins, it can be all too easy to make risk assessments too quickly, to take precarious shortcuts or to overlook safety violations, particularly when addressing them could add costs or delay project completion.

Every company deserves the benefit of the doubt. However, in my mind, employers that knowingly (or "willfully") endanger the lives of employees are the worst form of violators - even more so if they are repeat offenders. They are the ones who care more about collecting payment for on-time completion or securing maximum profit than ensuring their workers make it home safely at the end of the day. Much like those contestants, they beg the question: Is the money really worth the risks?

Employers that focus solely on the bottom line have lost sight of the big picture. At the end of the day, it's the people that matter most, and it's the people that ultimately make the difference between the success, or failure, of your business.

For tips to help ensure the safety of your workers, turn to the Construction Zone Safety and IPAF Elevating Safety publications included with this issue. You can find additional safety articles and equipment by visiting the Safety section of ForConstructionPros.com.

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