Dan Huntington still laughs as he remembers a lesson he learned in his college days.
For years, his alma mater tried to keep students off the grass in a main area with signs and regulations. Finally, the administration realized it simply needed to work with the students’ established behaviors and pave the paths regularly being trod across the lawn.
“We want to control the way people behave on these rooftops, and one of the simplest ways we can do that is provide a collective protection. That’s guardrails, and it’s access-ways that are controlled,” Parsons said. “We might have a pipe people climb over, and we all know that happens every single day. What we can do by having an access point, building a step over module or something like that, is we can actually control where along the pipeline that is and make sure it keeps them away from other hazards, as well.”
Too many employers think they can check a box, complying with OSHA regulations and calling that good enough to protect their crew. But an approach that also takes workers’ day-to-day feelings into account or involves them in the process can be the difference between success and failure in creating a safe environment.
“I think the really big deal here is for us as safety professionals to put ourselves in the shoes of the people we’re trying to protect, to really be as empathetic as we can to what their situation is, especially in a highly active environment,” Parsons said. “A lot of the industrial places folks go to work in are very active. There’s lots going on around them, and we have to be mindful about that.”
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