The following article is an article our founder Jay Sturm wrote for the January 2018 Cranes Chronicles. We are reposting it for your information.
I would like to talk about a matter that may fall through the cracks sometimes. When there’s a serious accident, the victim list gets affected beyond the injured or killed. I was moved by the conversation I had with the Salvuccis at Mass Bay Electric Corp. They had an accident on April 12, 2014 where a crane tipped over, resulting in the two young men working in the basket being killed.The families of the injured parties are still torn up over it. Friends of the victims and co-workers are as well.
Did you ever wonder what happens to the company and its people after a bad accident? What do they do? This is the focus of this article. The business perspective is typically ignored but it’s important to discuss.
The employer is subject to the grieving process, especially the guilt over it happening while under his/her watch, as well as the resulting victimization. Family and friends of the deceased frequently place the blame entirely on the employer, as part of their own grieving. The media too can get involved and shame the employer for what has happened in the accident. It’s always important to understand, though it can be hard for family and friends, that the employer most certainly does not plan or desire accidents to occur, a truth that gets lost when employers become victimized.
So then what is a business’s responsibility after an incident occurs? A business has to make a plan in the aftermath. If the business is going to survive, and there’s room for improvement in their safety habits, then a plan needs to be developed before the business moves on. OSHA does identify and punish companies that repeat violations in their citation program, but what about the perspective of the business heads? Are they left with all the tools necessary to improve their policies to ensure that the accident that occurred can’t occur again?
From my experience, when a person makes the decision to start up a new business from scratch, there is no safety plan at its inception. The safety plan, when there is one, get peppered in as the business grows and starts adding employees. The business owner becomes essentially a student of safety for their whole career. As I learned from talking to the Salvuccis, after the accident at Mass Bay Electric Corp., their approach was to hire a safety professional as a permanent part of the team. They also immediately made sure that all the employees went through a safety training program. Investments in safety measures like the Salvuccis made are expensive, but for a company like theirs, the cost is well worth it, a real investment in the future of the company. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that these costs are not always something that can be paid for, particularly when it’s a very small business. Then a deadly accident, in that case, might even spell the end of the company because they
The safety industry actually grew up around the queries of concerned business owners, just like the Salvuccis after that fatal accident. The need has definitely been there all along; however, now business owners have greater options to be proactive with safety in comparison to more reactionary in years past. The professional standards being written by industry leaders have also followed along this reactive to proactive, maybe even visionary path toward safety. Another takeaway, especially for non-business owners, is that employees still can’t assume that just because you work for a nice family business that your safety is guaranteed. You have to do your very best
to take safety into your own hands also. Employees need to be as proactive as they can be, for themselves
and for others working with them at the jobsite. And if employers are not as concerned with safety as they
should be, then employees should take that as a red flag.
Employers and employees alike should (and many do) take pride when their workers go home in the same condition as when they come in. With these evolving standards and the safety industry that has sprung up around them, it’s getting easier for that to be accomplished.