SoCal Builders Work to Change the Safety ‘Mindset’

Filed in Codes and Standards, Safety by on March 28, 2018 3 Comments

Teri Thurbush knows a thing or two about safety. And now, her son knows a little more, too.

“He’s a finish carpenter, and one day, a piece of nail hit him in the eye. He wasn’t wearing safety glasses,” Thurbush said. “Thankfully, he didn’t have to lose an eye and there was no long-term damage. But it scared the heck out of him and, needless to say, he’s now wearing safety glasses every day.”

As general manager of operations and safety for Pardee Homes, Thurbush frequently tells this story to point out that injuries can happen, but unfortunately, they aren’t always close calls like the one her son experienced.

Thurbush is also chair of the Southern California Builders Safety Alliance, which now counts about 15 member companies and growing. The alliance is a collaboration of residential builders, trades and trained safety professionals working together to provide safe, productive jobsites throughout Southern California.

Their focus is to work towards making safety a “mindset” of all workers and transforming the perception of jobsite safety from an annoyance into an integral part of the operation – and they are already seeing a difference.

Thurbush said that in the past, companies like Pardee would send their trades home for failing to follow standard safety procedures. “But then they’d often say, ‘I don’t want to wear a hard hat, so I am going to go across the street to a different builder.’ We had to get everyone on the same page.”

The alliance began by inviting builders to send their trades to free quarterly meetings where they could enjoy a breakfast and get a brief training on a different safety topic each time. They started with five participating builders, and now 18 companies send a total of 60-100 workers to every meeting.

Each member also opens their jobsites to safety observations by other member companies so they can share best practices. Members say they aim to see the Builders Safety Alliance logo on the construction fence of every jobsite in their market.

The alliance’s efforts have not gone unnoticed: Members were honored when it won an NAHB/Builders Mutual Safety Award for Excellence in 2017. But the alliance members know there is still plenty of work to do.

“In the end, all of us want our guys to stay safe,” Thurbush said. “We’re all here to make a living for our families, and we need to take care of each other so we can go home to them.”

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Comments (3)

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  1. Safety First, always first!

  2. Roger Morrow says:

    Safety is often overlooked in our industry until an incident or OSHA violation. Be proactive!

  3. Excellent, safety should be a good practice in all businesses, especially within the scope of the fields where injuries are prevalent. We implemented safety from the get-go in our roofing contractor business as many newbies just didn’t have their senses about them, so we always started with safety training. We’d like to not have to use workman’s comp!

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