A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Hard Hat, Not Hard Head

Safety is primary on every construction site. Everyone. No exceptions.

Construction is ubiquitous in Houston. So prevalent that sometimes I think that I should be wearing a hard hat just to drive around my neighborhood.

Recently, I was meeting a colleague for a “coffee time” at a watering hole nearby. On the way, I had to weave around the front end loaders, trenchers, pot holes, and patches that are part of sewer and water line replacement that has been underway over the last year.

I was stuck behind a work crew and a hot mix truck on its way for an overlay job. I noticed that the crew all had their “Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE) on as they worked. Hard hats, steel-toed boots, and safety vests were all in place. The safety engineers would be pleased.

There was however, one noticeable exception, and that one would have been serious had the safety engineer been on site. There was a hot mix asphalt spreader being driven by a guy who looked like one of the owners of the asphalt company, and he should have known better.

He was driving a full load of mix and he was missing a vest, hard hat and maybe even his steel-toed boots. He looked like he might have gotten mad at someone and had jumped on the machine in frustration to get the job on track. He stood out like red flag since the rest of the crew had on their PPE as required by the company, the city contract, and OSHA.

I shook my head, made a mental note and hurried to my meeting.

It was a nice day and we sat outside to discuss a variety of items. Suddenly, the hot mix machine was slowly driving by with two workers riding on the back of the rig with that same guy sans PPE driving. I signaled to the guys riding that the driver should be wearing a hard hat. They agreed, smiled and then shook their heads to indicate that he wasn’t going to wear his hard hat, and further, that I should mind my own business.

So, I am offering some advice to all of the owners out there. No matter what the conditions, never ask your crews to wear PPE and then put yourself in a hazardous position without doing it yourself. You will lose the respect of the crew and will possibly endanger yourself in the process.