Safe and healthy environment


Jeffrey is still young and strong, but he coughs like an old man. I say: Do you smoke? “No, I work in construction. There’s dust around me all day.” I say: Why don’t you put on a dust mask?

“Come on man, nobody does that. People will make fun of me!”

That behavior is typical in construction. Talking about safety is often seen as complaining. I understand that, but to me, you are only a true professional if you are willing to insist that your employees work in a safe and healthy environment. Ever heard of pneumoconiosis? It’s a serious lung disease caused by repeated inhalation of dust. Construction workers can get it, but so can metal workers, miners and stonemasons.

I want to ask Jeffrey if he drinks enough water while working, but I don’t, because I already know the answer. Guess which professions report the highest frequency of dehydration? Construction workers, roofers, and welders are at the top of the list.

I am not interested in sounding like a know-it-all, but as an insurance consultant, I see the consequences of unhealthy and unsafe work habits. It’s not only bad for the workers, but for the business as well. These habits can end up costing lots of money. A sick employee can cost two-and-a-half times his/her gross wage expenses, not only due to potential loss of sales, but also because their work now has to be done by colleagues (overtime) or by new hired help.

Many companies have all kinds of rules regarding health and safety in the workplace. But how well are those rules truly enforced? Look at an average construction company: taking risks and acting macho about it is part of the culture in that profession. Being safe at work is “only for wimps”. Everybody knows that you have to wear a helmet and comply with all those other safety rules, but do they always do it? Here’s an important key to a safer and healthier workplace: daily reinforcement. Rules are important, but how we treat those rules is even more important.

Leadership plays an essential role here. Company directors are the ones who largely determine business culture and work style. Setting the right example here is crucial. Driving up to the construction site in your beautiful Audi and walking around the site in your fancy suit is only showing that you are ignoring the rules. Putting on a safety vest and a helmet clearly sets the right example and shows that the rules are important to you. And Jeffrey respects that too.

At ENNIA we deal with employee-related risks all the time, so we know how you can minimize risks in the workplace by taking simple preventative measures. We’d love to share our knowledge with you.

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Sayonara Tiel
ENNIA Corporate Insurance Specialist