More than 20 years ago, at my former firm, Fisher Tank Company, the then new President, Leo Pasini, made a lasting impression on my mindset toward safety. Leo was a big advocate for safety at work, having been a field foreman for many years and building welded steel storage tanks all over the world. Occasionally, he’d pull out his wallet and carefully remove a worn scrap of paper with a handwritten list on it. “These are the names,” he’d explain softly, “of the five men who died on my job sites.” He’d read the names aloud, and it was clear how these tragedies still weighed on him, decades later. Then, with a tremble in his voice, he’d say, "They never made it home to their families.” He'd remind us how safety on construction sites starts with wearing the proper safety gear, always, every day, no exceptions, “So every worker goes home at the end of the day in the same condition that they came to work.”
I’m very fortunate to have had this strong safety culture drilled into my head early in my career – it has become second nature. No matter the job site, I’m always prepared with my hard hat, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, gloves, and a safety vest, because it’s always packed in my trunk and ready to go. I never enter a job site without it, and the hard hat, in particular, has saved my noggin on multiple occasions!
A few weeks ago while on a routine stop at a tank job site, I was surprised to see the client pulling in the driveway. I walked over to his car and gave him a big hug, happy to see him. He explained that he was taking an intern to lunch, but wanted to show him the tank painting. He asked if they could walk around and look under the containment tarp. In response, I asked if he had hard hats and safety glasses for the two of them. He said he didn’t, so I explained the dangers on the site with the risk of equipment and tools falling inside the containment area, and I respectfully declined their request. They were disappointed, but understanding, and left for lunch. But I had to wonder: What if I hadn’t been there? How many times had this client, whom I’ve known for years and consider a friend, stopped by the site on his way to work, and had unwittingly put himself and others at risk?
I wondered if the safety lesson on-site that day was enough and how I could help make safety a habit for him. So, I mailed the client a hard hat and safety glasses, along with a copy of this story, with the hope that it would stick with him the way Leo's story had with me. I’m happy to report that the safety gear is now in his trunk so he’ll be prepared in the future.
Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility; so, always be prepared with the right safety gear for your sites and never make exceptions. When it comes to safety, everyone needs to go home at the end of the day, safe and sound.
Stay safe out there, my friends.