It is no secret that construction has historically been among the nation's most dangerous industries. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), there were 991 construction-related fatalities reported in 2016. The leading causes of worker deaths (excluding highway collisions) fell into the notorious category we call the "Fatal Four" — falls, struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between accidents.
By eliminating these types of accidents, the BLS claims we would save 631 workers' lives each year. Southland's safety department is well aware of these statistics and they are exactly why we strive to perform as much work as possible in our prefabrication shops, where we have the ability to control our work environments.
Building in shop environments allows us to work faster and safer. We can control the temperature, logistics, workstation setup, and tools — luxuries that are unavailable to us on the construction site. By controlling our environment and building faster and safer, we can also have a positive impact on the safety of a jobsite. Eliminating congestion and setting up work stations that are out of the way of mobile equipment, for example, all ties back into our goal of eliminating the "Fatal Four."
When considering onsite safety, we often have a host of uncontrollable factors that can make a safe or unsafe site. There may be multiple contractors on site creating communication issues, the location or size of the site may play into the safe storage and logistics of materials, or perhaps the buildings may contain hazardous materials like asbestos or lead. These, too, are all good reasons why we want to prefabricate as much as we possibly can and, in turn, lower our safety risks on our project sites.
Any way you look at it, prefabrication of our mechanical work is a win for Southland. It's cleaner, more efficient, and, most importantly, eliminates or controls the "Fatal Four," making it safer for employees to do their work.
Division Safety Manager
Zach Gill is the Northern California Division Safety Manager for Southland Industries. With over 10 years of experience as a safety professional, he is a strong advocate of Prevention through Design and Lean practices, believing these two practices can make all the difference when it comes to preventing an incident.