On the hit show from the Discovery Channel, Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe made famous the following expression: safety third. For those who enjoyed a good laugh, it was obvious why the show was a hit.
But in the real world, safety is no laughing matter. And when we put safety third, we are really eliminating safety altogether. Here’s how our priorities often go:
- Saving money on a project
- The personal satisfaction of doing it yourself
If we are to make safety in home improvement projects as much of a real priority as safety in business, then we have to stop beginning projects with a cost analysis to see how much money we can save. Instead, we have to start with a different set of questions:
- Will I put myself, my family, and my property in danger if I do this project?
- Do I have the necessary skills and equipment to do this project at all?
- Are there good reasons for me to call in a professional?
Starting with a better set of questions and assumptions leads us to make better decisions. Here are some other considerations that will help you put safety back in the top spot where it belongs:
The Right Tools for the Job
We are tool-making and tool-using creatures. Some jobs can be done without the right tools. But the jobs will be done poorly and in a less safe manner.
You don’t have to buy branded gear, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes. There can be some real benefits in using a trusted brand like Tillman, for example, that makes TIG welding gloves. These companies have a lot of experience in making something as specialized as safety gear, or making specific kinds of tools.
Technology resources like online videos can be a big help in telling you how to do a thing the right way. But you often don’t get the full story on what you need to do to do that thing in the safest manner possible. It is often the case that a lot of prior knowledge is assumed. And safety takes a backseat.
There is also a dangerous assumption that high-tech equals best. But the best tool is the safest tool. And it is often more basic. Better tech can be the answer. Safety can certainly benefit from technological advancements. But it is unsafe to assume that more tech makes it safer.
One of the primary reasons for accidents and injuries is a failure to use the right tool or work with the right gear. Safety first means starting with sate tools and safety equipment, at any price.
The Right Help
Do it yourself does not mean doing it alone. Some jobs simply require more hands and feet than you have. And not all of the jobs that can be done by yourself can be done safely by yourself.
Before doing any construction management, you need to be certain of all the tools you will need to complete the project, all of the time you need to complete the project, and all of the people you will need to complete the project.
Here again, technology could help. You can start with the same construction estimating software used by professionals. This will give you a better idea of what you need to complete the project before you ever get started.
It is not enough to secure the help of a friend for a couple of days when what you need is the help of a 5-person crew for two weeks. What started off as a safe project becomes unsafe as your help wonders away.
The Right Education
There is a huge difference between knowing how to strip wire and knowing the physics of electricity. Having grown up watching your dad do that sort of thing is not a proper education for those advanced projects, as useful as these free tutorials are.
There is some work that you simply should not do without a proper certification from an accredited university. There are many things that will never be safe for a person who does not have the right educational background.
You can find many accredited universities online that get you started on the right track. It is not all about free videos that make you think you can do anything in 5 minutes using three easy steps. To finish the project with the right results, you need to start it with the right education.
The Right Insurance
What happens when you take all the right safety precautions and something dreadful still goes wrong? There is simply no substitute for seeking the right insurance for the job you are about to do.
When you hire a contractor, you want to make sure they are both licensed and bonded. Accept no substitute. Here is a quick definition of both terms:
- Licensed Documentation showing that the contractor has the proper training in her field
- Bonded Verification that the contractor has sufficient money set aside in the event things go wrong
As a person working on your own projects, you should hold yourself to the same standards. Be sure that you have the proper knowledge before you start. And be certain you have the necessary resources set aside in the event something goes horribly wrong. Without these guarantees, it is not safe to start the project.
Safety is no laughing matter. So let’s save the jokes about safety third for TV comedians. To put safety first, be sure to attain the right tools and equipment ahead of time. Secure the right help for the duration of the project. And be prepared to make things right if it doesn’t work out the way you intended.