Effective Safety Training Goes Beyond the Hard Hat

Effective Safety Training Goes Beyond the Hard Hat

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What is an acceptable level of risk on the job? For Action Septic in Warsaw, Ohio, the answer is that there’s no acceptable level. But company owner Tim Kettler didn’t always operate that way.

“I never had a union job,” he says. “Every job I ever worked, I went at it wide open, let’s get it done.”

When he started work as a young man, he repeated the same mistakes, he says. “I found myself on one job alone, almost falling into a sump pump crock that was 10 foot deep, hanging by my knees.”

He drove overloaded trucks, and he took hits to the head when he worked construction. Over time, his practices improved, but his biggest awakening occurred because of a client. Action Septic’s largest customer, American Electric Power, operates a nearby coal-fired power plant and required anyone working there to take a safety class. Hard hats and eye protection were not optional.

“The safety procedures we learned there have been the most beneficial experiences we've had. I was not aware how easily I was allowing young guys to put themselves at risk,” Kettler says, adding that his crew of young men have families depending on them.

Among the lessons he learned:

• Do a prejob assessment. It can be brief, but it prevents having a casual attitude about routine jobs.

• Respect the odds. If it can happen, it eventually will happen.

• No job is worth injury or death. Consider the real risks.

• Safety is work. Get used to it.

Today, he and his team catch each other on safety problems. In reality, 99% of the problems they see don’t matter, and won’t matter, until that 1% of the time when knowing proper safety procedures saves someone’s life, Kettler says.

People think they’re safe if they have the right equipment or have someone else on the job. That’s not safety, Kettler says. Safety is a perception. It’s taking into account the workers who may be distracted by problems at home, he says.

To read more about Action Septic, check out the company’s contractor profile in the April issue of Pumper.


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