One of the main questions asked at the first SMOHIT Safety Champions Conference was “What is a safety champion?” Fifty-one participants, including contractors, coordinators, business managers, business agents and organizers from more than 20 states, dug into this question and many others during the one-day event held in Washington, D.C. Sept. 14.
Participants broke out into six working groups and worked to come up with ideas for defining a safety champion and qualities and attributes this person should have as well as ideas for promoting a safety culture and benefits of being a safety champion. The ideas were shared with the room. Guest speakers such as General President Joseph Sellers urged everyone at the conference not to let the momentum created at the conference die.
“It’s not good enough you take them home,” Sellers said. “You need to take them home and work on them. We need to turn them into a real value for our industry and our members,”
Disseminating information to all sheet metal workers is the key to raising the safety culture, making safety a priority and recognizing safety is a positive culture on a job site, not a negative one. Encouraging workers to take safety time-outs, report unsafe practices without a fear of retaliation, be proactive to prevent accidents before they happen and working to involve everyone from company owners to apprentices in positive safety practices were only some of the ideas discussed.
“A safety culture is a work in progress,” said Mike McCullen, director of safety and health for SMACNA. “There are hazards out there, sure. That’s all about the job and getting the job done. It’s hazardous, but it’s not unsafe.”
The inaugural Safety Champions Conference is another example of how SMOHIT is working to protect its members. SMART members are encouraged to take advantage of the resources and information available to them from SMOHIT, including a comprehensive website, e-blasts, Facebook and other social media.
Click here to view photos from the awards ceremony and conference.