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How safe is your site?

Every organization must ensure that its employees are not in harms way and that means providing training and adhering to specific guidelines.


May 1, 2006  


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Over the years I have written many columns on BICSI activities, technology and issues that affect members. One item I have not written about is safety on the job. Why now?

My work responsibilities have changed and I now manage people rather than products, and that requires a much different mindset. Since my background includes stints as a foreman, the safety issue has not been a stretch. However, it is now apparent to me just how important safety is for all projects.

I have a number of project managers reporting to me that go to customer sites. Some are new construction, some are renovations, and many are traditional office sites where clients need new cabling work implemented without disrupting day-to-day operations.

Since being on this job I have heard stories of technicians losing fingers and having head injuries from being pinched between building steel.

Different avenues

I have also heard about improper use of man-lifts, slips and falls from treacherous areas, and concerns with asbestos, radiation and chemicals in many different work locations.

It all sounds ominous but there are many different avenues to learn and educate oneself in dealing with this and minimizing the threat to yourself and others.

Consult your BICSI manual for detailed safety information specifically for information transport systems (ITS) professionals. The Information Transport Systems Installation Manual (ITSIM), specifically, highlights common safety practices for the industry.

It is not complete, but it is a good start. Every organization must ensure that its employees are safe — that means providing training and strictly adhering to specific guidelines.

The ITSIM says that the two main Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards with which the ITS industry is concerned, but to which it is not limited, are: Title 29 (OSHA 29 CFR), Labour — Part 1910: Occupational Safety and Health Standards, and Title 29 (OSHA 29 CFR), Labour — Part 192: Safety and Health Regulations for Construction.

In Canada, there are various provincial associations, provincial Ministries of Labour, and WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) that have similar documents to guide us in safe working practices.

The ITSIM also reminds us that being safe is not only about wearing a hard hat. Learning CPR and basic first aid are also important parts of safety.

Every job site should have a fully stocked First Aid kit and properly cleaned eye wash stations. Be sure to learn and teach the six basic steps of safely assisting others without endangering yourself in an emergency rescue situation.

Communicate effectively on the job, particularly if the work is being performed in two locations. Designate work areas with safety cones, caution tape or folding A-frame signs, while keeping the building occupants’ needs in mind. Before entering a job site, you should also read up on tools and equipment, ladder and lift safety.

You’re probably not going to need all of this information tomorrow. However, you never know when it may become a matter of life or death, so do learn and understand the safety information provided to you by the many organizations — construction safety associations, the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA), the local building inspectors, safety officers of your customer, as well as safety equipment suppliers. BICSI manuals such as the Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM) and the ITSIM will certainly give you some insight into the many different aspects of on-the-job safety, too.

You should learn and understand what precautions you have to take in having a safe work environment for yourself, your employees and your customers.

Upcoming BICSI Events: If you believe education and training are important for you to broaden your skills and prosper in your business, the BICSI Link Workshops taking place in Chicago, Ill. June 25-28 is one event you will want to attend. That’s because you have a choice of 32 workshops within the four educational tracks –data centers, security, wireless and diverse business management.

You can stay within one track or pick and choose the workshops you want to attend. You have more choice and more control over your educational experience, a true multi-choice training experience with great value. Call BICSI at 1-800-BICSI-05 or www.bicsi.org for more information.

Roman Dabrowski, RCDD, is the Canadian Director of BICSI and a Director of Product Management with Bell Canada. He can be reached via e-mail at rdabrowski@bicsi.org.