Construction Safety Week 2021: MATT Implements New Elevated Work Permit
MATT’s Director of Safety develops new safety checklist to bolster cognizance on the job
Construction Safety Week is the annual week-long event that offers firms in the industry an opportunity to refresh and recommit to their safety strategies and practices. If operating during the era of COVID-19 has reinforced anything, it’s that the health and safety of our employees and communities continue to be the most critical pillar of our work at MATT. Joe Gregorwich, MATT’s Director of Safety, has developed a new Elevated Work Permit with the intention of adding an additional layer of awareness and protection for builders working at heights on jobsites.
As many within the industry know, falls account for 33% of all construction deaths a year. And while fall protection continues to be a paramount safety focus, Gregorwich has observed that falling objects also pose major safety hazards that often get overlooked. Having been a safety leader in the construction industry for nearly 20 years, Gregorwich knows of the many near misses and injuries that have resulted from falling objects in our industry. The root cause? Gregorwich explains that most often these mishaps don’t result from a lack of skill or inexperience, but rather from workers failing to recognize that humans are fallible and that accidents can happen to anyone. Gregorwich saw a need for more education around this topic and formulated the Elevated Work Permit as a way to add another layer of educational priming and awareness for workers in the field.
The objective of the Elevated Work Permit is not to continuously remind workers of the safety protocols that they already know, but instead, the goal is to pose questions that prime workers to think critically about potential accidents and how to better prepare for them before addressing the task at hand. Outside stressors and distractions act as major interferences to a focused mindset in the field. By incorporating the Elevated Work Permit as a simple step along the way to getting the job done, workers have another opportunity to bring focused awareness to the risks associated with their work, so that a simple distraction, something as minor as a sneeze or a bee sting, doesn’t snowball into a tool being dropped off of a building and someone getting hurt.
What is it?
The permit is required for any work occurring six feet or more above the next lowest level and within eight feet of the horizontal edge of a deck or leading edge. Gregorwich developed this permit intuitively employing the safety principles he uses to guide MATT’s workforce on a daily basis. Building upon a series of prompts regarding fall protection, the permit then addresses falling object prevention through the means of engineering controls (e.g. catch nets, platforms, barriers), securement of objects (e.g. leashes, lanyards, temporary fasteners), and monitored restricted access zones (e.g. barricaded area on lower level with a dedicated spotter).
The Elevated Work Permit has already been adopted on a variety of MATT jobsites by safety managers and superintendents that serve as ambassadors of the initiative. Similar to a hot-work permit/checklist, the Elevated Work Permit is meant to be completed before any work happens at the heights outlined in the permit. Eventually, once the permit has been implemented into all MATT jobsites, the checklist will be tracked and measured in weekly safety audit forms alongside other mandatory safety permits.
Gregorwich believes that knowledge and awareness are the two most important elements to safety on any given jobsite. By incorporating the Elevated Work Permit into workflows, employees are given another opportunity to preplan for the safe execution of their work. When asked about simple, micro-level habits workers can implement to promote safety on the job, Gregorwich says, “The simplest effort workers can implement during their day-to-day lives is to ask questions like, ‘What are the obstacles and threats that have the potential to interfere with my success today?,’ or ‘If something goes wrong, what is my back up plan to ensure that no one gets hurt?’”
On any given project, MATT Construction partners “with the project owner to go above and beyond Cal/OSHA requirements and ensure a safe and healthy environment – not only for construction personnel, but for neighbors in the surrounding community,” says Joe Gregorwich, MATT’s Director of Safety. He adds that this attitude is no different from how MATT Construction runs as a whole – it’s all about people, partnership and working towards everyone’s best interests.