During these busy weeks, remember to carry the right tools to keep your crews happy and healthy.
A few summers ago I read a bizarre story about a worker visiting a construction site in New Jersey. A subcontractor making a routine delivery at a high-rise building, he pulled up in his car and left the vehicle to track someone down a few hundred feet away.
Maybe in a forgetful moment, or maybe because he knew he would be back to his car in a jiffy, the worker neglected to pull his hard hat off the passenger seat and put it on his head. Just as he was walking away from the truck, a worker 50 stories above dropped a tape measure.
You know where this is going. The tape measure struck the worker in the head and killed him. It was a freak occurrence. What are the odds that the unprotected worker would be below just as another worker fumbled the tape measure? Then what are the odds that this small tool would strike the worker below rather than slamming harmlessly into the ground?
It was the wrong place at the wrong time for the victim. The lesson for PROs is that we always have to prepare for being in the wrong place at the wrong time — and remembering during these busy summer weeks the importance of using every common safety device we carry in the service truck.
This month marks the busiest time of the busy season for most PROs. June and July were hectic enough, but in August you’re faced with construction workers trying to make deadlines, a few more weeks of frantic special event service, and the risk of inattention that comes with the late-season rush of work. It’s hot and sticky and you’ve got more stops on the route than ever before. You might be tempted to cut corners with safety, but this is the time you need to be most careful when responding to the job.
It’s time for the most basic tailgate safety meeting with your crews. No safety reminder is too simple if it keeps your workers out of harm’s way today. Make sure they don’t get in the truck without any of these items, and don’t let them forget that a single safety oversight can lead to injury … or even death.
Don’t leave these items behind:
Gloves and goggles: I have to admit I’ve been on the job with PROs who do not have gloves and goggles to protect themselves from dangerous exposure to waste. We insist on technicians wearing gloves and glasses during photo shoots when there is a risk of splashing during restroom service. I’ve even had a few PROs tell me they don’t believe these items are necessary, that there’s nothing wrong with a little exposure to holding tank waste. But make no mistake, cleanliness requires you to wear gloves and protective eyewear. Make sure your trucks are stocked with ample stock of gloves and goggles, and require your drivers to use them every time they exit the vehicle.
Reflective vest: Your drivers often have to get out of the truck alongside busy roads, and they frequently have to dart between the truck and restroom units during service stops. You want them to be as visible as possible to other drivers, and a reflective vest is the easiest and most effective solution. Vests are inexpensive and make your workers easy to spot in low-light situations.
Hard hat: They can be hot. They can be heavy and cumbersome to wear. But a hard hat should be a prerequisite, especially at construction job sites where hand tools and pneumatic nailers are in use. Provide the most comfortable and sturdy hard hat you can find and spot-check workers to ensure they’re wearing them when necessary.
Protective footwear: Open-toed shoes are a no-no for restroom service providers. Ordinary athletic shoes also don’t provide adequate protection for feet. Leather work boots with a steel-toe option are the best answer to protect workers’ feet from stubbing or crushing, and comfortable shoes will keep your workers healthier in general. Recently we wrote about a company that provides quality boots as a bonus for its workers. This comes with a cost up front, but can save you money from injury downtime later on.
Hand sanitizer: Infectious germs are everywhere when you’re running a portable restroom route. Hand sanitizer is the first thing you should grab when you return to the truck after a service. Keep a dispenser handy and use it often to stop the spread of germs inside the truck and when your drivers want to stop for a lunch or snack break.
Water bottle: Staying healthy on long, hot summer days requires staying hydrated. Workers can lose a lot of water during the course of a busy day. Make sure they have ample water on the truck. Stock a cooler with water bottles for daily routes and make sure workers have plenty of time for cool drinks and protein snacks during long days working special events.
What are your everyday essential safety items?
I know I’m forgetting some things drivers should carry to keep themselves safe on the job. For example, a smartphone is an indispensible device that helps you get through the day. You can share your safety tips by dropping me a line at email@example.com. Send me your ideas and I’ll publish them in a future story. Remember, safety is Job No. 1. At the end of the day, the health and happiness of your crew is what matters most.