By Mark Rounds, VP of Corporate Development

Vogel Bros. Building Co.’s safety program starts with the foundational belief that “all jobsite accidents are preventable.” Our lean approach to safety takes every step into account to reduce wasteful motion which reduces exposure to injury. Another key element of our lean approach to safety is to use words that properly describe the actions.

Last month I wrote about punch lists, which in essence are lists of unmet owner expectations. At Vogel Bros. we call these lists what they truly are: “Defect Lists.” When contractors think of punch lists, they perceive a list of unfinished work that costs time and money to complete. These lists are inevitable on every job because there exists a communication gap between the owner’s desires, the architect’s design, and the contractor’s interpretation. For most contractors, punch lists are expected. But in fact, punch lists represent waste in the design and construction process. By classifying them as “defect lists” we raise the awareness of the parties involved to eliminate this waste from the process. Through timely communication, we can eliminate the gaps that cause the defects.

When you hear the word demolition (usually shortened to demo), you envision chaotic activity with sledgehammers and wrecking balls. It brings to mind a dangerous atmosphere with dust and debris everywhere. At Vogel Bros. we prefer the term deconstruction instead of demolition. Deconstruction brings to mind a planned, systematic, and orderly removal of materials. Deconstruction not only sounds safer, it is safer. The workers think differently, causing them to behave differently.

One of the most dangerous tools on a construction site is a hand held grinder. When you think of grinding, you imagine a dull, abrasive tool used to grind down edges. So why is this tool so dangerous? Because most of the time the operator uses this tool with a cutting blade. When the tool has a cutting blade, it is no longer a grinder – it is a cutter! By calling the tool a cutter, the worker thinks differently about the tool. At Vogel Bros. we have specific steps a worker must follow if they wish to use a cutting blade in a grinder. These steps assure the tool is used properly and safely to mitigate the risk involved in the work.

Words have influence. Using the right words makes a difference in how one thinks about a situation. Proper thinking promotes proper behavior. Proper behavior is the safest. And safe behavior prevents accidents.