Safety lessons we can learn from Bob the Builder

| October 16, 2013

If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Bob the Builder, successful general contractor specializing in masonry with his own construction yards in Bobsville, Sunflower Valley, and Fixham Harbour, don’t feel too out of the loop. This handyman is a fictional character on his self-titled, animated children’s television show. Bob has done it all – built bridges, paved roads, fixed building exteriors. Just because you aren’t a part of the show’s target demographic doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the important safety practices Bob and his crew responsibly heed while working on both residential and commercial sites.

Wear your hard hat!

Why be hard-headed about wearing a hard hat? All the time in New York City, I spot construction workers working without their hard hats. OSHA regulation 1926.100(a) states “Employees working in areas where there is a possible danger of head injury from impact, or from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns, shall be protected by protective helmets.” Your head is the most important part of your body, which makes your hard hat the most important piece of personal protective equipment. Even if there is no apparent danger to your head nearby, wearing your hard hat will protect you from unexpected hazards. Use your head and wear your hard hat.

And don’t forget protective eyewear.

Like all of us, Bob makes mistakes. In the beginning of the show, he was criticized for failing to wear his protective eyewear. Someone must have reported Bob to OSHA, because in later episodes he is seen wearing safety glasses. OSHA’s eye and face protection regulation, 1910.133(a)(1), requires employers to  “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.”  In addition, 1910.133(a)(2) states “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects.”

Follow ladder safety guidelines.

Bob is often seen using ladders to complete important tasks. Back in 2007, he even teamed up with Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a British independent regulator for work-related health and safety, in support of its ladder safety campaign. The goal of the campaign’s “ladder exchange” was to remove unsafe ladders from Great Britain’s workplaces and reduce fatalities and injuries as a result of falling from heights. OSHA also takes ladder safety and fall prevention very seriously. OSHA’s three steps to prevent falls include: plan ahead to get the job done safely, provide the right equipment, and train everyone to use the equipment safely.

Make sure your first aid kit is adequately prepared and ready for use.

Bob and his crew face on-site dangers in nearly every episode, and have been known to pull out their first aid kit when it’s needed. OSHA standard 1926.23 mandates employees have easy access to first aid services. An effective first aid kit includes bandages, gauze pads, compress dressings, antibiotic ointment, scissors, both cloth and adhesive tape, resuscitation equipment, splint, tweezers, latex gloves, a blanket, and a first aid instruction booklet. It’s also important that employees know where it’s located. If Wendy gets a papercut, what good is the antibiotic ointment in the first aid kit if Bob didn’t show her where to find it?

Safely operate equipment.

On Bob’s jobsites, he uses a multitude of machines, including a backhoe loader, bulldozer, crane, and road roller. Of course, in Bobsville, the machines have names and personalities, but here in the U.S., we should always train our employees to safely use the equipment they need to get the job done. Getting on and off machines is the number one cause of injury for equipment operators and drivers. Prior to getting on a machine, ensure there are safe hand and foot holds to reduce your chances of slipping. Before getting on or off equipment, check your boots and gloves to make sure they’re dry, free of mud, and secure. When getting off a machine, do not try to carry more materials than you are safely able to. Construction equipment has the potential to be extremely dangerous, so even if you use a machine every day, never stop taking precautions.

Work in teams.

The reason Bob the Builder is so successful is because he employs a hard-working group that depends on teamwork. Sharing responsibility, building trust, and establishing goals helps ensure high-quality results.

 

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