January 2012

Zero Fatalities in 2012

As we start off the year in 2012, New Year resolutions are common, and as general president, I make the following resolution on behalf of our members.  NO IRONWORKER WILL DIE ON THE JOB!  This will be the year when our union does not suffer a single jobsite fatality — ZERO FATALITIES in 2012.
A few naysayers may echo, “But accidents happen.”  “Accident” infers that it happens by chance or is unavoidable.  That is not the case.  In reviewing past fatality reports, one element stands out.  They all could have been prevented.   As a union, dedicated to safe working conditions, we will not allow the death of one ironworker anywhere to be treated as an inherent risk of our profession.  This will be accomplished through the solidarity of our members and the partnership with our signatory contractors.
Safety must remain in the forefront of our thoughts and actions during the workday.  We will achieve this through our ZERO 2012 campaign.  Hardhat stickers, gang box signage, and local union, JATC, and jobsite posters have been distributed to every local union.  These visible reminders are a tool to reinforce what is at stake and that it will take everyone to save a life.
Our greatest asset is our brother and sister ironworkers, and the knowledge you have of our trade, your ability to recognize hazards and unsafe practices.  I have assigned each district council president to closely monitor the safety training progress and credentials of each local union as required through the Key Performance Indicators.  If you have not taken advantage of Subpart R, OSHA 10/30 training or any of the many journeyman upgrading classes offered; sign up now.  You owe it to yourself and your coworkers.
It is your actions, not only in working safe, but also in speaking up that will enable us to save lives.  Safety awareness, hazard recognition, and prevention are only words if not followed through with deeds.  See a frayed choker, speak up; see an open hole, speak up; someone not tied off, speak up.  SEE SOMETHING – SAY SOMETHING.  Better to speak with your foreman or coworker than your brother’s widow.  We have no higher obligation of brotherhood than to make sure everyone goes home safely.
Your employer, our contractor partners, understand safety is the one of the best investments they can make.  From the owner, to contractor to ironworker, everyone has a vested interest in a safe worksite. Your employer’s safety record is a critical element in their selection as an owner’s contractor.  Through joint labor-management efforts, the Ironworkers-IMPACT National Safety Honors Program has been established to recognize ironworkers and contractors who achieve outstanding safety performance.
Safety must be ingrained as part of our DNA and as second nature to us as signaling a crane.  By adopting practices that produce zero fatalities, we will reduce all worksite injuries because we never know the severity of a hazard until it is too late.  As ironworkers, we have always found a way to get the job done, to do what had not been done before.  We have never had a year without a brother ironworker being killed.  Until now.  ZERO 2012!
Thank you for helping to build our great union.