April 2012

IMPACT Contractors Embrace Ironworker Zero Fatality Campaign

The Iron Workers and the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT) launched the Countdown to Zero Fatalities campaign January 1 of this year to fanfare throughout the ironworking community. The motto: See something, say something. We all go home safe. The ultimate goal: Not one ironworker will die on the job this year—or ever again.

Now, contractors are also spreading the safety awareness message throughout their organizations, promoting responsibility and education to save lives and reduce onsite injuries.

“We’re partnering with contractors and leveraging a whole array of new communications technologies to stress the importance of this initiative,” said Walter Wise, general president of the Iron Workers. “We have hardhat stickers, gangbox stickers, neon wristbands, press releases going out online and through social media.” The Iron Workers and IMPACT even commissioned a countdown clock on the campaign’s official webpage, counting down the days until Jan. 1, 2013, at which time all ironworkers and contractors can celebrate Zero Fatalities together.

The first step toward a safer workplace requires awareness education. “When we talk about Countdown to Zero, we also discuss the ‘deadly dozen,’ which are twelve, all-too-common hazards on the jobsite,” explained Steve Rank, executive director of safety and health for the Iron Workers. “First, we have to educate ironworkers and contractors when it comes to identifying a potentially hazardous situation. It saves lives.”

Rank discussed the “deadly dozen” extensively throughout North America at IMPACT’s Regional Advisory Board (RAB) meetings last fall, at the 2012 North American Iron Workers/IMPACT Labor-Management Conference in Las Vegas in January and most recently online during a hit webinar, conducted February 29 to an audience of ironworkers and contractors, representing more than 70 different locals unions and contracting companies from across the United States and Canada. For those who were unable to participate in the Webinar, but are still interested in learning more about Rank’s safety message, recordings of the webinar are accessible to business managers, district council presidents, and contractors through the IMPACT bookstore at http://www.impact-net.org/.

Rank’s webinar addressed the first six of the “deadly dozen” hazardous jobsite activities. Rank will focus on the second half of the “deadly dozen” in an upcoming webinar.

“The cooperation of our contractor partners is paramount to the success of Zero 2012,” General President Wise said. “Our training delivers the ability to recognize and avoid hazards while our Zero 2012 awareness campaign makes every member responsible for looking out for each other.”

Alissa Schneider, president of Danny’s Construction Company, Shakopee, Minn., first heard about the Countdown to Zero Fatalities campaign through General President Wise’s December 2012 video blog. “Show this to your crews. Send it to your brothers and sisters in ironworking. Repeat the message, repeat the message, repeat the message, and LEAD the way every day,” she wrote in a recent broadcast email to her company.

Schneider added, “The countdown clock on the Iron Workers’s website is a great way to stress the urgency of the challenge. Each working minute in the day presents numerous risks and the decisions made each minute matter.”

Matthew Johnson, a project manager at Danny’s, said that he was so inspired by Wise’s message, he has decided to show the video to the men on his jobsites. “If anything were ever to happen in the field, we’d have to live with it the rest of our lives. We’d have to consider what we could have done differently,” Johnson said. “This campaign reminds us to be aware of hazards so nothing can go wrong.”

“‘Fatalities’ are never accidents,” added Rank. “‘Accident’ implies that something unforeseen and unpreventable happened. A fatality is always preventable.”

Darlaine Taylor, president of Century Steel Erectors, Dravosburg, Pa., said that under her leadership, a “culture of safety” is paramount. “We’ve held an annual safety meeting for the past 26 years. This year, we’ve invited Steve Rank from the Iron Workers to talk about the ‘deadly dozen’ common jobsite hazards,” Taylor said. “In the past, we’ve had Eric Waterman, CEO of IMPACT, Joe Hunt, general president emeritus from the Iron Workers, and other union tradesmen.”

“We wanted to bring the campaign here, hardhat stickers, posters and all,” she added. Taylor said that Century Steel’s safety day also serves as a venue for the company’s annual safety awards. “It lends the recipients a lot of recognition, and that’s what’s important. It’s important to be recognized for being safe and setting a good example.”

Century Steel Erectors’s safety day consistently draws more than 200 ironworkers and company employees. This year’s safety day was held on Saturday, March 31.

“These contractors are just a few of many who have begun to broadcast the ‘Countdown to Zero Fatalities’ message to their organizations,” IMPACT CEO Waterman said.

“A safe jobsite is in everyone’s best interest from the owner to contractor to ironworker and their family,” added General President Wise. “A safe jobsite is a productive jobsite and delivers a quality project that everyone can look back on with pride and accomplishment.”

General President Wise thanks ironworkers and contractors for their commitment to safety in his latest video blog, online at http://bit.ly/gpwise_zero2012.

If you have not received your Countdown to Zero Fatalities hardhat sticker, gangbox sticker, or neon wristband, please contact your local business manager for more information. Visit www.ironworkers.org/zero2012 to learn more about the Zero Fatalities campaign.