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Designing Safety into Municipal Fiber Projects: Part One

Designing Safety into Municipal Fiber Projects: Part One

Published on: June 17, 2021

Categories: Safety

When many of us think about job site safety, our thoughts quickly turn to the workers in the field, their equipment, surrounding property, existing infrastructure, and the general public.

However, the topic of job site safety is often not mentioned until it is time for construction and can be easily overlooked during the planning and design stages. It is essential to discuss a few early-stage safety topics when planning your next fiber project. Whether you are responsible for the design phase, the construction phase, or if you are tackling a turnkey design-build project, we all have an obligation to keep each other safe.

It is well known that utility line construction work is a dangerous profession, and the topic of safety should be a daily conversation embedded into your construction crew’s routine. But ask yourself this: “What safety measures can be implemented during the design and planning phases that will set your project and team up for future success?”

The answer may surprise you, as several considerations can be easily implemented during the initial planning and design stages to reduce the project risk and help keep your team safe. Six essential topics should be discussed with your teams when planning a network construction project:

  1. 1. Establishing a Safety Culture
  2. 2. All Field Work is Dangerous
  3. 3. Communicating Effectively
  4. 4. Identifying Existing Utilities
  5. 5. Finding the Right Materials and Location
  6. 6. Closing out a Project

Learn more about the first two in this article and check back over the next few weeks for more information on our remaining topics.

1. Establishing a Safety Culture

One of the biggest problems with safety often lies in the failure to execute. Management and field crews can talk about safety, train regularly, get certified and maintain safety credentials. But the moment field crews start taking shortcuts or management turns a blind eye to established procedures, the safety culture quickly becomes watered down, and the execution is non-existent.

Newer workers will mimic what they see the veterans and leadership do, so it is important to set expectations and model proper behavior at all levels. Make sure safety procedures, and construction standards are established practices, not just policies on paper.

2. All Field Work is Dangerous

Jobsite risk is not isolated strictly to incidents when heavy equipment is present. Workers are exposed anytime they are in the field, well before a shovel hits the dirt.

Wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential during all site meetings and taking field notes during the design phase. Always ask yourself, “what could go wrong?”

Be aware of your surroundings and have an action plan ready in case an incident occurs. Train personnel to always be in a defensive position when working around traffic.

Wearing proper clothing and footwear for the environment is vital to ensure safety from the elements. Ensuring workers are highly visible on the job site by wearing reflective vests and brightly colored clothing will provide additional protection in potentially dangerous conditions.

Learn about communication and existing utilities when discussing safety on your next Network Construction Project in Part 2.