When Ken Keberle, technical resources director at Karl’s Event Rental, Oak Creek, Wis., took a crew to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, for a tent installation, the group encountered stringent Canadian safety requirements. A lot of those requirements—such as wearing fluorescent vests and hard hats—became habits, and the company brought those habits back to its U.S. jobs.
Site safety standards in the United States are a jumble, varying not only from state to state and from residential to commercial sites, but also from official to official, depending on the interpretation of standards in local markets. The upshot of this situation is that it’s pointless to set company safety standards in response to specific regulations. A better approach is to set standards that focus on ensuring the safety of installers. The standards aren’t coherent or sufficient, and the goal should be to exceed them.
“Historically, regulation happens after there are incidences of loss,” Keberle points out. “We can be better than that. Say you’re putting up a tent, and you are aware that there is a [potential overhead] hazard. How should you react to that? You should react to that by requiring hard hats [be worn] anytime the construction goes above grade. We’re trying to stay ahead of the enforcement mechanisms. We’re encouraging members of IFAI to create their own programs that will reduce injuries. We want to reduce the likelihood that there will be an incident that would require increased enforcement by federal or state programs.”