by Kevin Kolhonen
Given the scale and complexity of the projects we undertake, the health and wellness of our team, clients, and those they serve, as well as the safety of each worksite, is always a top priority.
As the company’s health and safety manager, I am charged with overseeing wide-ranging assignments including the implementation, oversight, and maintenance of our company’s safety policies, procedures, compliance plans, and improvement initiatives. I also monitor industry regulations, visit construction sites to ensure the safety of our workers, and establish regular communications with field supervisors and field staff among other stakeholders.
Health and safety is of particular importance when it comes to our work at healthcare facilities, and at JM Electrical we are committed to meeting and exceeding industry best practices. These multifaceted assignments require a thoughtful, comprehensive approach in order to identify and eliminate risks, prevent accidents, promote efficiency, and avoid costly delays.
Even before work begins, whether it’s a renovation, expansion, or new construction, we partner with our clients, from world-renowned hospitals and healthcare centers to innovative labs, manufacturing plants, and state-of-the-art research facilities. To protect our team, clients, their staff, and in some cases patients, we provide our employees with top-of-the-line Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): everything from high visibility clothing, hard hats, hearing protection, and safety glasses; high-quality gear designed to shield everyone from injury and infection.
Through extensive advance planning and wide-ranging inspections at healthcare facilities, we are able to coordinate schedules with senior facilities management teams, Office of Planning and Design & Construction staff, and subcontractors. At the outset of each job, our team members are made aware of all access and egress points, and the location of fire detection, communications, and alarm systems. In light of the unique circumstances at healthcare facilities we always consider a number of factors: How close or far are patients, staff, and visitors from active construction sites? Will noise, vibration or dust impact patients, researchers, and employees? Can projects be scheduled based on the level of activity during certain shifts?
We isolate construction activities from patient care by creating separate entrances and exits at job sites. This simple practice minimizes or eliminates interaction with patients, visitors, vendors, and staff. As part of the planning process, we conduct job site hazard analyses of all work proposed at healthcare locations to prevent injuries, avoid contamination, safeguard air quality, and reduce overall risk. Because of the materials and equipment used on construction sites we implement contaminant control procedures to protect building occupants, and use of portable dust containment units. To prevent disruption, we manage and coordinate deliveries, keeping clear of emergency rooms and other high-traffic areas.
To ensure a safe work environment, accountability and education are essential. And as with medical care, prevention is the goal. Each day we monitor and evaluate construction sites and clearly communicate questions and concerns with key personnel. When problems arise, we take the necessary steps to make corrections, eliminate hazards on the jobsite, and revise plans accordingly. When it comes to safety, every member of the construction team must be engaged, aware and focused. With this issue always top of mind we can protect customers, their employees, and the vulnerable individuals already receiving care. Equally important, we can prevent our team members from becoming patients themselves.
Kevin Kolhonen is health and safety manager at JM Electrical, Inc.