Chairman’s Message: Staying Safe In Masonry

Chairman’s Message: Staying Safe In Masonry

Larry Vacala, MCAA Chairman

The MCAA annual auction was a success. Thank you to all that participated! There were many great items offered. A sincere thank you to everyone that donated. The auction would not have been possible without your generosity. Thank you to those that were bidding. Hopefully, you won the items you were going after. I was a successful bidder on some great items. Sorry if you were the one that I outbid. Grateful to all for supporting the MCAA! 

May weather in Chicago has not been favorable for outside work. We’ve had a lot of rain, and it’s been cooler than normal. Now that the weather is heating up, we’ll be adding to our crews. That means it’s time to prepare the new hires with a safety refresher course before they hit the job site.  

Safety should always be a top priority when accessing risk and reward. As a contractor having a solid safety program for your employees is essential. As an employee, be sure the company you work for has a good safety program. 

As a firefighter of 20 years, I responded to too many construction accidents. Most, if not all, of these accidents, could have been prevented. At the time of starting my company, I vowed to develop the best safety program possible. Not being an expert in construction safety, I searched for the best safety person available in our area. I found that expert, Henry DeVries. With Henry’s vision, we developed and initiated a safety program in accordance with Federal and State laws, local codes, and standards. We had every level of management commit to our program, providing and maintaining a safe working environment for all. Striving to make safety not only our goal but a way of life. The foundation for safety was formed, and we have been building on it since. 

When the pandemic hit, many important safety decisions had to be made to address the threat we all faced. Responding to what seemed like ever-changing CDC recommendations, local, federal, and state ordinances, owner requests, insurance requirements, and employee emotions all had to be clarified into a concise and thorough policy. We were creating new safety policies and procedures every week. As essential workers, when other industries were locked down, we had to establish clear guidelines for everyone to follow. Not necessarily having cleared all the hurdles of Covid. It is important to now look back at how we successfully navigated through the past two years. We all need to stay vigilant in our everyday approach going forward. 

Successful contractors have safety programs that produce zero injury outcomes because their program goes beyond just OSHA compliance. To not comply is a form of at-risk behavior and undermines your employees’ confidence in your program. The key is a complete commitment by all employees and all management. They will, one by one, become convinced that their company really does care about their health and well-being. This begins the creation of a safety culture. 

Form a safety committee made up of your field employees. The power of a good committee takes on a life of its own. It speaks to growth, vitality, innovation, and the bottom-line results in safety. Be sure employees receive formal recognition for their efforts to promote best safety practices. 

To honor the legacy of the late Henry DeVries, each year, we choose one employee that best represents Henry’s safety practices. Nominated by their peers, we recognize the five finalists at our Christmas party. The winner is then honored at a luncheon with their family, other employees, and the DeVries family. Everyone looks forward to becoming the next recipient of this prestigious award. 

We can say with certainty that talented people, experience, and hard work can make you profitable. But safety is the glue to every successful company. 

Be sure to review your company safety policies and keep them up to date. If you don’t have the resources or ability to have your own safety officer, you can log into the MCAA website and find all you need to know about safety in our industry. The MCAA has a safety committee comprised of experts throughout the country. This committee discusses the latest challenges to our industry and keeps all the safety information current.   

This article was dedicated in memory of the late, great Henry Devries.

Stay Safe and Stay Strong!

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