For many union members, mastering steel industry safety measures is about more than just ticking off a box during training. But they may need some help knowing how to stay safe and healthy while working in potentially dangerous situations.
Here are three steps to take to create a safer and more engaged steel worker membership.
1. Recognize the Challenges of Being a Structural Iron or Steel Worker
Steel workers face a host of dangers on their worksites. The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union notes several injuries that steel workers may endure, including:
- Falling through openings in floors with inadequate coverings
- Getting struck by falling tools or other objects
- Encountering electrical hazards from power lines
- Facing heat illness or exposure to chemicals
Having a better understanding of what dangers steel workers face can help guide you toward the best way to make members safer.
2. Prepare Steel Industry Safety Resources for Members
Creating a culture of safety among members in the steel industry doesn't happen overnight. It starts with a solid education on what hazards members should look out for and how they can protect themselves. Members should have a comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of what safety standards are in place for their worksites, as well as what kind of equipment steel workers need and what state it should be in so that they can use it safely.
You don't have to create resources with this information entirely by yourself. The federal government plays a role in the monitoring and citation of companies that don't adhere to federal safety standards. Because of this, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers its own safety resources for workers, including a list of solutions to common steel industry hazards. Make sure members in the steel industry are aware of resources they can explore on their own to protect their safety on the job.
3. Educate Members on How to Prioritize Their Safety
Once you've gathered resources for members in the steel industry, the you'll be well-positioned to educate members on various workplace risks they might encounter and guide them toward the best ways to avoid injuries. A survey of members' main safety questions and concerns can help you determine who needs to see which kinds of information.
When educating members, make an effort to present information in the way members will find the most useful. Some members might prefer to read short, frequent safety tips in a digital newsletter, while others may find it more convenient to receive a printed brochure with explanations of where to find more detailed safety information. The information could also be tied to other communications. For example, pair documents covering health risks and how to avoid them with the health insurance information members receive before open enrollment. These documents can draw new connections between important safety elements, such as injury prevention strategies and the importance of having the right health care coverage in case of an accident or injury.
Likewise, in documents explaining members' rights, include information about what safety conditions and equipment they should expect on the job — and how to escalate concerns or violations to the proper parties.
Steel work will always bring some dangers. But by taking an active role in helping members avoid preventable injuries, you empower them to protect their health.
Tracey Lewis, journalist and author focuses primarily on B2B health care, financial services and other internal corporate communications. Author of a best-selling pop-culture book published by Random House Books, and a trained oral historian, Tracey also enjoys delving into music, arts and film content. Skilled in SEO optimization and digital storytelling, she knows how to collaborate with communications, policy, research, legal and designer teams to create and execute cohesive content strategies.