In 2018, 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, including 5,280 deaths. Roughly 21% of workplace fatalities took place at construction sites. The majority of these fatalities were the result of electrocutions, falls, struck-by hazards, and caught-in or -between hazards.
As the safety noncommissioned officer-in-charge and medic for the 492nd Engineer Vertical Construction Company (EVCC), Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery Puckett is well aware of the innate risks at construction sites.
“As a medic first, I have a realistic idea of what injuries could and do take place on job sites,” Puckett said. “I see injuries in my normal duty; I then get ideas of how people get hurt, and then I use that on the safety side to help prevent future injury.”
As the safety NCOIC, Puckett is in charge of assessing risk, making sure safety guidelines are followed, and ensuring his personnel follow military regulations at all times.
“It starts with me getting my risk assessment form and going through the on-site checklist of do’s and don’ts,” Puckett said.
After checking his risk assessment form, Puckett conducts an on-site walk-around to look for any potential hazards.
“On site, I’m looking at all areas, ensuring they’re safe, secure, and free of debris,” Puckett said. “Once you’ve worked somewhere for a while you can start to get complacent and start to forget about things such as excess lumber on the ground and extra materials lying around. I’m here to make sure these things aren’t overlooked, potentially causing a future incident.”
Along with a well-organized work environment, Puckett makes sure everyone wears the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for each job.
“When it comes to safety in the work place, PPE is a necessity,” said U.S. Army Capt. Paul Hinton, company commander, 492nd EVCC, CJTF-HOA. “Without it, injury is bound to happen. It won’t be if, it will be when.”
According to Hinton, when people work in an area long enough, they start to get comfortable and begin to overlook potentially harmful situations.
“Without safety precautions, people can get hurt,” Hinton said. “Worst case scenario, someone receives a fatal injury.”