John LeBlanc is a framing contractor in Scottsdale, AZ. Here, he describes how the death of a new hire made it clear just how important fall protection is to his crews.
We had a crew out building a house, and I think they were on the job for three days, a brand new crew; we had a brand new guy that started that morning, and the last truss they were setting, the roof collapsed. When it collapsed, the brand new guy with four hours ran to the side rather than just staying put, and he fell to his death head first.
And you think of the young family and the devastation that it caused; to me, it's mind-blowing.
So we pulled a bunch of talent, took our equipment out, which was cheap at that point, ropes and some of the most basic of things, went up onto a roof, and started playing with the system to try to figure it out.
It has to start from the top. All failures start from the top, and when you win, it starts from the top because there has to be that guidance. And it took some effort on my part to change my thought process to where...
I think the first thing to do would be to have a meeting of everybody at the upper end of the company and have a handful of serious discussions to make sure they can all get on the same page.
Because if they're not, it's almost impossible to really get it, so you gotta have the culture.
So the equipment is relatively cheap. I look at it; you can put all the equipment on a job at the cost of basically a generator. Now, if you take that cost and, like a generator, it doesn't last just one house, it'll... I have equipment out there that's been out there for six years. The majority of it has survived that long.
Once you know, it can be done, and it works well, and it's safe, and it will save lives, how can you then choose to say, "I'm gonna take the chance, and maybe some will die, but I'm gonna save $200 a house or $300 a house."
How do you put that... What is a life worth versus getting a house built?