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Hey Mr. Building Inspector, Why Won’t You Wear a Hard Hat on My Jobsite?

As a Building Performance Specialist, my fundamental duty is to walk active residential construction sites with builders while evaluating their building practices for potential risk. I point out good practices, and identify opportunities where warranty issues or litigation could result. In a nutshell, I help builders build better homes.

One of the most important things we talk about on site is safety. You’d think that ‘being safe’ would be an easy thing to achieve compliance with among trades and employees, as flying debris, sharp objects, and falls are just a few of the many hazards that present themselves daily. But no, it is not easy. Getting trades and site visitors to practice good, basic safety practices is like squeezing blood from a stone.

One of the most fundamental safety practices is wearing a hard hat. I wear one whenever I am on site, inside or outside, curb to curb. For if I do not wear a hard hat, or the site supervisor does not wear a hard hat, how can we expect the trades to wear a hard hat? Signs are everywhere. Fines are imposed by builders. And most notably, OSHA requires that they be worn. So, I ask you Mr. Building Inspector… Why will you not wear one on the jobsite? Unfortunately, the site supervisor does not complain about this or even politely ask that one be worn, as he or she typically chooses to pay deference and show respect to you since you are in a position of power and have great influence over the critical path of scheduling of the job. But here is the rub that frustrates me as an outsider looking in: Why can’t building inspectors show the same respect to the builder clients and industry that they serve?

Think about the uphill battle that a builder faces in trying to get a trade to wear a hard hat if the site superintendent is not wearing one, or if I did not wear one when fulfilling my duties on site? It is my belief that of all folks on a jobsite that could have a positive impact on promoting a safe practice as simple as wearing a hard hat, a building inspector would garner the most respect and influence in getting the trades to do the same. So how about it Mr. Building Inspector? Help the industry take a big step forward and put that hard hat on! Oh, and while you are at it, kindly remove your muddy shoes before entering the home that you are performing a final inspection on just days before closing. Your cooperation is appreciated more than you know… and who knows, it just might save a life.


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