“I have more than twenty years in the safety area,” Gary Porter confides. “In that time, I’ve seen some near misses, some preventable tragedies and some silly situations that have amazed me. Generally, my job has taken me to lots of places and let me meet and work with many interesting and talented people.”
As head of IBT Safety’s consulting and training activities, Porter leads a team with over a century’s worth of experience in all areas of safety.
“Our team has specialists in respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, physiology, industrial hygiene – and many other aspects of safety. Many carry professional certifications.
“We can tailor-make our group to match the safety needs of a specific company – focusing on their people, their risks, their hazards, their industrial challenges and their compliance issues. We will send people with both general and specialized strengths and abilities – and get the job done quickly, efficiently, economically, professionally and effectively. This is something we all take great pride in being able to do.
“On the job safety is a critical area. The downsides are considerable: loss of productivity, OSHA fines, insurance rate increases, worker morale – and,of course and most importantly – the human cost.
“I think that every instance of workplace injury – from the minor to the extremely serious – has a tremendous ripple effect. It starts with the person who is hurt – and extends to their co-workers, the supervisory and management staffs, the families – and ultimately – to the community.
“That is why we are so diligent about training, prevention and compliance. We are working to avert problems that can be tragic and costly.
“There is a certain amount of inherent hazard in every workplace. Manufacturers tend to have even more.
“As safety professionals, we live with the uneasy realization that we are up against the laws of probability. Even where every worker is well-trained, where every OSHA regulation is observed to the letter, where all the machinery is impeccably maintained – and where all the PPE (personal protective equipment) is in place for quick proper use – things sometimes go wrong and people can get hurt.
“Our challenge is to do everything we can to minimize the damage. One of the ways we can do that – after seeing to all the ways of preventing bad things – is to make sure that an equal level of excellence of response is on-tap: emergency procedures for rescue and retrieval, first aid training and equipment, 911 and other emergency service notifications, HazMat containment – all of it.”
Although the job is one that Porter takes very seriously – he does relate some stories about the lighter side of safety.
“I never cease to be amazed at the odd things people can do. Even when we know that people know better, sometimes haste and carelessness combine to remind everybody just how important safety sense can be.
“My favorite tale is one involving a ladder. The guy tried to move the ladder sideways by “rappelling” – to walk it along the wall. He got about five feet that way – then, disaster. His belt loop got caught, he lost control of the ladder and had to grab on to a beam to prevent himself from falling. As the ladder fell away, it took his trousers. So, there he was – fifteen feet in the air, holding on for dear life, yelling his head off for help – and totally de-pantsed.
“He was lucky. His only wound was to his dignity – which, though severe – was a lot better than a major case of broken bones.”