Recent reports and accidents have highlighted serious concerns about the state of construction site safety in the Cayman Islands.
This is something that Julius Jacky of Risk Consultancy Services hopes to change. Mr. Jacky is the former safety manager for Dart Enterprises, a position in which he was responsible for the safety of as many as 900 men working on construction sites around Camana Bay in Grand Cayman.
“I know that I steered the ship at Camana Bay in such a manner that we can boast that we had a project that at one time had more than 900 men working at the same time, where no accidents of a significant nature took place. It is a team effort, and by no means can I take the glory for myself, but leadership is important,” he said.
However, Mr. Jacky said he always found it perturbing to see the discrepancy between the strict standards maintained on the sites he managed and some of the other construction sites in Grand Cayman.
“I found it difficult to have one area of the island trying to maintain this high standard, but yet when you drive through other areas you wonder if we have a standard,” Mr. Jacky said.
The Office of the Complaints Commissioner recently released a damning report on the state of construction site safety, which was further underscored by an accident on 29 July in which a manlift fell over and a worker was critically injured.
“We have a law in the Cayman Islands that governs safety and health and if that law is not taught, if we do not educate the populace, we are going to find that it is only a matter of time before we have another accident.”
However, with a lack of institutions focussed on educating equipment operators and site managers on the intricacies of construction site safety, he saw an opening for a company specialising in providing that training.
“I identified a need in the Cayman Islands to certify, to train and to issue certification for individuals and for companies. If managers of companies want their sites to be assessed we can assess and audit and make recommendations on how to improve the safety standard within their area. Likewise we can come in and do accident investigation,” Mr. Jacky said.
He said that the vision of the company is to educate and train people in the field of safety and health, with a particular aim of involving young Caymanians in the field.
“It is a vast field, and a field that a lot of people do not know much about,” Mr. Jacky said.
Although the company offers training for prospective safety managers, it also presents more focussed, practical course in order to educate scaffold builders and equipment operators on correct procedure.
“We do things like rigging and lifting, how to operate cranes, how to give crane signals.
Rigging and lifting is probably one of the most dangerous things on the island.
We also offer crane inspection and crane certification,” Mr. Jacky said.
Although some may argue that sending operators on a course cuts into time on site, the advantages of accident avoidance far outweighs the potential drawbacks, Mr. Jacky said.
“If you have an accident it means loss of money. It cuts into your profit because in any accident there are direct and indirect costs, from time lost on site to lawsuits and it takes you into a whole mess that you do not want to get into,” he said.
Most of the courses are examinable, with many courses encompassing theoretical and practical components, with certification lasting between two and three years depending on the course.
“The industry is constantly changing, so you have to keep up to date with developments,” Mr. Jacky said.
Recent courses included rigging and lifting as well as a forklift and manlift safety training course.
His primary aim with the company is to create an environment in which all construction sites are being operated safely.
“When we have foreign constructors coming in they will have to meet our safety standards, not we meet their safety standards – you’ve got to conform to what we know and what we teach and what is on the ground,” he said.