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One man’s fall protection crusade

It’s “a moral choice”

Jeremy BethancourtIt isn’t often that the results of one’s safety efforts in the workplace are easily measured, but in the case of Jeremy Bethancourt, that measurement is 11. And counting.

Since the Arizona businessman began developing and implementing strengthened fall procedures at Scottsdale, Arizona-based LeBlanc Building Co. in 2006, 11 construction workers employed by LeBlanc have had falls arrested, saving them from likely serious injury or death.

Bethancourt’s efforts were recognized May 6 with the first annual Triangle Award for Heroic Dedication presented by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). (The award is so named because it commemorates the 146 victims of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City.) The awards ceremony occurred at the kick-off event for this year’s North American Occupational Safety and Health Week.

A "continuing journey"

LeBlanc Building Co.’s commitment to a strong safety culture is spelled out on its website:

“The road to a World Class Safety Program is a continuing journey which we will never be finished traveling. We have learned that in order for our program to truly succeed we must never become complacent or believe we are finished. Working safely is a choice and we choose to work safe. 

“We believe one of our most valuable company resources is our employees. For that reason we will continually do all we can to protect their lives as we conduct business.

“In accordance with this culture we will actively seek out relationships with contractors and trade partners who embrace the same safety beliefs as our own.”

Partnerships with government

The site also lists LeBlanc’s safety accomplishments, including:

  • Being the first sub-contractor in Arizona OSHA's 35 year history to ever enter into an official ADOSH Partnership.
  • Being asked by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to offer insight into the industry's best practices and safety procedures.
  • Participation in the OSHA Advisory Committee on Construction Safety & Health (ACCSH) and two different NIOSH studies.
  • Presenting information to the Department of Labor/OSHA on the use of fall protection systems in light commercial and residential like wood frame structures.
  • Owner John LeBlanc being awarded the 2008 "Safety Executive of the Year Award" by the Arizona Chapter of the ASSE for his dedication and efforts to improve worker safety in the construction industry.

Bethancourt has gone on to promote the use of conventional fall protection throughout the construction industry.

When accepting the Triangle Award, he said: "Fall protection is a moral choice" as well as a legal obligation for every employer.

The award presentation was hosted by OSHA at U.S. Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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