Safety Sunday: The 3 C’s of Prevention

In many ways, the art or science of building or remodeling ones house is built around one action – Prevention. Prevention is quite simply an action or actions one uses to stop or hinder something from happening.  For one quick example, we flash & detail windows properly to prevent water from entering the structure, which can lead to rot, and possibly getting people sick from mold.

We also have numerous codes and regulations that are based off of past issues, & designed to help prevent newer buildings from suffering from structural collapses, being blown away, or going up in flames. Most of these regulations and codes are designed not to protect the structure per se, but to prevent one from getting sick, injured, or possibly dying. The biggest issue I see is one addressed in most articles on Building Science – how the house is a system, and how each item affects the other. In this article, we are going for the proverbial birds-eye view, while in the next three Safety Sunday articles; we are going to dig into each topic more in depth and focus on how to safely remodel ones home that has lead or other contaminates in it.


To control something, one might think of managing, restraining, or limiting how something happens. For a few quick examples, we control the flow of water, so it does not run towards the structure, but instead it is directed away from it. In multi-family buildings, we control the spread of a fire with special walls that separate not only the units but also common areas like a crawl space or attic.


No matter how well something is controlled, one must plan on water leaking in, a fire spreading, or lead dust getting past the first line of defense. In the case of water, we want to contain it from spreading, and giving it a way back out. In case of a fire, we may try containing it with a sprinkler system or by confining the damage to physical possessions & not people by alerting them to the fire with a smoke detector.


Yes folks, please make the check payable to SLS Constr… To check something means to not only examine something to verify it’s condition, but just like in hockey; to block or impede an action. In the case of water, not all water damage comes from the outside, so if you spot a leak from a bathroom sink, or toilet it would be best to get it cleaned up, but also fixed. While smoke detectors will alert you to a fire, if you do not check to make sure they work & replace the batteries when needed, you may find yourself in checkmate.


Just like the 5 W’s for reporting or investigations (who, what, when, where, why, & “how”) the 3 C’s of prevention have a straggler that sits in the middle, just like “How” does. In this case, it is the word Evaluate, and just like “how” word, it is actually the most important word that happens to be in the bulls-eye spot. All too often, many people concentrate on just one or two of the items and forget the third to their peril.

Tool Box Talk: For this week, I encourage you to evaluate your safety programs (or building practices) & how the 3 C’s apply. Please leave me your thoughts on it, and if this approach make sense, or did I miss the mark? (As a quick FYI, I used the 3 R’s of recycling logo for a reason)

For one quick example: A table saw where we control access around it, how we feed the wood & using the guide to control the wood. We might contain the dust using the guards and / or a dust collection system. As for the check / clean component, we check the settings, clean up the sawdust on the floor, etc…

  • Anonymous

    Great philosophy, Sean. I think that what you refer to as Evaluate is really the thing that ties the other three components together and ensures that they are kept in motion. It’s a reminder to be constantly vigilant, reflective, and proactive in managing the other three. Those my thoughts, anyway. Hope they are helpful.

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