By Dave Sanders, Director of Safety & Risk
The goal of every company, ours included, is to complete quality projects and provide quality service on time and on budget. Working safely, without accident, effectively helps achieve that goal by allowing for a smooth and efficient operation with consistent productivity. Some believe that safety competes with quality, efficiency and productivity. Quite the opposite—any accident disrupts the continuity of our operation and deters us from the end goal. We know our safest crews are also our most efficient, produce the highest quality, and are the most profitable.
Being a safety-minded company, however, doesn’t just happen. Providing a safe environment every day is dependent on everyone in our organization—from our owner and president to the newest employee that just came on board. We can talk safety all we want, but putting it into action is what gets results.
Safety culture is “the way we do things every day.” In other words, doing it the right way, the safe way, must be second nature and not just when someone is watching. Building culture starts with senior management but managers can only set the tone—providing support and direction—and communicate the safety program. The real foundation for the success of our safety program is our front line supervision team–our field managers. Why?
- They are the ones in the field on the jobsite every day
- Their position allows them to observe, analyze, influence, and affect employee behavior
- They directly impact safety daily with every “hurry up” decision
- Good or bad – they build our culture one crew at a time
In effect, field managers dictate the direction of our safety culture, ensuring policies and procedures are followed, personal protective equipment (PPE) is in place, and safe behaviors are practiced. They are the safety managers and the face of our company on every jobsite. The final piece of the puzzle is every employee, working hard every day and taking responsibility for their own safety and that of their co-workers. Safe employees know to:
- Always wear the appropriate PPE: safety glasses, hearing protection, reflective safety vest, hard hat, and seat belts in vehicles and equipment
- Don’t shortcut any task: Always follow safety rules and procedures. They are in place for your protection.
- Stay focused on the task at hand: Distraction increases the risk of injury
- Take any faulty equipment out of service: It’s a hazard and reduces productivity
- Be aware of your surroundings and any obvious hazards
- Always drive cautiously and defensively
- Lookout for co-workers and don’t be afraid to point out unsafe behaviors. You may just prevent an injury.
Remember: All of us doing the right thing, the right way, every day and every time is key to building a great culture of safety and preventing accidents before they happen. All of us working together to achieve this goal will make us a safe and successful company.