Best Practices: the rewarding road to an effective safety program

– By Greg Blosser, National Frame Building Association Communications Manager – Whether your company is a magnet for worksite accidents or an exemplary beacon of safety excellence, conducting a safety audit is a wise first step in determining where your company currently lies on the safety spectrum. It’s a process that, when conducted well, can consume time and resources but ultimately is rewarding to a committed company.

Washington, Iowa–based Greiner Buildings, Inc., recently conducted a safety audit in an effort to demonstrate its dedication to safety, but employees quickly realized that the process wouldn’t be easy.

“It was a bit stressful at first and a hard sell to my safety personnel,” said Greiner Buildings president, Matt Greiner, “but it ended up being a healthy process that shed some light on items we had never before considered.”

The company’s NFBA membership has proven to be invaluable in this process. After submitting the company’s audit results to NFBA’s Gail Miller Recognition Program for Excellence in Safety for review, Greiner Buildings sent two crew members to the annual Frame Building Expo, where they attended several safety education sessions. While at the Expo—with NFBA’s extensive network of attendees—the crew members discussed their ambitions for their safety program with Mark Benson of Wick Buildings, a company with a stringent safety program of its own.

Benson visited Greiner Buildings to speak to work crews about the importance of having a successful safety program that incentivizes adherence. Around this same time Greiner Buildings received the results from its submission to the Gail Miller safety program.

“Between the items needing change in our current safety program, the information brought back from the safety education sessions at the conference and the meeting with Mark Benson, the enthusiasm went company-wide and helped the crews’ safety awareness go up several notches,” said Kathy Rode, office and human resources manager at Greiner Buildings.

It’s easy for employees to feel overwhelmed by even the prospect of a safety audit, which involves determining what you’re measuring, how you measure it and how to design a program and define employee incentives. And when a company assumes the entire burden alone, the obstacles can seem insurmountable. Seeking counsel from an experienced and engaged peer or colleague may ease these tensions, and having an objective assessment from outside experts, like the one provided by the Gail Miller safety program, is invaluable.

Greiner said that he had many concerns about the difficulty companies have in implementing effective safety programs, but he commends NFBA for forming a “very competent” safety committee and encouraging collaboration throughout the program.

“Greg Lehman, NFBA chair-elect, has championed the position of ‘No secrets, boundaries or proprietary information when it comes to safety,’” said Greiner, “and companies are following through with that position.”

Greiner continued, “We need to be concerned about people’s well-being, period. Though it [the effort put into our safety program] cost us a little bit in the short term, it will have a positive impact on our bottom line over the long term. Beyond eliminating worksite hazards, I think that employees who feel cared for and believe the company has a genuine concern for their safety will be much more productive.”

And with that goal in mind, everyone wins.

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