ABOUT THIS EPISODE
The key to making safety a priority is having a top-down approach. When field crews see that all company representatives - from the CEO to the supervisors - are adopting a culture of safety, they will feel more accountable to perform safely.
- Safety needs buy-in at every level
- What committing to safety looks like
- The importance of holding people accountable
Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for The Safety Management Show in your favorite podcast player.
Episode 7 · 1 year ago
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Episode 7 · 1 year ago
Why Getting Safety Buy-In From All Levels Is So Important w/ Jeff Larson
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
The key to making safety a priority is having a top-down approach. When field crews see that all company representatives - from the CEO to the supervisors - are adopting a culture of safety, they will feel more accountable to perform safely.
- Safety needs buy-in at every level
- What committing to safety looks like
- The importance of holding people accountable
Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for The Safety Management Show in your favorite podcast player.
You're listening to the Safety Management Show, where safety professional share engaging stories about their time in the trenches and the hard earned lessons they've learned along the way. Let's dig in. Hi, this is Jacqueline with the safety management show. Today my guest is Jeff Larson. He is the director of health and safety over at electric conduit construction and we are so pleased to have them today. Welcome Jeff. Hi Jackie. How are you? I'm good. I'm good. So you know just a little bit about what you guys do? So you are in the wireless in a fiber optic area. Is that correct? That's correct. Yeah, where are u? Tody contractor. We install fiber optic cable and do a little bit of electrical work as well. Very cool, very cool. So a couple of things that I kind of wanted to go over with you a little bit. You know, I noticed that you went to Northern Illinois University, so go huskies for you guys. Absolutely, and you know you've been in the industry for ten years, so you know you're a little bit fresher in the industry and I like that more young people are turning to safety as a career. I'm trying to starting to see it more and more in a lot of the schools are now offering. Most universities, local universities, are offering courses in, you know, environmental health and safety or Osha classes. I know here at Afu we have the Irish School of Engineering and they offer Osha courses. I myself was lucky enough to go and it's a really cool program so super excited about that. You know, what made you decide to choose a career in safety? So my you know, it was actually interesting. My career path took me this direction because I went to school for corporate and organizational communication, so nothing safety related at all. I kind of fell into the position. You know, I came to the company I was working as a laborer in the field for a couple of years just to pay off, you know, student loans and all that, and then they knew I had a degree and I was educated and capable. So they offered me a job in safety and gladly accepted winter who were right on the verge of another cold winter and I didn't want to be working outside as much as you know, as much as the pay was nice, but yeah, so I got into safety and took a kind of a unique route to get here, but I took it and ran with it and I'm I'm loved. I love it, I'm passionate about it and it's been a great opportunity to this point. CANTACTIC, it's great to see that you're so passionate about it and you have an interesting, few interesting things in your background right. So you're a very force, a certified evaluator. I deal a lot with prequeplication account so I'm super familiar with that. But you know, for folks say they don't have that knowledge. What was that like? That was a good opportunity the company had. So I started off in the oil and gas field and they were in need of a trainer or an evaluator for verir force, so they sent me to take the class and become certified. And so now, yeah, I was. I've been able to evaluate people now for quite a while. So I've had that sort of action probably eight or nine years now and don't need it so much on the utility side that I'm on now, but with the oil gas side, I definitely utilize it often with with all of our employees, just depending on what customer we were working for we had different requirements for what Oakey's and all that were required. Nice, Nice, and then I also notice the other thing that you're in inspect for soil erosion and sediment control, being that you're doing some utility work now it. Does that play a big role in at when it comes to your proofs? Yeah, it does, and I mean more and more customers are going that direction where they're more environmentally conscious and asking us to, you know, perform work with environmental expectations in place where we're, you know, having to filter bags and everything before we just dump in a sewer drain or anything like that. So it's definitely something that's helped me and and more so. You know, when oil and gas side, we had jobs that were, you know, kind of in wetlands and other areas, and the work we're doing now is primarily in the city, but still definitely a concern and we and we definitely take take care and want to protect the environment and have as little impact as we can on on the environment as we do our work. So awesome, awesome. It's great that you know, you can incorporate, you know, the environment and Keb, it's safe, into your program so Kudo. See you guys for that. Just a quick question. What is one? You know, your uppercoming up and coomer in safety, right, which I love and I want to get your take on and believe that you found that people hold in safety that you would disagree with. So I would say, you know, the accountability factor, the you know, having having buy in from every level of management. So you know, there's a perception some places and at at the company that I was with previous, that's you know, safety is the responsibility of the safety coordinator, Safety Director, Safety Department. They're the ones that are holding the employees accountable for safety and that's it. I think it's important to take the approach. You know, it has to have buy in at every level or the culture is going to fail. Right if the first line supervisor for those employees isn't, you know, ...
...as engaged as every other, you know, level of management, it's not that the employees won't feel the accountability and they're not going to perform safely as they could had they, you know, been held accountable, you know, for the duration of their their career at the company. So I definitely think it's important to to have the top down approach where you know, use the ownership has to buy in, they have to they have to live it, they have to be ready to spend money on it. You know, there's there's safety's expensive, right. So a lot of these a lot of smaller companies that are upandcoming may have a harder time to develop that culture early on because it's financially, you know, constraint on them. So I think it's good to have commitment from every level and I think it's important that each level of management is, you know, I just is preaching it, living it, breathing it and leading by example with safety, for sure. Yeah, and that's one of the interesting things that you know, you told me previously about your company, right, that the owners really are invested when it comes to the safety culture and incident management when something does happen. Yeah, we yeah, we always said, you know, we have to respond a safety personnel in our department. We are the ones that typically respond to an incident. If we do have an incident, and we you know, and we have this you know, we usually have a follow up with the crew, bring them in, we do a root cause analysis and then usually, you know, if it's something that's worth sharing with other crews and kind of getting the message out to all, to everybody else because, if you know, we want to prevent it from happening again, write a reoccurrence. But we have safety stand down. Will bring everybody in. We'll kind of talk to him and go through, you know, go through the incident and, you know, any findings that we had, anything that could be learned from it so it doesn't happen again in the future. We want to share that message with everybody so that they can all take that with them and apply it to their own work that they're doing. That's we inntastic. You hear about companies doing stand downs, but it's usually when it's an official safety week on something. You know, we recently had stand down for fall pro a couple months ago, which was kind of interesting because I just finished my fall pro class, so I was all about that and you know, you know I promoted that a lot. So it was it was really cool just to see the people that a body in on that from different industries. Yeah, because it really is. It's something that happens everywhere and when the companies do the sandowns and really take a stance on yeah, area. So we actually, yeah, we bring out. We try to find a different relevant topic. Each month we have a full all every employee we have at the company comes in. We have a safety stand out where we bring them all in and and usually review an important relevant safety topic, just depending. And then, obviously after an incident, you know, we want to have that follow up to so they're periodic and then they're after an incident. We also bring everybody in and we want to and talk to him and address the crew. So and again that goes back to ownership and and their commitment to it right, because that it cuts into production. You bring everybody in for an hour, the whole companies, you know, standing here and and on the clock and they're being paid but they're not being productive. There's no for a contractor company. These guys are are what the company needs to to be able to be profitable. Write them, them performing the work. So for them to take that time and allow for it to shutdown and take a second and get in front of everybody and kind of address the cruise is is great and much appreciated from my end. For sure, absolutely I can see where it would be in so many companies. You know, I find when when we discuss you know, they're whatever they're doing, for a training program for example. You know why I get to pull my guys off the field and you know, it cuts into product production, like you said, and I think there needs to be more of a mirror. But when it comes to production and in safety working together, you know, agreed. Yeah, we had kind of talked about that, you know, giving safety and production equal weight. And how do you get there? You know, when you have you know, we call him superintendance. They're like general foreman who are in charge of the crews. And how do you get them to they're their production driven right there. Their mindset is always production. They want it, they want to make come the company money and then perform, and they're not doing that if they're taking time for safety. And usually with most companies, and from what I've heard and seen, you know, when when you start pushing guys, the first thing to go, the first easiest corner to cut, is usually safety, right and that's usually the first thing to go. So to get to get guys in the mindset of not allowing that to happen, and what kind of meant what? You know, you got to be really careful with your message to the crews to that's that's another big thing. Like if a guy hears you say, Hey, I don't care what you do, just get this job done. It's got to get done. You know, you may not mean cut corners, do it unsafely, but as the crew, the guy, the foreman who's receiving the message, he may hear like by any means necessary, I just got to do it and he gets you know that that's has a psychological effect on a guy. So to get guys kind of away from that and and just to be careful with their messaging. And obviously,...
...you know, we never want to sacrifice safety because you get somebody hurt or there's we have a major utility hit or an incident. You know, all the profits that we just had for the last two weeks wiped out right. They're all going on. So I think, you know, to get to get people to see the value and safety is is really important and definitely a hurdle for some people. Absolutely and you know, one of the things I found interesting in our last conversation. You know, we talked a little bit about something that, you know, more people are trying to do when it comes to safety, and you mentioned kind of trying to have a safety effect, you know, the pay skill or the bonus structure when it comes to polite completing a project. You know, I really like to take on that and I think our listeners would like to hear a little bit about it. So, yeah, just it was. It's an idea we're throwing around. We're trying to figure out a way, you know, some sort of mechanism to track production and safety equally. And right now in and most companies, and what I've seen in my experiences that it's just production driven right the safety. You Hope, you hope the safety results are there, because you need them to, you know, for a lot of these custom the new customers that have safety requirements for Emar and and incident rates and things like that. So you have to have a safety performance. But really it's the bottom line that that most people are focused on right so to try to find a way to integrate those and make it relevant, you know, to to the superintendents who are directing the work and controlling the work. A you know, if you have a job, you know you got six jobs done and you made all this money. Great, but here we had two incidents that cost us a hundred grand on the back end of it and now that's that's sunk cost that you can't you can't recover. So try to find a way to to make it impactful and I think, you know, money is a motivator, so to try to find a way to integrate that into the bonus structure, like you said, I think is a great idea and theory. It's just it's hard to get there. You know, it's hard to figure because, and you know, we we also try to incorporate auditing to we've talked about like how well are your cruise performing? Are you checking up on them? Are you, you know, to make that a meaningful sight, visit and perform an audit and and are the results there? Or are they falling short as their equipment out of date? Are they're dangerous on safe tools on their trucks, like things like that too. So it's really good in theory. I like the idea a lot. We're just we're still trying to get there ourselves. So yeah, definitely a great concept. I really like the idea and you know, that kind of leads me to you know, we had also talked about things that people should stop doing when it comes to safety, right. And you know, one of the things that you mentioned was that we need to not assume that our employees know what safe just because they take the training. So what does that look like in your company? So I think just just to follow up, you know, and making sure that a crew understands their actual hazards that they're facing, right, because complacency, we all know, in the industry complacency is is a huge, huge problem. Right. So I think, you know that the more we can get away from from a you know, just we think we train this guy, he's got the knowledge, we did the classroom training, he should be able to go to the field and perform his work. You know, we're a union company, so they do union halls, have their training centers and all that. And and we assume competence. And if a guy's competent in the classroom, okay, he's going to go out there and be able to perform his job. He understands what he's doing, he knows. But that may not be the case, right. So there has to be some follow up and we have to, you know, challenge ourselves and whether that be, you know, job shadowing or something like that, where it's where given the guy a chance and kind of figuring him out and let him figure out the company's expectations, because in my you know, from what I've seen, every company does have slightly, you know, very ancious, light variations of safety expectations. Right. So you may have done it differently and especially being a union company, we have a lot of turnover. So there's people that come in with with companies that had no safety program whatsoever. You know, they know how to do the work, they've done it for years, they get it, but they don't necessarily they've never looked at it from a safety Lens, you know. And and I think getting them, getting him to cross that bridge is is challenging sometimes with some guys. And some guys are, you know, easily adaptable and figure it out quick, but it's definitely definitely a challenge, I think for us too. Yeah, I find, you know, a lot of hopes have that issue when it comes to you just, you know, making sure they employees understand and can utilize what they've learned, right, you know. But I know in my experience I found that, you know, close to eighty percent of the ocean by Alesions have him within a discussion with an employee regarding safety and and so I think that's another area that companies need to really brooch and, you know, get with their employees a little bit more about how, you know, see if you really works when you're in the field as opposed to in a classroom. Hundred percent. Yeah, so I think that, you know, one thing we've tried to do. We've we've done this. We have an eight hundred fifteen daily...
...safety call, so every crew calls in every single day. You know, we talked about a safety topic. So we do the monthly stand out, obviously, where we have a big focus right for that month. We're kind of laying things out and we're getting in front of him, but then we have a daily call and it's five minutes, you know, just to kind of keep it refresh, keep it fresh in their mind, get him thinking and try to avoid some of that complacency that you know inevitably sets in with a guy that's done this work for twenty years and you know he may, I hope. What I always tell them is, you know, you may not even know you're doing it wrong, but and you made doubt it. You may have gotten away with it a thousand times, but it only takes one time to do it the wrong way and for it to have a extreme negative consequence. So, you know, you really do have to focus on all the little things. Yeah, absolutely, and I find that a lot of people, you know, Oh, it takes that extra step and it's a pain. And you know, in the understanding that as safety professionals we want to make home, make sure that everybody goes home at the end of the day with all their fingers and toes in as a whole person. They have families, you know, and so I'm finding a few companies are leading more towards the effect of, you know, hey, you get hurt, you're going to lose pay, you your family is going to be jeopardized, maybe you can't play with your kids anymore. You know, in really focusing on the extenuating circumstances when it comes to a workplace injury or a fatality, you know, worse, getting a real right. I mean that's that's that usually brings it home for people. So which we are definitely in line with that. We we focus on that a lot, you know, and we try to get the message across. So, you know, we want active caring in the field right so we try to get our employees to, you know, watch out for each other, care about each other. Right, if you see somebody doing something unsafe or or you know they're doing it wrong, you know, say something right, speak up it. And it's not easy, right. Some people have a different you know, different comfort levels saying things to their peers. But it you know, to get them to care about each other and and to make it meaningful. And I think that's that's the culture we're trying to create so that it's easier, you know, when you when you care about somebody, to say hey, man, I don't want you to get hurt, I don't want you to do it that way. You know you're going to hurt yourself, you're going to get killed, whatever. We got to focus on that and and I think we get there just trying to push guys to you know, these guys work with each other every day, right, you work with somebody every day for a couple of years, you become friends. You know, you see him on so social media, you know what their families look like. So it kind of starts hitting home with these guys and they start realizing, Oh yeah, you know something I always try to focus on is like you know, you guys, it's dangerous what we do every day. There's something, there's always something that can can bite you and you know you really do have to get the you know, focus on the little things. You know, make us safety a priority every day. Get Your JSA build out, you know, walk the job. So I look for hidden hazards like these things. I'll have a purpose. We're not just telling you to do it, you know, just to fulfill a requirement or check a check box. It's literally employs to protect you, you know, from from these hazards and potentially, you know, an incident or an injury that could be significant to your life. So yeah, definitely want to focus and kind of change the focus from we're we're walking through, we're doing an audit, we're checking all the boxes. You know, it's check box safety culture. Is is is no good. I that's one of the that's one of my pet peeves, is the check box safety culture where everything is just meeting a requirement. Okay, we did this, okay, we did this, let's move on, you know, back to the production and I think guys lose focus of what's really important at that point. Yeah, and you know, interesting with the with the check boxes scenario right. I know we recently also talked about, you know, different resources and tools that companies can now use it to kind of bring along safety and Umns to like SMS, tracking training type of thing. Are you implementing any of that right now or plant in the future? Yes, we just implemented last year. HCSS is the name of the software and IT's basically a safety management software system that tracks. We do everything basically in there. So all of our toolbox talks are training. We any training certifications that a guy comes with, you know, when he starts starts working for the company. It's all tracked there. We do our jsays on the system. What else does it do? It does it does literally everything. So it's been great. You know, it took some time and kind of getting it built up on the front end, but it's now that it's kind of running smoothly. You know, we're just working out little cakes here and there, but it's it's been a big success. So definitely a big fan of that. Absolutely. And and you know you had mentioned about how you're able to kind of track what happens. You know, is a they're more injuries when it's cold and or in the summer right getting the data out of it. That's that's a huge thing for me. Is is not I know how to direct my safety communications based on, you know, the trends that I'm seeing. We...
...got, you know, I don't give you any kind of graph. You want it all. You allow you to manipulate the data anyway you want to. So I think that's a that's a huge help because usually there is, you know, you see there's there's a usually a point where there's factors that are are making a bigger impact. So time of day or something of the things of that nature. The day after return to work from a holiday, you know, we do see an uptake, a incidence and some of those areo. So definitely good to to get out in front of it and kind of use that data to help us, help us direct our communications, for sure. Yeah, it's interesting that you mentioned, you know, return to work after a holiday. You know, we've got fourth of July coming up a it's the middle of summer, you know. As you know, I'm in Arizona, so it's a hundred plus degrees way plus, you know, and it's warmer in other areas of the country to right now. And so, you know, I think that what people do on their downtime over a long weekend it kind of changes from a regular weekend. But do you think that has to do with some of the incidents that you're finding? Yeah, for sure. So, yeah, we always try to have a safety stand down on a return to work after a holiday because, you know, if it's a four or five day weekend or whatever, it's definitely you know, most people are having drinks or, you know, just sitting around, laying around there there. It's their off time. So totally understandable, but you know, it's you we always try to start the day with a good stretch, you know, we've when we have our stand out and bring everybody back in, just like try to get them refocus. We stretch out, we get loosened back up to, you know, try to avoid as soft tissue injuries that may that may bite us. And then that day seems to be, you know, a great opportunity for a soft tissue injury if you've been sitting around and things are kind of tightening up on you. So yeah, I definitely agree with that approach. Interesting that you mentioned, you know, the stretching and and soft tissue. So most of Phoenix is the roads are all we always under construction here. I don't know if it's like that. Oh Yeah, you know, it all Kinda where you are, but I don't care whether I'm going down it's under construction. And when I'm on my way in in the morning I see one of our utility crews, you know, and there are a major national contractor and I see the crew on the side of the road and it's like thirty five o'clock in the morning and these guys are out there doing stretches on the side of the road, which I just think is is really neat. You know, is it something that you guys do on a regular basis or is it just like stand down holiday alignment? Now we do it every morning. Guys that start in our yard, we lead a group stretch and then everybody that starts on a job side or whatever that they're expected to stretch as well. That's part of the part of the daily safety obligations that they have for us. So yeah, that's definitely something we focused on and we did have. We did have kind of an uptick and soft tissue injurs a few years ago and this is why, you know, this is kind of what necessitated us to implement the stretching and try to do as much as we can on the front end to start reversing that negative trend we were seeing. Yeah, definitely. You know, I just recently finished one of my oster's certifications and we had a hole, I think it was like ten days on Ergonomic and I didn't even I didn't have a clue. You know. I mean you stretch before you either you go work out or, you know, if you dancewer whatever. You know, I remember as a kid doing softball and gymnastics in all this other stuff, and you stretch before you do those things, but you don't really think about you know, you know, stretching before you go to work, because you might turn the wrong way and be stiff. So yeah, I think it's really great that you guys are incorporating that. Yeah, the other the other thing we did to address that we actually brought on a it's like a he's a he's a doctor, he's like a chiropractic physician, and he does work. He comes into the yard on Tuesday mornings and he will work on any of our guys, adjust them, stretch him out. Whatever they need when, and he has like a total wellness program associated with his business too. So, you know, testosterone replacement and other things. Is the aging workforce. You know, they becomes a problem as they get older. You know he helps address that with them too and tries to keep him as as healthy and limbers they we can as a into their older age and of their careers. So it's it's been. It's been really good. It's been in big success. Everybody likes him. There's a little hesitancy at first. Yeah, he come. It's actually a pretty cool he's got a mobile physical therapy like office that he drives in a in like a party bus. So wow, he's got all his equipment in the bus. It's all hooked up and then guys go in and get treatment and you know there are a little apprehensive at first, but now, if that he's been here for a couple years, it's it's been a big success and we've definitely seen a reversal and our soft issue injury. So the goal, I would say day it has been achieved so far. So definitely good. Nice, nice, that's really cool area that you know you incorporated in your safety culture and you know and I say that...
...because really your company, you know, you've been really part of implementing a lot of it, is that it is a culture. It's not a program it's not you know, hey, we're going to do these little toolbox talks and we're going to do, you know, quick training. It's really a way of life for your company. Yes, and and I really just think that that's the way that companies need to move going forward. Yeah, it's got to be a commitment and it is. It's a finance even that. You know, that's a that's a cost to the company and we provide that as a service to our employees to keep them healthy, you know, and it's ultimately to benefit them and their life and and keep them healthy and going until they're until their later years. So definitely, definitely takes a commitment from from the from the owners, for management, from every level. So it's good to see. It's deaf. It's easy. You know, I do feel like sorry for people that have a company that's just kind of having a safety program developing in its infancy stages because this kind of thing isn't available, you know, and for a larger company that has, you know, big revenue and everything else that it's a lot easier for them to implement this than it is for an upandcoming company that's just trying to get started. So definitely appreciate. You know where I'm at right now, for sure. Yeah, and it's so the difference in you know, like you said, some of the smaller companies, you know, some are very hyper focused when it comes to safety. You know, I'm going to follow this and I you know, this is what I need to have. I need to have everything that I need and they need to make sure my guys are trained and and then, you know, you have other companies that are just like you know, I got to get it done. I don't worry so much about that. You know, Ocean's never come out to my job. So I well, you know, the new administration just hired like a thousand new ocean inspectors. Yeah, they're coming for you exactly. Yeah, it's interesting, you know, and I think that that's kind of you know, another interesting thing is how the different administrations are make changes or don't make changes to, you know, when it comes to Osha and safety. So, you know, I think it's kind of just neat that this administration is focusing on that? Yeah, for sure, the last one didn't. So, you know, it kind of it has its difference. You know, everybody has a difference of opinion on it, but it was just, you know, striking to me. Yeah, it's it seemed like it was, you know, focus more on the you know, worker safety in relation to the pandemic, right, like that was kind of their their emphasis at first was like we have to protect the workers. You know, people are taking advantage and abusing the workforce and working through a pandemic. So I think that was it could also be a big revenue generator, right, if we're being and being realistic about it, it we having more people in the field, you're probably going to find more things and have more, you know, revenue generated from ocean fines and things of that nature. So definitely a definitely interesting it will be interesting next couple years see how it goes. Yeah, it'll be different to see. And you know, one of the things that I think is interesting and that we touched on is, you know, you do some of your work in the suburbs, but then now you now you most of your work has focused to the city and inner city. What types of hazards do you find that are like different between the two areas. What difference is are you finding in terms of CEP? So I guess working first off, working in the city, you know, and we transition from primarily suburb work and we were actually building cell towers and things like that, you know, probably seven or eight years ago, and then we've transition. Now we it's primarily underground now. We also do you know, we have a division that hangs equipment on small cell polls. But, you know, working in the city and obviously has a very unique set of challenges. So just depending on the neighborhood, you know, traffic and pedestrians across the board, anywhere you're at in the city. That's our biggest that's our biggest concern, that's our biggest problem and challenge, I would say, on a daily basis. So we always, you know, we'd give guys tons of stuff to protect themselves. Right all the traffic control. We have cones and combar set up. We want them to set up a whole perimeter on the job side because we've had I can't tell you how many times we've had people drive, you know, if we just have cones up and most people see cones are I go okay, shouldn't go that way, but not that's not the case. Not Everybody thinks that way, unfortunately. So we've had many people pull into a trench that we just dug and, you know, roll their car into a trench. We've had people ride their bikes, you know, and end up in our concrete, you know, wet concrete that we just poured and things like that. So it's constant. It's always something. And then obviously the depending on the neighborhood and Chicago there's there's some nice areas and there's some really rough areas with high crime. So, you know, theft and protecting our equipment and assets and then obviously empowering employees to you know, protect themselves and get out of the area if they feel unsafe in any way. So that that's been a big, a big push for us as well. You know, thankfully we haven't...
...had any you know, anybody robbed a gun point or anything like that, but we've heard plenty of times or other contractors have had that happened. So we always try to share that message and just, you know, situational awareness for our guys is is very important, especially in some of the tougher neighborhood. So and then, you know, the suburbs. Everybody likes to go to the suburbs because it's quiet and it's nice and it's not the hustle and bust so the city. So most of our crews prefer, you know, prefer that. But but that definitely has challenges to so, you know, being an underground contractor when you're in the suburbs, usually we're trying to find space for utility. You know, there's a very small right away and usually in the parkway or wherever we're in front of there's there's you know, water gas who are bought. You know, it's chuck full of paint. So we have a hard time finding, you know, a way to to safely install our pipe, I would say, and Fed some we've had a couple utility it's directional grilling that we're very costly. So it was definitely a lesson learned for us and we had to figure out some policies and procedures and do a complete review and kind of overhaulever utility damage prevention program but when you're in the city, you know, usually we're saw cutting and it's harder to dig in the city because there's it's all concrete, right, so we're not we're not really installing pipe and a grassy parkway like we are in the suburb. So definitely more of a challenge just a avoiding utility hits in the BURBS. Definitely. You know, I lived in the suburbs before and you know you see the flags all over everybody's the little flags all over everybod these frontline you know, and you know, I think it's interesting and I'm sure that your focus when it comes to safety is a little bit different between the two areas. Like you said, you're doing more digging in the suburb areas then you are in the city, because in the city a lot of that groundwork is already laid for you, so you're just going in and doing some working. Do you find you do more like the trenching digging a type of safety training for the suburbs and like more confined space for city? What does that look like? Oh, yeah, so, yeah, I mean we enter manholes. That's usually where like our our job are the pipe determine nate's into a manhole generally. So yeah, we have a man whole entry program. That's really the really the only confined space that we are ever exposed to is through manhole entry. So we definitely have that as a big focus for for all of our guys, and everybody's cross trained. So it's not really, you know, we train one more than the other. Any underground crew gets training on utility damage prevention program you know why it's important. We've seen we've seen gas hits in the city of Chicago that have, like it, led to exploding houses and buildings and things like that. So it's definitely you know, you show a couple videos and add you know, it's the while factor there. I call we crap. This is why we why we need to, you know, protect these utilities, because it's dangerous not only to company finances, but it's also dangerous to, you know, public and everybody else in the area. So yeah, definitely try to make the effort to to train everybody. You know, cross train everybody and have crews that are versatile and can do either one nice nice. That's that's a really great concept to have where everybody, you know, kind of has an idea of the different hazards, no matter where they are, you know, and one of the things that we touched on last time was, you know, a recent thing that your company is tried that you were kind of surprised on the results in you know, you had mentioned that. For you it's your safety committee and I like your inclusive approach that your company has. So tell us a little bit more about that. Yeah, so we started up a safety committee. Basically, this is probably two years ago. We started doing it and then with the pandemic we kind of it went by the wayside, but we started to back up again and thankfully excited about that. But we had some you know, different each different workgroup had an employee representative at the Safety Committee and then we had a project manager and a superintendent, and we basically want to allow everybody, you know, anybody that has a position at the company, to have an opportunity to say their piece at the safety committee, and that kind of helped, you know, I think it kind of helped open up the lines of communication, because there's been historically, there's been a disconnect, I think, with you know, pms and guys that are actually performed the work in the field. PM's in the office, he's looking at his, you know, kmz overhead files to you know, he's not actually on the job seeing all the different things that a crew may run in through throughout their day, but he's just looking at the production that's coming in and maybe there's a disconnect there. So having that opportunity for everybody to get together and kind of talk through and discuss some of the things, I think has been has been a nice thing for us for sure. Yeah, and you know it's cool that you involved different Aerias of the company right a different apartments, I knew, you know, and it goes across the board for you guys. Did you find that there's a particular department that was interested in safety that you didn't expect? Yeah, you know, the actually we had. So we have mechanics working in our in our yard, and I was just, you know, usually, I don't know, I guess just it's reputation. Some people are have a reputation of like, oh, these guys don't care about safety.
Their attitude is just, you know, you get a vibe from somebody. But then I, you know, welcome this mechanic from our from our shop, into our safety committee and he came with a whole list of things that that he had to bring up and all the things that he saw in the yard that was going rought like all these safety issues that he had identified in the yard that were, you know, that needed to be corrected. So definitely definitely kind of surprise me and it was nice to see that he actually, you know, took it very seriously and had some really good input and feedback for so that was that was cool. Very Neat, very neat. You know, I hear more with different and I speak to you people throughout all different industries. So I do a lot in energy and oil and gas and construction, and it's funny. So my roommate just got a job with, you know, a huge American manufacturing company that happens to have a planet here in Phoenix, and one of the things that they asked her was, do you want to be part of our emergency response team? And she was like, well, you just like you just tired me. I don't you know. And so I think it's interesting that that larger companies are starting to, you know, have these emergency response teams and cert teams and, you know, different things in place. Do you have one as well? That differs from Your Safety Committee? Not An emergency response team per se, but let mean, we do train all of our people and CPR first aid. We talked about situational issues like that where you know you may have to respond and if you're if you're trained, we expect that you're able to perform you know and perform a rescue if need be. We do some additional rescue training for man whole entry as well. You know what the Fire Department is. Basically they come in and they'll throw all of our equipment out of the way and if they have a guy that's asphyxiated or whatever in the mantle, they bring their own stuff in and perform the rescue. So just getting guys kind of comfortable and and in that mindset where they're thinking about it, I think is is a really good thing and has value just so that they're not, you know what, if the time comes in the situation rises, they're not completely blindsided and panicking and all that that. You know, if you're thinking about it ahead of time and you're kind of getting the gears are the gears are turning in your head about it, you know usually, if, if, if you're faced with that situation, your response is going to be much better. Nice. What do you think? Is it but theory or maybe a technique that other safety professionals should start to include in their program I mean I think, like we had kind of mentioned earlier, that the Checkbox, you know, having having the audit as your guide and in the perception that that can kind of create in the field. To get away from that, I think, is a big thing because usually, you know some people, when I come out to a job site, I don't want guys to be like, Oh crap, the safety guys here are, you know, I don't want them to have that attitude. I want them to be like, Oh, okay, maybe he's going to give me feedback and identify something that I'm missing. You know, it's just another set of eyes, it's a it's a helping hand more than anything. It's not somebody that's out there trying to catch you and, Oh, you know, you're going home, you're doing this, I'm going to write you up like that. That that is that's destined for failure, I think. And there's still as some of that, you know, and safety, and I think that that's something that we really need to get away from, for sure. Yeah, absolutely, I hear that a lot. You know, that the safety guys the bad guy, and it really shouldn't be that way, because it's more that you have everyone's in best interests, right. You know, at Hart want to be an ally, I want to help. I want to provide feedback of a second set of eyes and give you know, what I see from a safety standpoint, because my viewpoint is different from from the guy who's doing the work. Right, I'm I want to help him. I'm here is a support position more than anything. I that's that's how I feel about it. Yeah, and and I like that take on things. Have you found that? You know, I know you were in the field for a while and that's where you started and you kind of safety, kind of fell into safety, so speak, and I find a lot of people that happens to you know, every day I'll speak to at least one person. You know, I'm new to safety. They just they just threw this at me. I don't know. Is there a process or a way of thinking that you feel like people who are new to safety could take advantage of? Yeah, I think you know, have it. You have to have accountability, right. There has to be employee accountability and in our job is safety professionals. That's a big component of it. Right. You have to hold people accountable. They have to they have to follow the program of the protocol and it has to be something in place to, you know, identify short falls and things that guys aren't doing correctly. So just to have I think that active caring goes along way with that. Just make sure you're building a culture and by, you know, making it meaningful to people, they're going to be much more likely to perform safely and and and do better and I think your overall safety performance is going to is going to be much better if people care about what you're doing and find their why right. Why am I doing this? Why? Because if you just ask somebody, Hey, you know put your cones around your truck, that means nothing, right. But if you show them, Hey, you know, somebody backed over a small child and it...
...was you know, there was an incident here and you and you make it meaningful like that's why we do what we do right. That's why we take the action of doing our three hundred and sixty walk around and checking all sides of the vehicle and making sure that there's nothing around. You know, it's just making it it's not just throwing rules at people, it's taking it the next step and telling them why, why this isn't place, why we're doing it this way. That has, I mean that's inevitably going to have a much greater impact on some way. Yeah, absolutely, you know, you need to know. You need to tell them the why that they're doing things. And I know, like one concept we have here at our company is, you know, our leadership team, when they engage with you, always ask you what's your why? You know, and and so I think that's interesting. Do you get involved in that area at all when it comes to, you know, why your people do the type of work that they do? Not sure I understand. What do you what do you mean exactly? So, like our company reaches out to us, you know, pretty often. You know, why do you do it? You Do? Why do you come to work? What's your purpose? You know, and it ranges, you know, from you know, Oh, I want to make sure people get home safe, to I want to pay checked to, you know, I like a limited vacation right. Yeah, now, we definitely do that. That was a big focus. We had our do an annual training where we bring everybody in for a couple days of training and we get everything, all of our you know, annual requirements out of the way, but that was a big focus for us this year was like, you know, find your why? Why are you working safely? Why are you going to perform your safety duties every day? And usually it's, you know, family. I want to go home to my family, I want so just making it relevant in that way. Yeah, that's that's definitely something we did last year in our in our safety stand out and focused on quite a bit. So yeah, definitely. You know the impact that safety can have on a person or an employee and others. Right, so if I don't act safely but you do, well, I affect your way of life. Right, and it comes back to the accountability aspect. Sure, absolutely, and you know, I think that's a big accountability needs to play a bigger role in when it comes to safety and implementing a safety culture. I like that you're young in the safety industry, but you've been here for ten years, so you're not like, you know, fresh off the door, but you know your your I talked to a lot of people that have been in it for, you know, thirty plus years and sure, and you know, so, with a fresh set of eyes like yours, when in safety, you know as an any in area, to take a career and you know, what are you what are you seeing? That could be the future when it comes to safety. I think even in the last ten years, even in my career, there's been a huge shift towards safety right whether that be driven by you know, I frankly I don't know what it's served by. I know for us it was dry. We started to work for both thus in the power company in this area and they demand a lot safety wise and they they have very high expectation safety, environmental, there's there's a lot that they go through and they have a very broad program and I think that that has challenged us as a contractor to raise our game, you know, and to do better, and I think that that's that's had a big, big impact on speaking specifically for my company, that's that's that's been huge for us and helped me kind of get new ideas, see new things, you know, and really challenge me to my game as well. So you know, that shift between the shift from the old days where it was just do whatever it takes. Its construction. We know this is what we do, we cut corners, we do this, and to get that shift to okay, take a step back. You know, what are we actually doing here? Stuff we're doing is so dangerous. You know that were you get you become blind to it over time, right, you get complacent. You don't even realize that. You know, any any of this stuff can be can be very hazard it is very dangerous. To think just and getting guys to kind of take a step back, realize it and take a more proactive approach. For sure Nice. And you know, one of the things that I like that we've talked about a couple times is how your safety, you know, training and talks kind of, you know, your uniform so that everybody has the same information no matter what their job is, but you guys get specific when it comes to training for individual job types, and I think that's really you know, I knew focus that I'm seeing more of journey know, and I'm I would be interested to know, you know, what direction you think that should go in, as opposed to just standard training for everybody. Yeah, I think you know, the training component of it is is huge, of course, and you know, having guys that are trained in in the scope of work that they're going to be performing. I mean you have to have it right you. It's not an option. But and I think that there's you know, for us we have many different work divisions. There's different people that are performing different types of work every day. Some guys are in a bucket truck every day, some guys are underground every day. So I mean...
...there's a disconnect. If you start training the bucket truck guy on on shoring and competent person excavation training and things like, you're going to lose them right. But it's still important that they have it because, you know, if we get slow or there's there's a situation this guy may have to cross you know, Cross train into this and perform a different scope of work. So I think having that cross training is important. But it's also, you know, you got to focus on on the real hazards. What is this Guy Doing? He's probably more concerned about, you know, the guy in the bucket trucks more concerned about entering the minimum approach distance of area electrical lines than he is about, you know, hitting a high voltage cable underground. So definitely having relevant training and making it meaningful and having guys that they're going to they're going to get a lot more out of it. I think absolutely, and I'm finding that a lot of the training is kind of changing a little bit. You know, now a lot of it's more interactive and you know things you know. There's more like you know, you have your system that you know dig your tracking and training and your meetings in all of that for you. So I like the idea that companies are going more, you know, digital when it comes to that. But yet there's some stuff that you really have to focus on your in person, like you mentioned the shoring and, you know, the lifts and and things of that nature. So are you finding that your crews are utilizing digital a little bit more in terms of safety? Yeah, I mean we do. We don't necessarily have a you know, we still do our paper tests and everything at our annual training when we're doing it, but we are, you know, the toolbox talks and all that are all are all digital. They're all on the IPAD now. Everybody's signing off and going through it and there's and there's sometimes quiz or a short, short quiz at the end of it that they'll have to take, but it's I mean I think that. Yeah, no, I don't. I guess we don't really do anything digitally as far as testing or anything like that at this point. So I do think that it is better. I think having that interactive piece of it is good because I can tell you, you know, during our our annual training catch a lot of guys sleeping and are fading or, you know, dozen off, and so I think to have that engagement and a little bit more interaction is definitely keep some keep some away, keeps them on their toes. So one of the things I was at the ASSP Safety Conference in Las Vegas a couple years ago and I took a class on like how to make training more interactive and more exciting for people, and one of the things is just getting up and moving right. That was you keep you can hold your audience a lot longer. When you got sixteen hours, two days straight of nothing but safety training, you're going to you're going to lose people. But the information is so important. You know you want to keep them engaged and keep them entertained as best you can. So so getting up, you know, doing things, walking around, doing just little exercises in between each thing, I think is that is actually, you know, proven to be much, you know, a very nice tool and very helpful. So that's something that we that we've implemented Nice Nice and you know, I recently spoke with I had another guest on that runs a training facility here. You know, just some fall pro in, you know, know, the tower trains, the tower guys and all that kind of stuff in the pandemic really played a role in, you know, how we provide safety training and the different avenues. So and you know he was saying that. You know, he found a lot of people were hesitant to God the zoom rap or the web x route. Were you guys able to Uisee any of that? Was it a resourceful tool for you during the pandemic? So, yeah, we didn't really do much on zoom or anything like that, but we did. It did kind of force us. We didn't have our annual training, we didn't do our normal where we have everybody in. You know, we didn't have safety stand downs, we didn't bring people together. So I think we did focus more on on the toolbox talks and on our daily safety call. We did have, you know, different the toolbox talks we try to make more relevant to each division. So I can part of HCSS. You can actually control which work groups are assigned which toolbox talks, so we sent the toolbox talks that are relevant to them. So instead across training and just giving them all the training and throwing it at him, you know, we took we took a more nuanced approach to it and, you know, made the training obviously, you know, more relevant to what their scope of work is going to be every day. Yeah, absolutely, which is a bummer. I don't like that. I prefer to do it the other way. You know, it stinks because it was I mean it kind of hamstrung us a little bit in terms of the information we could get out to these guys it. But again, it was a challenge and we all had to work through it. So yeah, and you know, I don't know, you know where you guys are at, but I know here in the Phoenix area, like you know, life is kind of bast here. It's great, it's Nice. You know, you can. You know it's they've lifted the mask mandate here and you know there's a few places used to have to wear it, but it's not, you know, like it was your yeah, almost everybody, I know it's vaccinated and you know,...
...we worked here through the pandemic kind of did some some social distancing with our desks and yeah, you know, it kind of made things interesting. How did it affect how closely you know your guys work as you're doing? You're doing some underground stuff, right, so you really couldn't avoid that, right. What safety measures did you guys have in place to kind of work around that, to get you through? Yeah, yeah, I mean we had the mask mandate like everybody else did, and you know, as the social distancing, if they were within six feet, you know, we asked them to mask up and they're of course, was a lot of pushback and you know on that, especially in the summer time when it's hot and you know, nobody wants to wear a mask. So it definitely had a lot of challenges and and so we try to limit guys like that were riding together to job sites and trucks and things like that. We just we try to take as much of the closeness out of it as we could. Know inevitably construction you're going to be within six feet of somebody throughout the day, right, for the most part. So, but we did our best to manage it. I mean we like everybody else, we had our fair share of cases and had had the kind of work through it and you know, we the company actually so we wanted to, you know, we try to encourage Ridge guys to report any potential exposures or anything like that. So I know a lot of a lot of companies didn't like pay their guys or off or any time off or any leave or anything like that. You know, our company thankfully try to protect the employees, try to, you know, keep them from from spreading it. You know, if they did think they had an exposure, we would keep him home with pay and and, you know, and wait for their tests or whatever. But we but we definitely try to take care of them in the meantime and get everybody safe and healthy and back to work. So Nice, Nice. Well, you know, we're almost out of time. What is one thought or idea that you'd like people to remember in terms of in terms of safety, the need for it, the need for safety culture? Yeah, okay, yeah, I got you. So I think the I think, you know, like we said before, I think just having that that top down approach is the key to everything in my opinion. You know, to have buy in at each level and to not make it strictly the responsibility of the safety department to keep everybody safe and if an incident happens, all it's just, you know, let's look at the safety department. Then we get unders we're under scrutiny and and people start pointing fingers. I think to have that buy in at every level is so important and so critical and I know for a fact that the crews in the field they can feel that. They know. You know, they know if they can get away with, you know, not performing up to expectations from a safety standpoint. If they're superintendent comes out and just overlooks everything, you know, that's inevitably going to be something that they remember. It sticks with them and then, you know, God knows, they might skip the same step tomorrow and it may cause an incident. So I think having that approach, having that buy and is is absolutely critical. Awesome. Well, you know, Jeff, it was a pleasure speaking with you again. You know, I really enjoy talking to you. I'm sure that the folks that are listening were able to grab a few things and thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. Thanks. Thank you. Another episode of the Safety Management Show. Everybody, have a great day and be safe in need of a blueprint for workplace safety and compliance. Safety Services Company is North America's leading provider of safety training and compliance solutions. We supply custom safety manuals and policies and onsite and online training solutions that will enhance the safety of your workplace, and our compliance services will save you time and resources, guaranteeing peace of mind. With eighteen years in the industry, we have a proven track record of helping customers achieve better safety outcomes by providing customized solutions that fit the unique needs of each business. To learn more, head to safety services COMPANYCOM. Thanks for listening to the Safety Management Show. To hear more stories from safety leaders, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you enjoyed the show, leave us a rating. Until next time, stay safe.
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