In the construction industry, there’s arguably nothing more important than safety. Our people are highly trained when it comes to operating equipment and accomplishing their tasks in a responsible manner, but safety is one of those areas where no amount of focus could ever be “too much.” While safety has always been a priority for RAWSO, we’ve taken some additional steps recently that have boosted our confidence level higher than ever when it comes to the ability of our employees to do their work in a way that minimizes the danger of their efforts.
The most important aspect of any company’s safety procedures is being proactive, instead of just reacting to things that happen. Even with freak accidents that may seem like they were unavoidable, there’s almost always something that could’ve been done differently that would make the task less risky.
With that in mind, about six months ago, RAWSO started using HCSS Safety, which is an incredibly helpful software program for tracking safety training issues. Before we started using HCSS Safety, we would have one safety meeting every Monday, where we discussed risks for the upcoming week. Now, we have safety meetings every day. Having the software application is so valuable because it helps us to focus in on what we really need to be discussing.
The program generates charts and data that show you how much of the total safety training you do falls into each risk category, which helps us plan meetings according to the specific risks of our daily tasks, as opposed to a blanket safety program that doesn’t address what we’re actually doing day-to-day. The content we use from every one of our daily safety meetings is then stored in a database, where we can track the information by employee. For example, if we want to see what John Smith has been trained on in daily meetings, we can search by his name and pull up every safety meeting he’s ever attended.
Another aspect of our safety program is the way we use mistakes to educate everyone, instead of just the people that were directly involved. When one person has a near-miss, you need to share that with everyone else, or no one gets to learn from the incident. When somebody has an inspection issue ― even if it doesn’t result in an accident, or even a near-miss ― we talk about it with everybody, which helps everyone learn from that one mistake. If you keep everything segregated by individual crews, those lessons go unlearned.
In addition to implementing HCSS Safety, we had one of our employees take on a full-time director of safety position. He reviews all the meetings, and also keeps track of everyone’s certifications and skills. We also hired a third-party company to come in and audit every job site at least once a month. Especially since our man-hours are so much higher than they were a few years ago ― because we employ so many more people ― the odds of an accident happening go way up.
Does adding all these different layers of safety and training increase our costs? Of course it does. Each and every one of these safety programs costs us money to implement. However, we think that giving our employees all of the skills necessary to do their jobs as safely as possible is so valuable that we could never place a dollar value on it. Our people are too important for us to simply be reactionary ― in our minds, being proactive is the only option!