Long gone are the days in which dealer executives would grudgingly devote 30 minutes a month to company safety. Today, not only is workplace safety a serious concern for your employees, it’s a serious concern for your business.

Threats facing companies for an unsafe workplace are massive and seem to escalate daily. These are the type of threats that could lead to serious financial damage to your company, up to and including closure. There’s no doubt about it: A safe workplace must be an integral part of any company’s business plan.

The objective of a great safety plan is the health and safety of your employees. It is not a money-saving scheme. If you try to fake your way through a safety program, you are putting both your employees and your business at risk. No executive ever wants to stand over the casket of an employee who was killed because the company did not take safety seriously.

The threats to your company’s business from fostering an unsafe workplace go beyond potential jumps in your insurance premiums. Other compelling reasons include tougher government inspectors, more demanding insurance carriers, lawyers hungry to file lawsuits, big customers whose contracts put the onus on you, and local fire marshals who enforce regulations down to the smallest detail.

Sometimes it feels like they’re all piling on at a time in which many companies, struggling to survive during the recession, put safety programs on the back burner. It is now critical for executives to refocus their attention on safety.

My company realized that, and here are some actions we took over the last year to invigorate our safety program.

  • We re-implemented the position of safety manager and hired an active-duty firefighter, who receives training.
  • The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program is a voluntary, free Occupational Safety and Health Administration program offered by the University of South Florida that trains companies on how to be a safe workplace. We asked for an inspection and recommendations from our facilitator.
  • We updated and enhanced our company’s safety manuals.
  • We compiled new Material Safety Data Sheets for all locations and trained personnel on how to use them.
  • More thorough safety inspections coupled with a renewed emphasis on informative safety meetings helped refocus our team.
  • Unannounced monthly jobsite inspections of drivers, installers, and roof loaders have proven valuable, especially regarding tying off when our workers go on roofs.
  • We instituted a strict Personal Protective Equipment Program for all employees in the warehouse and production areas. Hard hats, reflective vests, gloves, and eye protection are required in most areas outside the showroom.
  • We implemented a system to ensure that new employees are properly trained and certified on all equipment.
  • Safety is discussed daily in e-mails to our employees, and a safe workplace is discussed at every monthly managers’ meeting.

Some employees will balk at new safety procedures. However, if an executive makes a real risk assessment of an unsafe workplace, a commitment to safety is easy to make. Staying focused on the health and safety of your employees will result in cost savings. More important, it will result in your peace of mind for doing the right thing.
Don Magruder is CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply in Leesburg, Fla., and a former chairman of the Florida Building Material Association. Contact him at don.magruder@romaclumber.com or 352.787.4545.

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