No, I'm not asking you to break one of the Ten Commandments. I'm asking you to use the first commandment of risk management: “Thou shall steal great ideas from other lumber dealers, adjust them to fit your location, then call them your own.” The fastest, most effective way to improve your safety bottom line is networking with your peers and using their best practices at your facility.

Most dealers would agree that safety is important, yet they sometimes hold back on new programs because of expense. Safety does have a cost, but the most effective programs require much more than dollars. The price of success in safety demands leadership buy-in, shared responsibility between managers and employees, and a willingness to hold ourselves accountable.

Networking comes in many shapes and sizes. Take advantage of buying share groups, your regional lumber associations, and the resources at NLBMDA. Here in Maine, Hancock Lumber is a member of a self-insured group for workers' comp. We openly share safety success and failures with all 23 members within this Trust. Also, look for safety ideas outside of our industry. Whatever issue you have, find someone who handles it better than you do.

Finally, utilize partnerships to improve safety for both parties. NLBMDA formed an alliance with OSHA in July 2003 for just this purpose. We have gained a tremendous resource for safety information and training, and OSHA is gaining an understanding of the specific issues that challenge our industry. Investigate the OSHA resources available in your state.

It's OK to steal, pilfer, borrow, and utilize all the resources you have available to manage your company's risk. Your company will be better for it. — Gregg Speed is safety director at Hancock Lumber in Casco, Maine.