On Record

Marcia Gruver Doyle

|  December 09, 2011 |

No Competitive Secrets

I’ve been a guest of Chevron’s Construction Symposium for several years, a great venue for keeping current with industry equipment concerns. I’ve always enjoyed how each day starts out: with a five-minute safety moment presented by an attendee.

This year, the talks underlined how broad based and transferrable best-practices safety can be. One presenter was a waste management firm operating in 40 states. A large Midwestern contractor that prides itself on its equipment management gave the second talk.

Owning or operating transfer stations, solid waste landfills and recycling facilities, the waste management firm uses a focused approach. It identified six areas of primary concern and then concentrates for an entire month on each topic. That month’s topic is explored in a variety of ways, including tailgate meetings, one-on-one conversations and safety videos that loop on a monitor inside their shops and other areas.

This focused approach has gotten tangible results: The company tracks themselves against the rest of those in their industry, and their safety incidents are now less than half of those industry wide. But that’s still unacceptable, it says: They want to flat line on any comparison graph, posting zero incidents.

Both of these companies have ideas that you could adopt no matter your size.

With more than 1,500 employees, the heavy-highway contractor includes safety it its daily morning action plan meetings, ending each meeting with a stretching session designed to get everyone limber for the job’s demands. Various signs on jobsite toolboxes and equipment ask three questions: What am I about to do? What are the hazards? How can I eliminate them?

Both of these companies have ideas that you could adopt no matter your size. While you may not have the resources to produce the DVDs and posters that support the waste management firm’s approach, you could still identify a set of key concerns, and then emphasize one of them throughout a month. And you could copy the construction firm’s three critical questions – or come up with others that appeal to you – to post on your equipment.

But take this further. Bring up safety practices when you meet other contractors. Find out what others are doing and see if they make sense for your company. Some ideas may not work for you, but others will.

When it comes to safety, there are no competitive secrets.

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