With 500 bustling workers on one site alongside heavy equipment and power tools, there’s a high risk of injuries, accidents, and environmental issues. Those facts make Innovator Industrial Services’ record all the more impressive: On a recent 500-man job for Husky, Innovator wrapped up the job with just four first aids and zero medical incidents, environmental problems, and lost time.
How do you put 500 people on a job — within less than a month — and ensure they all follow safety procedures? It takes hard work from a group of dedicated safety professionals alongside a clearly defined behavioral safety program.
Behavioral safety: individual responsibility
Innovator believes that empowering every worker allows him or her to be responsible for safe practices in the field. We work hard to create partnerships between our management and employees that build trust and support constant safety awareness among every individual in the company. This focus on behavioral-based safety practices benefits everyone, including our customers who never have to worry about reckless behavior on the job site.
The leader responsible for providing and maintaining high-level safety training for Innovator employees is Safety Manager Elizabeth Pattimore.
“Innovator always keeps our employees in mind and makes sure everyone understands that this is their program,” Pattimore says. “Having our workers believe in what they’re doing helps us maintain the good record we have.”
Safety training consists of a traditional introduction, but after that, Innovator’s program takes a unique shape as workers become the drivers of safety. This requires trust, communication, and action from management.
One of the ways we accomplish this is through our behavior-based safety observation cards.
“Each card lists 10 different subjects at the field level. Employees can identify a safe or at-risk situation — from housekeeping to a procedural issue — in one of those categories,” Pattimore explains. “I track and trend all of that information, and that’s where our focus audit comes every week. It gives us an idea of what we need to look at.”
Pattimore stresses that it’s not a tattletale program, and no one is ever called out or embarrassed.
“Having a full circle of communication is important,” Pattimore says. “Employees can say whatever they feel is going to help them, because at the end of the day, they’re the ones who have to believe in it.”
Because workers know their observations are valued and that there will be action based on their input, participation is very high and buy-in is strong.
A safety-focused mindset really comes in handy when Innovator is in a pinch — which is exactly what happened with the massive Husky project.
“We had approximately 30 people working on the Husky project for six to eight months. Then, in March we went up to 500-plus people,” Pattimore says. “We went from a construction-support role to being the top contractor on the site, and there was no time to spend getting every person up to speed.”
This didn’t mean Innovator let safety training slip through the cracks. In fact, Pattimore and her group went above and beyond to ensure everyone was ready. They dedicated 30 safety personnel to on-site coverage — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Because we didn’t have an extra week or 10 days to get our workers up to speed in a classroom setting, we made ourselves available to the workers 24 hours a day, offered extensive orientations, and coached everyone in the field,” she says.
Their dedication made an impression; the crews knew the safety group’s priority was to ensure everyone went home safely, and that made the project a success.
“There were a lot of challenges, but we pulled together and completed the project,” Pattimore says. “It was one of the most successful projects I’ve seen in a while.”
Responsibility equals power
Obviously, onboarding 500 people at once isn’t ideal. However, the success of the project demonstrates just how well behavioral safety works at Innovator.
Twenty years ago, safety policies came from the top down, and now behavioral safety allows workplace safety to become every person’s responsibility. As a result, it brings out the very best in people who know they have the power to protect themselves and their coworkers.
Innovator is proud to have a group that puts safety first in every action it takes, and for Pattimore, this proactive approach is what they’ve been striving for.
“We’ve had well over 400,000 person-hours so far in 2015, and over 350,000 hours last year. In that entire time, we’ve had just six first aids,” she says. “Our goal is that when these guys go home, we make sure they get home in the same condition they came — and we’re meeting that goal!”
Innovator Industrial Services can bring expertise, cutting-edge technology, and creative solutions to your company. Learn how — contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (855) 436-4666, or on our website.