40 Things You Can Learn from America's Safest Companies

Howard Mavity, Fisher and Phillips LLP

The following workplace safety ideas have been employed by award-winning companies and may work for your organization, too.

1.      Project manager and superintendent bonuses depend on safety performance.

2.      Company and subcontractor incidents are investigated, and then the project team makes a presentation of the findings to management.

3.      All field management personnel must have received Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training within the past three years.

4.      The CEO leads weekly company-wide safety conference calls for all project management personnel.

5.      Everyone, from the foremen to the owner of the company, receives OSHA training.

6.      The superintendent presents the site-specific orientation for new hires.

7.      A safety committee with a 4-to-1 ratio of field employees to management visits at least once per month.

8.      A subcontractor safety summit is conducted by company presidents and operations managers to demonstrate that safety standards come from the top.

9.      The foreman and superintendent are certified as "competent persons" in their area of expertise.

10.   "Brown bag" safety video conferences are conducted by the CEO and recorded for later viewing.

11.   Superintendent(s) teach an 8-hour class on effective safety dialog with crews.

12.   "Stop work" award letters from the CEO are given to employees who take action to stop and correct an unsafe activity.

13.   Presidents' safety walks are conducted quarterly.

14.   Field managers must log a minimum of 16 hours of continuing safety education each year.

15.   Supervisory employees are trained to be "competent persons" for all work activities, even for work they may not supervise directly.

16.   A supervisory "safety resource desk" with a computer and a library of safety references is maintained at the job trailer to help supervisors learn about safety issues on their own. When supervisors find answers on their own rather than being told what to do, they learn and retain more.

17.   Foremen and supervisory employees receive "soft skills" training on how to handle common people issues.

18.   In-house trainers receive training on improving speaking and team-building skills.

19.   Operations managers investigate all incidents/accidents as opposed to the safety department.

20.   After project completion, employees who will lose their jobs receive free OSHA training for goodwill, new job marketability and prevention of fraudulent workers' compensation claims.

21.   Monthly job-site safety discussions are hosted and led by the superintendent.

22.   Any incident with the project must be reported to the CEO and safety director the same day.

23.   A "no crew left unsupervised" program is implemented to make sure all crews receive the planning and safety management they deserve.

24.   Senior management makes the commitment to shake at least 10 workers hands three times a month and talk about a specific safety item.

25.   Employees have access to "improve it" cards that follow the company's safety-improvement philosophy of, "You said it; we did it."

26.   Employees carry "stop work" cards signed by the CEO in their wallet.

27.   An executive safety task force conducts monthly safety audits, with the highest scoring jobs winning a safety BBQ each quarter.

28.   Adopt the motto of "left of zero" to focus on prevention and planning.

29.   After the first 250 hours of work, new employees are brought back through the process to see how they feel about safety and what the company should do differently in terms of bringing on new employees.

30.   Supervisors have an annual safety retreat.

31.   New employees are not allowed at dangerous heights until deemed properly trained by their supervisor.

32.   Surprise mock OSHA inspections are conducted.

33.   Management accepts responsibility for a "failure" that causes an accident.

34.   All supervisors are required to attend a behavior-based safety course.

35.   Management performs unannounced job tours.

36.   "Safety" is in the job title of all supervisors.

37.   Visit employees at home if they have been injured on the job.

38.   Safety stand-downs are held twice a year to develop a strategic plan.

39.   Do not support "silence" on safety issues.

40.   Safety "town hall" meetings with the CEO are held twice a year.

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About the Author

Howard Mavity has practiced law for nearly 30 years and is the founder of the Fisher and Phillips Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. He has exte...