To the Employers Resource Safety Team ALL our clients are special. Some clients however manage to endear themselves to our safety guys – partially because the client-owners are really nice people and partially because they understand the importance of providing and maintaining a safe workplace for their employees.
One such client is a large truck and trailer repair company based in Fort Worth, Texas. The current owners took the business over from their parents some time ago. The new owners have made great strides in developing and implementing an effective safety program. The business has grown exponentially and injury frequency and severity have nose-dived.
When the relationship between ERM and this client began, they had approximately 25 or so employees. Today that number approaches 60. Part of the expansion was the addition of a sister company that specializes in retail / commercial small trailer sales and parts.
In the early part of the relationship with the new owners, this client was in the workers’ comp dog house. It seemed as though every week there was another injury of the same type as the week before. Most of these were minor – but several injuries caused by the same circumstance generate a frequency problem that can wreak havoc on both insurance premiums and experience modifiers.
After a good “sit-down” meeting with the owners about their loss history it became obvious to me that they were ready for a change. The new owners “get it” They understand that a good safety program can do much to reduce both the number and severity of workplace injuries.
We spent some time together developing and implementing a complete workplace safety program for the three shops at the client locations. We began with an in-depth safety audit – much like that done by OSHA. I took pictures of every instance where OSHA could potentially issue a costly citation. The owner charged the individual shop managers with correcting the deficiencies and gave them a reasonable time limit to accomplish the task.
The owner also asked that I conduct safety training meetings at each of the three shops. She also appointed a Safety Coordinator from among rank-and-file employees. The safety coordinator made sure that each of the shop managers held a safety meeting with the troops each week.
Perhaps the most innovative concept developed as part of the overall safety effort was the bonus program for managers. While managers and supervisors had enjoyed a bonus based on production for years, the owners now tie a portion of the bonus to the loss ratio (premium/claims) of each shop. For the first time, shop managers and supervisors were held accountable for the safety of the workers they managed.
The safety program was begun almost eight years ago. Shop managers still get weekly safety meeting information from corporate and managers still get a bonus at least partially based on safety.
For some years now this client has enjoyed a greatly reduced loss ratio – directly attributable to the reduced frequency and severity of claims. It is not uncommon for this client to receive a Safety Award and Rebate check each six months for having no lost-time or late reported claims. We are no longer seeing repeat injuries of the same type. Small incidents still occur – employees are human – but steps are taken to eliminate the cause of the injury and reduce the likelihood of another incident of the same type.