Before any employee is released to work, they must attend our bootcamp. This two-hour training is comprised of more than just safety, but safety is a primary focus. This stems from a story a friend of mine relayed that happened to him years ago. As a roofer in Nashville, a crew was working remotely in Knoxville. The crew showed up on the job and realized the tear-off was more difficult that they thought. To help stay on schedule, the foreman went to the local Home Depot and picked up day laborers to help the crew. The very first morning of job start, the crew and new laborers met on the flat roof to discuss staging and project planning. While they were all standing in a circle, one of the new laborers slowly stepped backward. Before anyone could say “watch out”, he stepped right off the roof. His death was instant. The foreman called my friend to tell him what had happened. As my friend was racing from Nashville to Knoxville, the one thing that kept going through his mind was, “I don’t even know his name. I don’t know his family. Who am I going to call? What am I going to do?”
Our program approaches safety from three angles:
Reward: We offer a 6% safety bonus on all jobs. This bonus is shared by the crew, not just individuals. It’s the crew’s to share and is based on the total pay for the crew’s job performance, which is often hundreds of dollars. All safety equipment is provided to the crew. Inspections are performed daily before use. Any defective or worn items are tagged, taken out of service and a replacement is given. We train weekly on safety, which is mandatory.
Penalty: Individuals go through a gradual enforcement step-up in severity that resets after six months. We start by a verbal warning, which is actually tracked in our HR entity under the employee’s record as a safety violation. The second offense is a formal written warning. The violation, corrective action and cure steps are noted. It is signed by the employee and supervisor. Next is the first fine of $50, which is written as well. Then a $150 fine is assessed if the violation continues followed by suspension for the day. Lastly, termination is required if the employee continues to refuse compliance. Furthermore, safety meetings are mandatory. Attendance pays for the hour. However, if missed, a $35 fine is issues.
Cultural: By sharing the safety bonus between the crew, it creates a culture of self-policing. When near misses or injuries do occur the individual affected is brought up front to share their story about the incident. They discuss what they were doing, what happened, how it affected their life and the lives of their family. And they always finish with what they could have done to prevent it. This helps overcome the macho mentality that is common in dominant male and Latino workforces.
If you have questions about our program or would like to discuss strategies we have used, please email me Ken@KellyRoofing.com.
Ken Kelly is President of Kelly Roofing, Naples, Florida. See his full bio here.
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