A summer celebration of safety

By Mike Novakoski – June 27, 2017

Our construction firm had an opportunity earlier this summer to celebrate a significant milestone in our company’s history: We achieved 3,653 consecutive days without a lost-time accident on a job site. Yes, that’s 10 years (including leap days)!

For those who are not in the commercial construction industry, it may be hard to understand what this means, but if you imagine the risks and danger associated with what our tradespeople are subjected to each and every day, it’s amazing! The 100-plus men and women who are performing in their trade do so with safety front and center. Working safe is not about “staying out of trouble with management,” it’s about getting home each night to our families in the same condition we left the house that morning. Can anything be more important?

Obviously, a company’s care for the safety of its workforce is paramount. Human capital is the most valuable asset many companies have. Safety needs to be the highest priority. Unfortunately, many contractors still look at job-site safety requirements as a nuisance; something that costs money and time. Safety programs for them are therefore a byproduct of the fear of getting into trouble with governmental agencies like MiOSHA. The primary driver for all contractors needs to be changed from “avoiding fines” to “saving lives.”

It was many years ago, in a light-bulb moment, when our firm realized the most impactful way for our people to support our desired safety culture was to make an emotional plea. We realized if they understood why we wanted them to wear their hardhat 100 percent of the time (so they could be home at night to tuck their children in and hug their spouse) we received a completely different buy-in. We even had a coloring contest for the children where they submitted a drawing that was titled, “Why I Need My Dad/Mom to Come Home Safe Each Night.” Imagine when we laminated these works of art and posted them in job-site trailers and around projects!

Focusing on the family connection to safety is a common thread carried throughout every piece of our program, leading us to an incredible milestone. This milestone was worthy of a huge celebration in the park. Hundreds gathered — workers, spouses and children — to celebrate an incredible accomplishment. Great weather, food, activities and fellowship for all made for an evening of lasting memories, joy and laughter.

At our firm, we will continue to put safety first and believe it to be unconscionable to place profit before anyone’s welfare. We look forward to continuing to improve on our record one day at a time. We do not rest on our laurels, but instead ask our team to intensely focus on safely completing the present day’s work. If they do so, we can hope to string together many more days to celebrate in the future. Isn’t life a great thing to celebrate?

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