The following story is an example of the BMWC Value Leadership and is about the BMWC West Coast team and how they are demonstrating leadership at their job sites. The story is written by BMWC Project Engineer David Phillips (Pictured Above).
Developing the Idea
There are times when the word safety can feel like administration giving you a new rule to follow and more paperwork to fill out every day. At BMWC, we are asked to walk our job site, look for safety concerns and stop work if we see unsafe activities. Do we consider the viewpoint of our craft? There are times when they can feel like we are not on their team and only concerned with the company policy. In order to break this trend, we are making an effort to show our craft that we are truly concerned for their safety, and not just adding another rule to the book.
In an effort to give our employees a platform to voice their concerns, Dave Knecht (Project Manager), Anthony Andrews (Safety Manager), Ariel Townsend (Safety Coordinator) and I started hosting a meeting that we call “Five Worker Lunch”. We asked five crew members to join a meeting during their lunch break. We invited a diverse group that would be an accurate representation of the crews on site.
A simple question will usually start the conversation, “How can we improve the safety at BMWC?”. We have also used a lean coffee exercise to produce topics of discussion [Image 1]. The main idea is that the topics are created by the five field employees and concerns are met with open ears.
Over the last few months, we have seen great success! Below are a few accomplishments.
Internal Safety Program Discussion
It was identified that there was a negative stigma surrounding a new internal safety program. Employees were concerned that there would be repercussions after submitting. The meeting gave us a platform to explain the program in depth and explain that it would be used to identify people that are working safely and not just outline unsafe behavior or situations. We asked the group to spread the word and installed drop boxes on site. The group also decided that there needed to be a visible reward to promote participation, so we started a reward program for those who participated.
How do you plan to help someone that has fallen and is hanging from their fall protection? This concern was brought to us by one of the five craft workers invited to lunch after one of our safety meetings about fall protection. We again asked the group to promote a conversation with their crews during the creation of the pre-task plan. Now we are seeing rescue plans included in the pre-task plans that are submitted daily. This was a great example of the change that can be made when you empower someone in the crew.
During our talks about fall protection, the new hire training came into question. Employees had questions about how to fit a harness correctly and some of our new hires felt that we could have done a better job during the new hire orientation. To remedy this, we updated the new hire orientation to include an improved harness training. In the next safety meeting, we covered and presented a video on adjusting a harness. We were also able to address the question of how to fit a harness to women vs men.
Weekly Safety Meeting
Our site safety meetings have typically been held immediately following Stretch and Flex. This was a convenient time and location since the entire crew was already present. Unfortunately, this location is a crowded space that contains other trades. It was brought to our attention that the surrounding noise was distracting, and the meeting could be more effective in a better location. Following this recommendation, the meeting was moved to a private room and now includes a visual presentation. The improvement can be seen in the meeting, with employees asking questions and being engaged, as well as across the site. Employees are approaching safety personnel with items that were covered in the meetings, proving that the information is being used in daily activities.
The most important thing to note is that our feedback has been very positive. The most notable success of this meeting is the newfound sense of collaboration. Our craft report that they feel more comfortable when seeing administration in the field. They understand our purpose and feel aligned with our vision of zero injuries.
Based on the early success of the West Coast Team, they will provide the tools and training to other BMWC locations. By creating an open discussion at other sites, they may bring up different issues and ideas. All the participating job sites can then share their information, so everyone can benefit. The key to these meetings is to allow the craft to return to work with fresh ideas about how to improve the safety of their team. We try not to impose new rules but ask that they take the information and spread it to their crew. This allows the flow of information to come from somewhere other than administration.
To read the first 65th Anniversary Values Series story on Integrity, click here.