A three-year overhaul of its safety program has paid off for The American Group of Constructors (TAG). In that time, the Hammond, Ind.-based construction and maintenance solution provider has slashed its OSHA recordable rate by nearly 50%.
“We wanted to make safety a core value,” says Nick Michailides, who came aboard at TAG in 2006 as head of the then-newly created Health & Safety Department. He began by throwing out the old safety program – not because it had been unsuccessful, but because it was too generic – and created a new one geared to TAG’s needs.
To build upon common requirements like the completion of OSHA’s Ten-Hour Course, TAG added in-house training on a variety of subjects, all tailored specifically to TAG’s nine business units. This includes instruction in Confined Space Entry; Confined Space Monitoring; Excavation Competent Person, Hazardous Waste Operations (40 Hour and Eight-Hour Refresher); Lockout/Tagout; First Aid; and OSHA 10/30 Hour Construction.
Additionally, TAG supervisors are required to complete a minimum of 24 more hours of training a year.
“We wanted people to take responsibility for securing a safe jobsite and be accountable, for keeping it that way every day,’” Michailides says. TAG also re-defined its documentation requirements, with special emphasis on reporting / investigating “near misses” which has been a “significant factor in program development allowing us to address issues proactively, rather than reacting to them after the fact,” Michailides says.
TAG also sponsors an annual Safety Retreat for employees and their families, which reinforces the most important reason for good safety practices on a construction job site: returning home safe and sound to those we care for each and every day.
“Since our first Safety Retreat over two years ago, we have been able to weed out those who didn’t want to participate in our program, which has shown a high level of commitment from the top down.” Michailides says.
TAG’s present structure is made up of “teammates” who have truly taken ownership in the safety of themselves as well as others they come in contact with everyday.
In the past year TAG has implemented a Return to Work program, which allows injured workers to return to full duty more rapidly than they have in years past. The description for every job within a Craft’s scope is now specifically defined allowing TAG to easily determine what tasks can be performed should an employee have restrictions or limited duty,” Michailides explains. Each business unit also has specific headquarters-level jobs, such as those that handle reporting and other administrative procedural documentation, so that workers on restricted or light duty can still contribute to their segment of the business.