The bottom line is safety

Last updated on April 19th, 2022 at 12:36 am

Proactive stance can cut injuries, reduce costs
About eight years ago, Great Lakes Roofing Corp. in Milwaukee began a comprehensive safety program which involved stressing that the safety of all its employees is the company’s No. 1 priority and pushing safety should be the goal of all workers.
Under the guidance of an insurance firm, Great Lakes went one year with no lost-time accidents.
But when the insurance consultant assigned to Great Lakes attributed that feat to luck, Great Lakes Safety Director Mark Bartolutti dropped the consultant and determined that Great Lakes would go 20 years without any lost-time accidents. With that goal in mind, Great Lakes Roofing Corp., 7360 N. Teutonia Ave., achieved in April its sixth consecutive year with no lost-time accidents and received the Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award for achieving safety and health excellence in 1997.
And in addition to better securing the safety of its employees, Great Lakes’ commitment to safety has paid off financially as well.
According to Bartolutti, before implementation of the current safety program, Great Lakes paid approximately $38 in workers compensation costs per $100 in wages. Now, however, the company pays $27 per $100 in wages.
“We drastically cut worker’s comp costs with this program,” Bartolutti says. “The lowered costs are the black-and-white benefits you can see. But in addition to that, I know we’ve done all we possibly can to keep our workers safe.”
The Great Lakes Roofing Corp. Safety Policy, developed with the help of OSHA and CNA Insurance, addresses the company’s safety goals, responsibilities and guidelines and outlines implementation and reward programs. Monthly foremen’s meetings, Monday morning safety meetings, the formation of two committees on safety and quality issues, and job inspections and reviews serve to embed the notion of safety first in the minds of all Great Lakes employees.
All employees are certified in emergency first aid and CPR. Quarterly $100 bonuses for every member of a crew which achieves three months with no lost-time accidents, dinners and events, and “safety bucks” to be used to purchase tools, apparel, and gift certificates reward employees for doing their part to make Great Lakes a safe place to work.
“Our commitment to safety is based in the belief that our employees are our biggest asset,” Bartolutti says. “The employees must feel safe while taking care of our customers’ needs, or else the quality of our service will be lessened. Also, we hope we never have to go into a home and tell a family that their father, brother, husband or friend is seriously injured.”
In addition to winning the Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award, Great Lakes Roofing qualified at the highest level possible with the Roofing Industry Partnership for Safety and Health and was one of only 15 roofing contractors in a five-state area to qualify at any level.
CleanPower, Inc., 124 N. 121st St. in Wauwatosa, also received a Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award for health and safety excellence in 1997. CleanPower, a commercial cleaning contractor which provides services to offices, medical facilities, and warehouses, uses annual site inspections, workers’ compensation summaries, and reviews of medical accounts to help identify workplace hazards and form proactive accident programs.
According to Jana Rusk, human resources specialist for CleanPower, the award specifically recognized two programs: the return-to-work and bloodborne pathogen training programs.
As part of the return-to-work program, which was selected as a model to be presented at the national Building Service Contractors Association International Convention, when an injured employee is preparing to return to work, the employee’s physician is given a checklist which, when completed, outlines how much bending, lifting, standing, and moving the employee is able to do. This system lessens the risk of reinjury, says Rusk, because employees will only be given those tasks acceptable according to the checklist.
Through the bloodborne pathogen training program, all employees who clean medical facilities are trained in the same way with the same video. That way, all employees receive what CleanPower has determined to be proper training, Rusk says.
“Both Milwaukee County companies have displayed a relentless pursuit of health and safety excellence,” says Bryan Roessler, director of the Wisconsin Council of Safety. “From training programs to recurring site inspections, these companies maintain a high degree of safety awareness throughout their workforces.”
Twelve Wisconsin employers were presented with Wisconsin Corporate Safety Awards on April 27 in an awards program co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Safety, an affiliate of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and the state Department of Workforce Development. Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award winners are selected through a two-phase process. Incidence rates for the past three years, with emphasis on 1997, were compared, and 48 finalists from this year’s 110 nominees then completed reports outlining their corporate safety programs. An independent panel of health and safety professionals selected the winners.
June 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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