It's not often that a safety manager, when asked why a company deserves to be named one of America's Safest Companies, has this answer: "To be totally truthful, it's not really Apollo Mechanical that needs to be named as one of America's Safest Companies," says Barte Hess, safety manager of Apollo Mechanical.
Then he clarified that statement, noting, "It is our workforce that needs to be named as one of America's Safest group of employees. Without the dedication, commitment and participation of our workforce on each job site and each individual task, we would succumb to the dangers of the construction industry."
Hess then encouraged EHS Today to interview "everyone, from the company president Mr. Bob Hightower to a first-day employee right after orientation" if we wanted to understand the dedication of all employees to working safely.
At monthly divisional meetings, Hightower regularly emphasizes safety "as not only a personal value, but an expectation for him and all who work for the company to be engaged and supported as an important part of the ‘Home Safe' culture this company embraces," says Hess.
The company has a program called SPIF, which stands for safety process improvement focus. The program encourages workers to share their ideas and experience to find ways to do work more safely and efficiently. Supervisors and craft employees conduct site safety assessment walks as a way to engage employees in the safety process and to encourage communication and transparency between employees and management.
Leading and lagging indicators are discussed at monthly safety leadership meetings, and lessons learned are shared and communicated throughout the company. If an incident occurs, it is shared immediately with that entire division. The company created a program called "I Survived," in which employees who were involved in an incident that could have been deadly share their personal thoughts about what occurred. The program personalizes safety and the implications of workplace incidents. "I Survived" has been adopted as a best practice by other HVAC contractors.
"We can give people all the tools and coaching under the sun," says Hess, "but if employees don't take it on at a personal level and make it a value that they hold dear, success will never be achieved."
Apollo Mechanical Kennewick, Wash.
900 employees/15 EHS professionals
HVAC contracting and design, industrial piping/plumbing