You know safety is a priority at a company when the company president submits the application for America's Safest Companies and signs his name with a flourish.
“Our corporate policy puts the safety of our employees at the top of our priority list,” says Ryan Herzog, president of Paramount, Calif.-based M.B. Herzog Electric Inc. “The time, training, culture and efforts we have communicated with all of our team has produced a perfect safety culture with zero accidents in 3 years.”
At Herzog Electric, executive management, the safety department, supervisors and approximately 80 employees are committed to the principle: “We're in this together!” From the time of hire, employees are made aware of their importance to the company's safety culture. Every employee is asked to identify any hazard he or she deems unsafe in his or her daily duties without any reprisals or consequences.
The company's Web site shares this message with visitors: “Without question, the safety of workers and clients on our job sites is of paramount importance to our business. There is no more important component to the Herzog philosophy then creating an environment in which to work safety is no accident … At Herzog Electric, the pride and craftsmanship of our work, along with the safety of our workers, is the hallmark of our business.”
In one unique aspect of the company's safety program, every employee has been asked to spend a day as an “OSHA inspector.” He or she was expected to point out any unsafe acts or potential OSHA violations.
“It was well-received,” remembers Herzog of the program. “It gave every employee a hands-on experience of our expectations for safety and was a true benchmark of our regular, onsite, daily safety culture.”
As an electrical contractor, Herzog Electric employees often are off-site, at different locations, away from the vigilant eyes of the company's safety manager, Harvey Broadway. But he has confidence that the safety culture fostered at Herzog Electric and the training offered to employees in OSHA regulations, lockout/tagout, confined space, ladder safety, lifting and CPR/first aid will keep them safe when they are out on job sites. Unlike some of our other America's Safest Companies, Herzog Electric complies with two sets of standards and regulations: OSHA and NFPA 70 (the National Electrical Code). Even though NFPA 70-E is not an OSHA standard, Herzog Electric has spent a significant amount of money on PPE, tools, kits and program implementation to comply with NFPA 70-E.
“Our employees are educated,” Broadway says. “They are union, and they've all served a 5-year apprenticeship, plus, they have to take continuing education classes to renew their journeyman's licenses. They are well aware of the hazards.”
Plus, Broadway adds, “We have a low turnover rate, and our newest employee has been with us 2 years. Most employees have been with us 10 years or more and our supervisors have been with us 15 to 17 years.”
Broadway says he travels to each of the company's job sites each week. Currently, Herzog Electric employees are working as contractors for Raytheon, Exxon-Mobile and Boeing.
“I make sure they have the tools, supplies and PPE they need to work safely,” he says. “And I know they have the knowledge they need to be compliant with OSHA and NFPA standards.”
When Broadway conducts safety training, he tries to link it to current job sites and activities. “The previous safety director thought a more general approach to safety was best. I try to tailor it to the hazards they might face on the job, personalize it for them by talking about situations that actually are occurring.”
As any small business owner knows, every dollar counts, and Herzog says safety has paid off his company. “Daily safety allows employees to go home safely each day, and also gives MB a competitive advantage in the bidding process because we have a very low x-mode rate. This directly affects our bottom line by reducing workers' compensation insurance premium costs, saving hard dollars.”