During two sessions in July, nearly 300 participants came together for Graycor's 2014 Safety Excellence Workshop at the Tinley Park Convention Center located just outside Chicago, IL. Led by Dan Kilgore and Tim Dace of Graycor Industrial Constructors, the daylong events included safety-focused talks from business managers and superintendents, construction product demonstrations and shared employee experiences highlighting the importance of workplace safety.
After a brief introduction to the program, Sam Potter, President of Graycor Industrial Constructors, spoke to the group on the importance of safety. With nearly six million miles traveled each year by Graycor company trucks and work vehicles, he explained why safety must be at the "top of your mind" for every task performed throughout the day. Whether it is driving to a job site, welding on an elevated platform or operating a large crane within an active craft work area, Potter highlighted the fact that safety is everyone's job. He stated, "A successful safety program requires the participation of each and every employee regardless of their level of experience. All of us share in the responsibility to keep our job sites safe."
Being an industry leader in safety is something that Graycor has always been proud of. With its "Zero Injury" safety program, the company continues to exceed industry averages for safety performance, but is also constantly looking for ways to improve. At this year's workshop, Michael Ruefer, Senior Safety Consultant for American Contractors Insurance Group (ACIG), was invited to talk about safety best practices and what is being done to build a culture of safety in the construction industry today. Among successful programs, a lead-by-example approach to safety and active communication among trades and project teams were noted as key components to success. Careful examination of "near misses," many of which were shared by Graycor Superintendents at the workshop this year, were also described as being especially important times to discuss what went wrong, and how teams would use the experience to improve upon their safety programs.
During the workshop, break-out sessions helped groups to dive deeper into important topics in safety. In one session, a representative from Python Safety discussed the importance of using "Fall Protection for Tools" when craftspeople are working at heights. To prevent the potentially fatal mistake of dropping a hammer, wrench or other tool on a coworker below, special lanyards and tool attachment devices were demonstrated to show simple, but effective ways for preventing this type of incident. Other sessions at the workshop provided employees with updates on new OSHA regulations, and where to go to receive training for such things as aerial lift operation, hot and cold weather work planning or lifesaving practices including how to properly administer CPR. Randy Hynek, Director of Safety at Graycor, also presented an interactive risk tolerance survey to the entire group, and discussed how important it is to avoid complacency when dealing with working safely.
Ignoring safety procedures can have a profound impact not only on employees, but also on their friends and families. At this year's workshop, traveling safety speaker Brad Livingston was invited to share his impactful story through which he told of an explosion and the injuries caused to him when welding safety procedures were ignored. Through months of rehabilitation and enormous family sacrifice, Brad relayed he was able to recover but even today continues to carry guilt for the emotional pain brought to his family.A commitment to family has always been something that Graycor values, and Livingston's meaningful story reinforces the importance of making safety-minded work decisions.
As demonstrated throughout this year's workshop, safety is everyone's responsibility. The combined commitment to safety shared by Graycor employees is one of the major reasons it has been able to successfully win new business and safely execute complex projects for its clients for over 90 years. "We continue to push the bar higher for safety performance," says Jack Carlson, Vice President, Safety and Quality at Graycor. "With the dynamic and challenging nature of construction work, training programs such as the Safety Excellence Workshop help remind our teams about the importance of working safely every day."