Safety and quality have always been the cornerstones of the Graycor culture. Graycor’s focus on safety 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.
As part of its commitment to safety, Graycor holds an annual Safety Excellence Workshop, a.k.a, Safety Boot Camp. The 2013 Safety Boot Camp was held on July 26 and August 2 at the Tinley Park Convention Center, outside of Chicago, to promote learning and reinforce the commitment to the safety of our employees. The theme of this year’s boot camp centered on “People Based Safety”, and how our thinking process, beliefs and basic assumptions about life affect what we do and the decisions we make.
“We recognize that we work in a very dynamic environment where mistakes can result in serious injury and death, so we must be dedicated to creating safe worksites and enabling a ‘safety first’ culture. We need to continue to be forward thinking about safety, avoid any type of complacency and develop innovative approaches to continue our safety leadership role within the construction industry,” says Jack Carlson, Vice President, Safety and Quality at Graycor. “Some basic safety fundamentals will never change, but as an organization we need to continue to learn from our project experience as well as external perspectives to continuously improve and hone our safety program and record. What you think is a good practice one minute, can quickly not be one the next minute”.
The Graycor Boot Camp consisted of a combination of outside speakers as well as a series of small group breakout sessions that covered a variety of safety topics related to construction job sites.
The day kicked off with a safety message from an owner’s perspective, which was provided by a supervisor of one of Graycor’s longtime clients within the power industry. The owner’s internal commitment and expectations regarding safety were shared, as well as the knowledge that what they expect from contractors is nothing less than what they expect of themselves.
The small group sessions covered Hand and Eye Safety when using power tools, Fall Protection solutions and Graycor’s launching of a People Based Safety program where the management encourages the individual craftspersons to look out for one another by documenting safe and unsafe actions and discussing them in open forums. The overall message of the workshops was that safety doesn’t happen by accident but rather it takes a conscious effort to make the right choices, follow the proper procedures, wear the appropriate equipment, be aware of your surroundings and watch out for your fellow man.
“We had a very robust boot camp this year,” according to Randy Hynek, Director, Safety at Graycor. “The key is to continuously leverage our experiences, and introduce new technologies and approaches to make sure we are creating the safest environments as possible”. A particularly impactful session was the Superintendents Lessons Learned session. In this session Graycor superintendents shared their real life experiences about near-misses, accidents and solutions.
The final segment of the workshop included a motivational presentation by Dr. Todd Conklin, a Human and Organization Performance Consultant at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Todd provided an interesting presentation on understanding and improving human performance with a focus on safety. He talked about understanding not why the accidents occur but how they occur and how safety is not the absence of accidents, but is the presence of defenses. His presentation speaks to a better understanding of the relationship between the workers in the field and the organization’s systems, processes and programs.
Graycor also worked very closely with its Insurance partner, American Contractors Insurance Group, at the boot camp, to incorporate their perspectives and expertise to assure best practices were being incorporated. “Graycor fully appreciates the impact of a best of breed safety program on its business and understands that safety must be part of the company’s DNA if it is to truly embrace it as part of its culture. The Graycor Safety Boot Camp both symbolizes and helps foster the safety culture as well as provide key learning opportunities to better apply safety both tactically and holistically”, according to Mike Ruefer, Senior Safety Consultant at American Contractors Insurance Group.
Virtually from the time of the company’s founding, Graycor’s commitment to safety was evident in early client testimonials. This focus on safety has served Graycor well as its safety record has exceeded its industry peers over the years. Graycor’s systematic approach assures that safety goals are met through management commitment and continuous training. In the words of Melvin Gray, Graycor’s Chairman and CEO: “Nothing is more important than safety, not production, not sales, not profits.”