Safety Pays and Best Practices Result at Harness Roofing Inc.: A Partner in the Associated General Contractors, Inc., Arkansas Chapter Partnership
The Safety and Health Arkansas Associated General Contractors Partnership for Excellence (SHAAPE) Partnership was formed by the Associated General Contractors of Arkansas (AGC) and OSHA's Area Office in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Partnership formed in August 2006 with the goal of providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees in the construction industry in Arkansas, and to help prevent serious injuries and illnesses through increased training, and implementing and monitoring effective safety and health management systems (SHMS).
One of the Partnership participants is Harness Roofing, Inc. (HRI) based in Harrison, Arkansas. Before joining the Partnership, Roger Harness, the owner of HRI, always believed that he operated a safe-minded company. However, after an evaluation of his SHMS, Mr. Harness recognized the threat for many serious injuries and fatalities at his worksites. What began simply as fall protection training, soon evolved into employing a full time safety director and furthering a company-wide commitment to operating under a new, stricter safety and health policy - all from participating in the SHAAPE Partnership.
Safety and Health Program Installed at HRI - Safety Pays, Literally
Returning employees home safely everyday is HRI's and OSHA's main goal as they work together in the SHAAPE Partnership, but much can also be said for how improved SHMS can affect an organization's bottom line. For Mr. Harness, part of what drove him towards a commitment to improved safety and health was related to reducing Workmen's Compensation costs, which is costly for roofing contractors. As HRI committed itself to safety and began participating in the Partnership, the company began seeing a savings of over 33% in these costs. How did they do it?
HRI developed a SHMS that targets each and every employee who works for the company. From their very first day on the job, all employees must pass the fall protection test and all are issued a Fall Protection Harness and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Due to the large Hispanic population that works in the field, HRI provided weekly safety and health meetings in both English and Spanish to keep employees involved. Also, each morning begins with a jobsite inspection (by assigned team members) to identify potential hazards. Depending on the size of the job, the Safety Director (or Project Manager or Foreman) is present on all start-up jobs. Surprise visits by HRI management are conducted several times a week.
In the roofing industry, falls have the greatest potential for injury. Since joining the Partnership, HRI has become committed to making sure all employees are wearing a harness/PPE at all times when on the job. As a part of the employer’s disciplinary policy, if an employee is observed without the proper equipment, suspension with pay occurs. Mr. Harness believes that by suspending an employee with pay, it reinforces that the company truly cares about the safety and health of each and every employee. Upon suspension, the employee is required to review the fall protection test and retest the next day.
These initiatives and best practices have resulted in HRI saving thousands of dollars in worker compensation costs. Partnering in the SHAAPE Partnership was a win-win situation for all involved.
The SHAAPE Partnership's common objective is to provide a safe and healthful workplace for all employees engaged in construction activities in Arkansas, and to help prevent serious injuries and illnesses within the industry through increased training and implementation and monitoring of enhanced safety and health management systems.