Safety on the job site is critical to any project’s success. Attention to safety beyond ensuring compliance and employee health and well-being also pays dividends, according to Joel Wiley, Corporate Safety Manager at Harris & Hart.
Harris & Hart is a union sheet metal contractor based in Ogden, Utah. Formerly a safety consultant, Wiley has overseen safety operations at the company for over two years.
Regarding the company’s bottom line, Wiley finds that attention to safety can save the company from unwanted costs.
“This is an effort driven from the highest levels of our organization,” Wiley tells Highwire. “Our safety department is … another cog in that wheel.”
Connecting all of the dots
Indeed, not all safety managers make the connection between the business of safety—the millions of dollars in potential insurance savings and profits—and the day-to-day responsibility of overseeing safe projects.
“If we have a higher EMR or incident rate, that’s a multimillion-dollar contract that we’re not going to be eligible for,” Wiley says. “Our top management can see that. Not to mention, they’re compassionate people who have families of their own. It’s important to keep people safe regardless.”
This year, Harris & Hart received a safety score of 97 on the Highwire platform, meaning it will receive the Platinum Safety Award for 2023. The award is a measure of traditional lagging safety indicators like DART and EMR scores, as well as the efficacy of safety management systems and protocols. It’s only given to the platform’s most elite safety performers.
Predictably, the safety program at Harris & Hart is rigorous. Wiley says all employees must undergo five full training days before stepping onto the field. “Most companies have a day or a day and a half,” he adds.
That training includes a complete in-house orientation, up to eight hours of rigging instruction, and a complete recertification for “every single person, no matter their experience,” Wiley says. If nothing else, “it’s a refresher for people.”
Proper equipment leads to savings
Each trade has its own “universe” of detail and intricacy. Harris & Hart focuses on large-scale industrial steel fabrication, building ductwork for clients such as Boeing and Tesla, among others.
We spoke to Wiley while he was on a job site where “every duct touched a crane or a hook of some kind”—a fact that illustrates why every worker on the ground has to be rigging-certified.
“Rigging equipment is big and bulky; it works in certain configurations and not others,” he says.
The company ensures its own certification standard while obtaining the highest quality equipment.
“It is recognized that there can be cost savings and other benefits in having the right equipment,” Wiley adds.
Joel says he immediately notified the company’s president, vice president, and operations manager when he received the Platinum Safety Award. “They were ecstatic.”
“It’s a nice feather in our cap,” he says. “It’s something we take pride in.”
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