At Safway Services LLC, a Wisconsin-based provider of scaffolding and access services, safety is an investment. Employees are empowered to participate, engage and succeed in the organization's safety management systems and culture.

“The dedication from every single employee, how they pre-plan their work to the culture we have formed, makes a significant difference,” said Midwest Regional Safety Manager Carrie Heller. “That's what makes it work.”

Safway empowers its 5,600 employees to anticipate hazards and maintain safe work methods on jobsites; educates employees to work safely and effectively; and believes that all accidents are preventable. The company puts a strong focus on employee safety training, maintains a competent person program and supervisor safety training program and develops thorough fall protection plans before starting work. Finally, safety is a direct corporate function with corporate oversight.

Employees are further empowered by having their good deeds regarding safety recognized. Safway spotlights and promotes employees who identify safety concerns by sharing the accomplishment with the rest of the work force and promoting it in the company newsletter. These efforts send the message that safety matters and that the company supports employees who work safely and speak up.

Heller added that Safway's training programs are at the core of empowering employees.

“I think the field-level training is the most significant thing Safway has done,” she said. “We also rolled out a supervisor safety training program last year. [Supervisors] have a new understanding of what's expected of them, and a new ownership of what safety means to them.”

MONEY TALKS

No matter the economic conditions, safety doesn't suffer at Safway.

“Even in this economic climate that companies are struggling to survive in, Safway has not pulled back the reins at all when it comes to the financial commitment to safety,” said Alan Shamblin, director of safety. “We look at training not as an expense but as an investment.”

Money isn't the only thing that talks: support from corporate leadership also is imperative to Safway's success. Shamblin said the company CEO embraces and supports the company's safety initiatives.

“We have the full support from not only the financial standpoint but from a personal commitment standpoint that [CEO] Marc Wilson will get involved,” Shamblin explained. “That direct line of sight to the executive team and to the CEO of the company helps support the top-down approach.”

A STAR IS BORN

Last year, one of Safway's sites was recognized by Cal/OSHA as a VPP Star Site. Safway took it a step further by encouraging two of its employees to become Cal/OSHA special team members (STMs). Along with other California inspectors and compliance officers, these employees audit companies and sites and provide input on their programs.

“So not only have we gone through the process, but we're giving back,” Shamblin said. “To me, that's just another example of how management commits its resources and supports [employees].”

The VPP designation isn't the only reason Safway can toot its own horn. The company has received numerous safety and contractor awards and now joins the list of America's Safest Companies.

“It's a huge accomplishment for our company within all levels, from corporate through the field,” Heller said of the ASC award. “It's an awesome recognition that hopefully we can continue to build off of.”