The workers’ compensation costs at Chet’s Rent-All, Rochester Hills, Mich., were heading in the wrong direction. Change was needed, says Glenn Seifert, company integrator.
“When the owner and I met with Kendra [Crandell, CIC, ARA Insurance preferred agent with the Mount Pleasant Agency] and went over insurance, I saw what the workers’ comp costs were from two to five years ago for our eight locations. We saw how significant they were, and it really opened our eyes. If we continued, the rate the company paid for workers’ comp would go up dramatically. If we repeated another year like the past two years, there would be other financial costs to maintain the insurance,” he says.
To turn this around, they knew they needed a safety upgrade.
Seifert says the first step was to use the American Rental Association (ARA) safety models. “We created a training schedule that goes throughout the year. Employees watch a couple of videos per month, and we monitor it to make sure they get it done and how well they grade on the tests,” he says.
Another key was communication at all levels.
Seifert noticed a prime opportunity for an accident to occur was when customers were coming into the yard and employees were hooking up trailers, loading and strapping down equipment. “Everyone needs to look after each other. A lot of these accidents happen when people are not warning each other and communicating with each other. If someone is backing a car or trailer up or doing a team lift where something heavy shifts, this is how an accident can occur,” he says.
But employee communication wasn’t enough. Conversations continued up the ladder. Managers now are briefed on the company’s safety scorecard to see whether they need to call a “safety pause” for more discussion with employees about an incident. If similar accidents occur, more training in that area of concern is scheduled for everyone and safety alerts are emailed throughout the company. “Communication is a team effort,” Seifert says.
Besides going through safety training when onboarding, new hires are given high-visibility green T-shirts. “We call our new hires ‘greenhorns.’ If someone in a green shirt is out in the yard, everyone knows that person has to be strictly shadowed,” Seifert says.
This is all in addition to the regular safety initiatives the company has always done, including monthly meetings, training for certifications and prompt responses to accidents.
These efforts are paying off. “We started this push at the beginning of the year. From February to June, we have had no incidents reported,” Seifert says.