April 11, 2009

The Best Investment You Can Make In Your Glass Shop

By Paul Bieber

Yep. Here it is. This investment will pay you more dividends than shorting a bank stock. Bernie Madoff is not part of this; you don’t need permission from the government, and I promise you that your company will come out ahead with this investment.

Here it is:


Safety is not a stock, it is not a scheme. Safety protects your workers, which saves you money. An accident-free year will trim your worker’s comp insurance by as much as 20%. Do the math. It pays to be safe.

In addition to the insurance savings, reduced or eliminated injuries means no lost productivity. No one standing around talking about an injury, no one home watching the commercials for 1-800 Sue Your Employer, and not having to train someone to take the place of an injured person. These savings are worth more than the cash savings on your insurance premium.

Of course, the best thing is that no one gets hurt, or if they are hurt, the severity would be greatly reduced. I have ridden in the ambulance with an injured employee, have talked with the wife and family of a worker who was hurt. No fun here. I sure wish I could have prevented these accidents.

But, accidents are just that, accidents. How can you prevent what you can’t predict? Simple. Look at every action taken in your building or on your job sites. You will see many opportunities for accidents. Train your people to think about safety as they go through the work day. Remove the clutter from your shop; don’t take jobs that have greater chances of being dangerous. I was in a glass fabricator’s office last month when a customer called and asked if he could buy a piece of single thick, 60 x84. He was told we had the size, but can not sell it as a loose stock sheet. After explaining how unsafe this was, the customer then offered to pay an extra $5.00 if it could be delivered. My client said “NO”. I am glad they did. After he offered $10.00, we started laughing. My client was smart to know that no amount of extra money could repay the costs incurred in that piece broke while being picked up.

Fabricators have thin glass this large because they have invested in handling equipment that takes the worker out of the equation. This investment pays off because they get increased yields on large glass, while having no chance for injury if the equipment is used correctly.

Keep it simple…insist that your employees wear gloves, arm and wrist guards, safety glasses with side shields, work shoes with leather soles and steel toe guards, and hard hats when any glass is over their head. You will spend about $200 per employee, and I promise you, this will be the best money you ever spent. When one person gets a bruise on his wrist, instead of a 10 stitch cut, you will have made back your investment many times over.

Reduction of injuries is key…even better is prevention. You can’t measure how many accidents you prevent. But you will prevent some by teaching and stressing safety for everyone. Your actions should back this up. Wear the safety gear yourself, both as an example, and to protect yourself.

Back up your men when they say a job isn’t safe to work at. Go right to the job site and work something out with the owner/GC that allows your crew to work safely. Your crew will be proud of you for the support.

Let’s shift gears for a second. Does anyone have the ‘writer’s bug’? I am looking for a couple of guest blogs to run in May, when I may not be available to write. The topics can be anything that is relevant or interesting to the glass industry. Send you blog to me at: paulbaseball@msn.com. I will only edit your writings for spelling and grammar. I can’t promise to run everyone’s…but send yours to me and let’s see what happens.