January 29, 2018

When is a Safety or Any Other Policy Not a Policy?

By Paul Bieber

Gobblygook. That’s how I always start my blog. What kind of a questions is this? You write a policy, explain it to your employees, post it on the bulletin board and now Paul comes along and says it is not a policy? How far out can Paul be to say something like this?

Easy. It is not a policy until you enforce it. Every day. No exceptions. If you have a policy that everyone wears a hard hat at job sites, it doesn’t mean that on days over 90 degrees you don’t have to wear it. You go to a job site where you have four men doing an install. One is not wearing his hard hat. It is not enough for you to say, “Come on Joe, go get your hard hat from the truck.” What you should say is “Joe, go home, now, and see me in the office tomorrow morning at seven.” Then, if your job needs four men, you put on your hard hat and finish the job.

At seven tomorrow morning, meet with Joe and explain how important it is to wear the appropriate safety gear. No exceptions. Since he lost an afternoon’s pay yesterday, he will get the message. So will the rest of your company.

Let’s go back to the original job site. What about the foreman who was there? Doesn’t he have some skin in the game? Yes, he does. You expect a foreman to take care of the safety of his men. Your foremen should be smart enough to know this without having to reduce their hours. You are paying them a premium to be smart enough to know your policies. Talk to the foreman involved in such a way that he gets the message. He won’t be docked a couple of hours for this type of problem. He will lose his job of foreman and go back to being a glazier if this happens again.

Every rule you lay out for your company doesn’t mean anything unless it is enforced. Whether it is for your accounting department, or work in the field, it is by far better to have fewer rules that are practical and enforceable than many petty rules that can’t all be looked at.

Safety comes first. It is the single most important concept within a glass company. I have read that a majority of accidents occur in an employee’s first year of work, at any company. Teach and enforce your policies and you will escape the horrendous increase to your comp costs and the inconvenience of being short-handed or constantly hiring new folks.

Got it? Good. Now enforce it.