At Balfour Beatty, Zero Harm is paramount to everything we do. It is the principle that guides our commitment to our teammates, trade partners and clients that we will accept nothing less than zero injuries for anyone coming into contact with our projects.
To deliver maximum value for our clients and meet their business objectives, our safety experts continually work with our project teams and trade partners to ensure they are equipped with the education and tools necessary to safely and efficiently deliver successful projects.
As part of this commitment, we require high safety standards from our trade partners. One area in which Balfour Beatty has helped provide counsel to our trade partners is regarding their Experience Modification Rates (EMR). A company’s EMR, which is used to price workers’ compensation insurance premiums, can either help drive growth or significantly hinder success. Not only does a higher EMR cost companies more money in premiums, but it may also prevent those companies from having the opportunity to partner on our projects. Much like a credit score, an EMR is a gauge of future risk.
Although companies don’t control industry loss rates set by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), there are proactive steps they can take to positively impact their EMRs, which in turn lowers insurance costs, qualifies them to pursue work with contractors like Balfour Beatty, and most importantly, helps keep people safe.
Here are three keys to success:
Safety Program: Just as companies invest a substantial amount of thought and energy into creating effective business models, the same effort should be invested into creating safety programs. It should never be assumed that just because a program is in a book or SOP that it is understood by the workers on-site. The program’s most important tool is a detailed Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) that is created with the help of those who perform the work. Because workers observe jobsite hazards day in and day out, they can be a major asset in keeping others safe.
Manage claims: Far too often, companies have little to no involvement in managing the care of their workers, which can negatively affect EMRs. As part of the claims process, supervisors should accompany workers to healthcare facilities to ensure appropriate medical attention is received. They should also implement return-to-work programs and offer modified duty options so workers can get back to work sooner.
Safety Culture: The most powerful way to lower an EMR is creating a genuine safety culture. When employees take ownership of safety not only for themselves, but also for their friends and teammates, maximum success can be achieved. What’s more, the companies with the strongest safety cultures tend to also be the most successful in production and execution of quality work. A safety culture begins with management that holds employees accountable. Without passionate commitment from the top, an effective safety culture cannot be sustained.
At Balfour Beatty, we want our trade partners to understand their workers’ concerns, praise them often, consistently give feedback and always look to improve their work environment. The most telling sign of an impactful safety culture is when entry-level workers are willing to say something when they observe unsafe behaviors or actions. If workers don’t feel comfortable speaking up, it reveals a failure in leadership and is a warning sign that the company’s safety culture needs improvement.