Safety must be a core practice of any organization that wants to recruit, develop and retain good employees.
When an organization builds a culture of safety, they create an environment that communicates care for the employees. A key building block in the safety paradigm is the incorporation of personal protective equipment (PPE). As the governmental agency that is responsible for educating and overseeing workplace safety, OSHA has advised, “If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented. This program should address the hazards present; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.”
A culture of safety saves money by keeping an organization out of trouble and keeping employees on the job. According to OSHA, “It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs alone.” In case you missed it - that was per week. This means employees are getting injured at a rate that should not be acceptable and there is great incentive for companies to invest in improving their approach to safety.
Let’s review eight keys to building a culture of safety, starting with personal protective equipment:
1.What is PPE
PPE stands for Personal protective equipment. The employer is required to identify the hazards that exist in relationship to the scope of work that they are sending their employees out to complete. In the identification of those hazards the employer must provide training to mitigate those hazards as well as personal protective equipment to ensure safety of employees.
To be clear, personal protective equipment does not remove all hazards for employees nor does it alleviate all liability for workplace safety for employers. OSHA states, “Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect workers. However, when engineering, work practice and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to you and ensure its use.” Providing PPE to employees is one ingredient in the safety cake, to get the full taste there must be an effective training mechanism for helping employees to identify hazards as well properly utilize the equipment.
2.What is OSHA
OSHA is the abbreviation for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA operates as a part of the United States Department of Labor. OSHA was created by Congress through the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
3.When is PPE necessary
The United States Department of Labor states, “If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented.” Personal protective equipment should be used in collaboration with workplace and environmental controls to reduce hazard exposure of employees. As previously mentioned, employers are first responsible to enact controls for safety through:
4.What kind of PPE is necessary
With regard to hazardous materials, OSHA 1910.120 App B covers the general description and discussion of the levels of protection and protective gear. In this section of OSHA there are four levels of personal protective equipment:
5.Who is responsible to provide PPE
OSHA has created a handout to attempt to clarify who is responsible for providing personal protective equipment. “On May 15, 2008, a new OSHA rule about employer payment for PPE went into effect. With few exceptions, OSHA now requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment used to comply with OSHA standards.”
6.How does a team member properly put their PPE on, adjust, wear and take it off
This is also referred to as don and doff. If the manner in which personal protective equipment is put on is incorrect then employees may be exposing themselves to hazards with a false sense of security. If the manner in which PPE is taken off is incorrect then the employees may be exposing themselves and their families to hazards by bringing contaminants home with them. If employees do not know how to properly put their PPE on or take it off then there is a dual threat of hazard exposure for the employee as well as liability exposure for for the employer. It is in the best interest of all parties to ensure this aspect of training is addressed.
7.What are the limitations of the PPE being used
Personal protective equipment should be viewed as one component of a proper safety program. 360training.com has a helpful pictographic that includes limitations of PPE, “
8.What is the proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the PPE
OSHA expects that employees:
Competing in the marketplace requires organizations to recruit, develop and retain good employees. Once those employees are in the door they must be trained on how to perform their work safely which includes knowing how to identify hazards, what personal protective equipment to use and how to maintain their PPE. Building a culture of safety communicates to the team that the organization cares about them. Building a culture of safety is essential to being competitive as it helps to keep players in the game and significantly reduces the cost of preventable workplace injuries or illness.
IZ Ventures - more than business coaching and consulting, we help you connect, collaborate and conquer.
How organizations approach training and certification has a direct effect on development and retention.
In the property restoration industry we all have heard multiple employers complain that they sent their employees off to a water damage certification class only to lose them in a short period of time to their competitors. These same persons in positions of leadership believe that the issue is 100% on the employee side. If we take a step back to dig beneath the surface are we able to determine whether the symptoms give us more insight on the potential cause(s)?
Organizational approach to training
How does your organization approach training within your team? Is training a priority in the sense that those responsible come prepared to meetings with relevant information? Often designated training time approaches with no preparation and is utilized by leadership to air out opinions on how the team is coming up short on execution. When a team has experienced water, fire and hazardous restoration employees, there are plenty of resources to facilitate sharing of knowledge from within.
Questions leaders should ask about training
Organizational approach to certification
How does your organization approach certification with your team? Is certification something that is earned and celebrated? Most organizations are one of two extremes - A) certify everyone from day one or B) certify as few persons as possible.
Certification extreme A often puts the cart before the horse and produces employees who have the book smarts without any field experience which creates some tension with their trainers. Being able to quote the IICRC S500 standard reference guide for professional water damage restoration is only one of many steps to being able to successfully perform mitigation.
Certification extreme B creates an environment without opportunity to expand knowledge or promotion within the team. While those in leadership would say they value industry certification, they either value it too much or do not practice what they preach. The end result is that only a few designated representatives become the information silos in the workplace.
Organizational application of certification
Whether you certify everyone or only a select few, what do you do with certification on your team? If your competitors are lining up to pay your employees who have become more valuable by completing benchmarks such as IICRC S500 or EPA RRP, why are you not competing for your own internally developed resources?
Common organizational responses to certification
Optimizing training and certification
Lead by example. As a person in a position of leadership, are you still actively learning new things about your industry? While the leader should not be the only one acquiring certification, they should lead by example that on going education and personal development are important. When was the last time you learned and/or shared something?
Invest in your greatest assets. Do you invest in regular training to develop your teams abilities and opportunities? Employee retention in the current economy is more difficult and costly than customer acquisition. Certification alone is not the cure all to employee development but it should be viewed as a valuable tool for the team as well as the team members.
Celebrate achievement. Who doesn’t like to celebrate? What does your team celebrate? Do you celebrate certification both leading up to and following completion of the course? Do you make an effort to notice and share the day-to-day wins of your team?
Don’t allow negativity to steer the organization
Perhaps many organizations are speaking their future into reality when they view their team members in a negative light. If you are fearful or suspicious of your people leaving the organization rather than blame them for being unreliable, make an effort to create an organization that they wouldn’t want to leave. Easier said than done, but clearly focusing on blaming others and complaining to your friends with similar negative views isn’t fixing the problem.
There are three key responsibilities in leadership with regards to building a successful team.
1) WHO you let in the door.
This is perhaps the area WHERE you have the most control as a leader and as an organization. Your recruitment should reflect your values. It is critical to be aggressive with recruiting so that you can be selective in whom you hire.
2) WHAT you do to develop and train the talent that you have acquired.
If you find skilled individuals your on-boarding process is essential in helping them to embrace as well as enhance your culture. If you are hiring persons who do not have immediate experience in your industry then training is essential to get them in the flow of contributing to the team.
Doing things right and developing a consistent system are critical to long term success.
3) HOW you handle the performance and attitude of your team members.
Training, development, discipline and termination are all important tests of whether you will uphold your values consistently. When an organization practices what they preach from the top down they will reap the benefits of accountability from the bottom up.
Long term success follows a sequence of clarity, consistency and accountability. Without clarity there will be no consistency. Without consistency there will be no accountability. With these three working together you have the key components for success as a team.
IZ Ventures more than business coaching & consulting - we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer.
If you found these words to be helpful, you may find further value in this video covering some of the entrepreneurial interviews that we have conducted.
We love reading the stories of the successful once their journey has reached a point that they can drop bombs of wisdom on us about how they reached a level that we can admire. But what does innovation look like at the ground level, while it is still happening? What does it look like when you have an idea, you connect with a few people who get it, you begin to collaborate and build towards conquering your dreams? Tony Canas and co-author Carly Burnham (read our interview with Carly HERE) have found a piece of the puzzle that they are skilled and passionate about, they have collaborated to create InsNerds and co-authored a book, Insuring Tommorrow, to share their insights and story. To interact with Tony is to engage with an aspect of innovation that is gaining momentum through hard work, creativity and collaboration within an industry (like all industries) that is in need of innovation. Tony is digging into a subject that many are reticent to touch, the recruitment, development and retention of Millennials. In doing so, Mr. Canas has become a known blogger, author and speaker on the topic with his session "Recruiting and Retaining Millennials" being delivered at the CPCU Society Leadership Conference and Annual Meetings for 2014. Our thanks to Tony Canas for taking the time to share with us.
(Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures): When kids are asked in high school what they dream of becoming, the insurance industry is not one of those top 10 career choices, what brought you into this field?
Tony Canas: Like almost everybody else I fell into insurance by accident. It was 2009 and I was living in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the top insurance cities in the US, and got downsized from my job as a fleet manager with a transportation company when the economy crashed. I started applying to a bunch of jobs and it just so happened I landed at the Farm Bureau Claims Call Center and immediately fell in love with the industry.
What aspects of insurance are you currently engaged in, what does your day-to-day look like?
In my day job I’m a middle market underwriter for a major national carrier and I manage the state of Mississippi. We have a lot of verticals (energy, public entity, construction, healthcare, etc) so I end up underwriting a lot of manufacturing, retail chains, wholesales, restaurant chains and hotel chains.
You are building quite a presence through blogging at InsNerds.com, having written Insuring Tomorrow and with your speaking engagements, what are your goals with these entrepreneurial endeavors?
I spend a lot of my free time growing and promoting InsNerds, our two podcasts and marketing our book Insuring Tomorrow. I also have keep evenings a week devoted to “micro-mentoring” other insurance professionals. I help them figure out where they want to go and how to get there and see if I can open some doors out of my 10,000+ LinkedIn connections. I’ve been doing it for a few months and some of my mentees have already scored better jobs which is incredibly rewarding! Anyone can grab some time on my calendar at ChatWithTony.com, although at times the wait can be a couple of weeks.
On the writing side I work on bringing in new authors to InsNerds and writing some of my own articles (mostly about career growth) and we’d like to write a second book. On the speaking side I speak at insurance conferences about Engaging Millennials in Insurance as often as I can. The speaking invites have really picked up since the book came out and I love it!
I've talked to several people that have ideas or some level of desire to write a book, for you what was the catalyst that brought you to writing Insuring Tomorrow?
I waited five years for somebody to dedicate a book to the important topic of how to engage Millennials in our industry, and nobody did. Finally one day my girlfriend came home and told me “It’s time to write the book”. I called Carly (my co-author) and said “it’s time to write the book”. Then we just did it. I’m not saying it was easy, but after years of being passionate about the topic and collecting reference material actually getting it done wasn’t too bad. We wrote it in about 90 days and sales have been better than expected and the reviews very positive.
In that process of formulating your thoughts into a book what was easier than you expected and what was harder than you expected in that process?
It was both… What I mean is that while it was hard to sit down and write a table of contents to plan the different chapters, once that was done it was easy to write the draft for most chapters. The tough part was having to cut some of the chapters we originally planned for because we couldn’t find enough data and outside resources to really back them up. We wanted the book to leave the reader with a pretty airtight case, not just our opinion, but rather ideas backed by tons of outside research. Overall it took a LOT of time, and we stayed up late very often during the process, but it was mostly enjoyable and incredibly worth it.
What have been some of the positive responses to your book? The topic of Millennials is rather charged, has there been much opposition to your publication?
While there is absolutely a lot of “millennial fatigue”, the response has been almost completely positive. I think most people in the industry recognize that while we have talked a lot about the topic, we really haven’t solved it and we MUST solve it. Some of my favorite reviews said, “It is truly outstanding.” “Every insurance CEO should read this.” and “Essential reading for insurance executives.” One early reviewer called it, “The best book on understanding culture since Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.” The book is available at InsuringTomorrowBook.com
The subject matter that you are speaking to centers around the topic of Millennials in the workforce, as such what is one key piece of advice that first you would give to leaders working with millennials and then to millennials who are either entering the workforce or seeking to better themselves?
It’s hard to digest five years of research into a 250 page book, let alone a one hour talk and even harder into a couple of sentences, but I’d say the best way to understand Millennials is think of them as a different culture. Not better or worse, just different. And try to understand them in that context. Also, look at the numbers and realize that this will be a MASSIVE change for our industry. The business world in general has been dominated by Baby Boomers for decades, there were 25% fewer Gen Xers so they will always remain a minority, as the Boomers retire business will have to reinvent itself to survive in an era where Millennials will be the bulk of the workforce for at least a couple of decades.
What is next for Tony?
Now that’s a hard question! My plans have changed a lot over the last few years and I’m sure they will continue changing. I do know that I’m staying in the insurance industry for the rest of my career and will continue running InsNerds. Chances are many other projects that I haven’t even imagined yet will emerge from the InsNerds umbrella. I will continue being a positive voice of change for our industry and will continue my efforts to help us recruit and retain a new workforce.
Tony Canas regularly writes for InsNerds.com, he is on LinkedIn and tweets as @TonyCanas4. Insuring Tomorrow has many applications outside of the insurance industry and is available for $20, you can find our review of the publication HERE.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - More than coaching and consulting, we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer. #MTWSL
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