The ultimate success or failure of a business is determined by its profitability. There are many factors that determine profits and success. Safety is a big factor for success in the construction industry, but how much attention is given to safety on the job and what are the consequences? “Safety is a huge focus for us,” states Tom LeDuc. “If an employee is injured on the job it can affect their income, their personal life and family. They can’t get the work done and then the customer is unhappy.” In addition to these pitfalls there is the issue of Workers’ Compensation costs. “In our industry the premiums have increased by 40% to 70% this year on the average. It’s hurting everyone,” says LeDuc.

On January 11th of this year, the North Coast Builders Exchange hosted its Workers’ Compensation Trust Retreat at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa. Workers’ CompTrustees were encouraged to invite field employees to attend in hopes of broadening the overall awareness of safety issues, claims, costs and resulting losses from injuries that occur on the job. Tom LeDuc, a Trustee, invited Kevin Delong, an employee since 1985, to attend with him. “I think it was a real eye-opener for him,” reflects LeDuc. “I saw things from the employer’s point of view,” recalls Delong, a foreman, who is in the process of becoming an estimator in the residential department.

This summer, LeDuc got what he was hoping for. After Delong had time to think over the opportunity, LeDuc appointed him Director of Safety for the company. Early on Delong asked LeDuc, “How far can I take this?” LeDuc answered, “As far as you feel is necessary.” Aside from leading the weekly Monday morning Safety Meeting, Delong organized a Safety Committee. He selected key people from each department of the company: Jim Hopper, Residential Superintendent; Steve Garner, Warehouse Manager; John Dunn , Commercial Superintendent and John “Zach” Zachensky of Super Service . “Everyone on the committee moves around from job to job in their daily duties so they see what’s going on from the safety standpoint also.”

Some of the early goals that Delong and his committee have set for the Safety Program are: To understand and comply to OSHA safety standards, take safety suggestions from employees, report near misses on the job and make sure that employees look out for each other while working together on the job. An incentive program that rewards safety-minded employees with hand tools for personal use has been started.

LeDuc is adamant about safety on the job. At a recent Foreman Meeting he told those in attendance, “If you see a dangerous safety hazard on the job, I don’t want you there. It needs to be reported and taken care of first.” A safer company has a much greater opportunity to be a successful company.