Health Links [HL]: Why is the health and safety of your employees important to you?
U.S. Engineering [USE]: The mission of our company wellness program is to improve the lives of our team members and their families by supporting a culture of mental, emotional, and physical well-being. As a mechanical contractor, we help build hospitals, schools, and a variety of other facilities in our community. So every morning when we go to work, we remember why we strive to be the best at what we do, because we are making lives and communities better and strengthening the place we call home. The health and safety of our employees is important because our people are key to achieving this mission. And as a construction company, safety is not just one of our priorities, it's one of our core values. Looking out for one another is at the heart of what safety means for our organization.
HL: What does your workplace health and safety program look like? Do you offer both components to employees?
USE: U.S. Engineering Company has a strong focus on both health and safety components in the workplace. Established in 1893 and with a base in Colorado since 1967, we have built a strong safety culture as a leader in our industry. Our current Experience Modification Rate (EMR) is 0.5, the lowest in company history. With a full-time dedicated Safety Director, our robust safety program features: “Partners in Safety” program that allows each employee to take responsibility for safety on the jobsite ; “Believe in Zero” philosophy with the goal of keeping every employee safe and healthy every day ; Safety training classes for every new employee ; Monthly safety meetings featuring topics such as ladder use, fall safety and electrical safety, among others ; OSHA 10-hour and 30-hour training, and first aid/CPR certification ; Special safety-focused motivational speakers and safety milestone celebrations ; Safety recognition of individuals and events through internal communications and social media, including our bobble head mascot #SafetyHank who visits job sites and reinforces our safety message . Our focus on safety has been in place for decades, and we have more recently implemented a workplace wellness program. After surveying the needs of our Colorado employees, we established a seven-member Wellness Steering Committee and have implemented a well-rounded program to complement our strong health insurance benefits, Humana Go365 wellness and rewards program, and EAP components. These benefits include, but are not limited to: In-house fitness room available before, during, and after work and on weekends , water bottle filling station, and healthy fruit and snacks provided in office ; Team sponsorship for annual American Heart Association Heart Walk and various other run/walk events, and in-house events such as the all-employee/family Fab5K hosted at our large fabrication facility . This year we are adding lunch and learn topics on stress management, 10 Facets of Highly Resilient People, Eating for a Heart Healthy Lifestyle, Fitting in Fitness, etc., and are considering in-house chair massage and on-site fitness classes. We also have the Humana Go365 reward program, including the drink more "Water" challenge and redeemable points for physical activity and preventative actions . Incentives are offered such as drawings for a fit-bit, CamelBak water bottles, and tee shirts for participation in events and surveys.
HL: How will you/do you know your program is successful?
USE: Our Wellness Steering Committee routinely reviews participation and results of each initiative. We will survey employees annually and compare to our initial baseline survey. Human Resources will track medical claims and look for trends in absenteeism and other metrics. We also look for success in broader areas such as employee retention and recruiting. Because we are a construction company, our tracking of safety metrics is well established and analyzed for each project and for our region, year-to-year. One example is in November 2016, we reached the milestone of 5 million hours worked without a lost-time incident. This type of success is recognized and promoted throughout our company as it contributes directly to winning new work and enhancing our reputation in the industry.
HL: What obstacles did you have to overcome to get your program started? How did you overcome them?:
USE: We were fortunate to have a well-established safety culture in place, and had strong support from our company leadership to develop a wellness program. Once given the green light to move forward with wellness, our biggest challenge was to research and determine the best path for developing a robust program. We started out mainly hosting events and initiatives but did not have a well thought out strategy, so results were mixed and there was some resistance and skepticism from employees. These obstacles were overcome once we circled back and established a Wellness Steering Committee, surveyed our employees, wrote a mission statement, designed a wellness logo for branding our initiatives, gathered and prioritized resource and initiative ideas, and started communicating a clear and consistent message.
HL: Does your health and safety program help give back to your community?
USE: We value community involvement and offer a variety of ways that employees and our company can give back. These range from a "Wear Pink" jobsite initiative for cancer awareness in October, to supporting the American Heart Association Heart Walk and Heart Ball. In addition, we host several Bonfils on-site blood drives every year.
HL: What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a workplace health and safety program?
USE: Spend some time talking with and surveying employees to learn what means the most to them in a program, and then offer a variety of initiatives to meet their needs. You will not reach everyone, but given time and consistency (and a few awesome incentives) people will get involved and may even surprise you with enthusiasm! It helps to recruit Champions from different departments to encourage others to get involved, and in the case of our company's experience, a little inter-office or jobsite competition is very effective.