When an employee at Columbus Capital Fire Protection Co. slipped on a job and twisted his ankle, he couldnt drive to the pharmacy to fill his prescription for pain medication.
He didnt have to find a relative or neighbor to do him the favor, however; Capital Fire Protection sent help. This act of generosity actually saves the company money in the long run.
To us, when it comes to safety and an injury, there is no limit were going to go all the way, says Troy D. Gattshall, the companys director of purchasing and safety.
In fact, since the company gave it renewed focus in 1995, Capital Fires safety plan has reduced injuries and time away from work for employees so much that it cut the companys workers compensation premiums by $10,000 in just two years. In 1997, Capital Fire received a Governors Excellence in Workers Compensation award for its efforts.
Capital Fires primary focus is protecting its 62 workers from being injured in the first place. To do that, employees at every level work together to identify safety hazards and take precautions while theyre installing sprinklers and fire alarm systems.
Before each job, the estimator, project designer and fitter, or system installer, meet to discuss possible job hazards. Dangers include falls from ladders, being struck by falling objects and working in confined spaces where employees could be trapped or injured.
This meeting, whether by phone or in person at the job site, gives estimators a better idea of what a fitter is getting into and helps designers know what they can do to make a job easier and safer for the fitter.
All three of them have to go through the job together from estimating the job to signing off on it, Gattshall says.
The site-specific safety focus teams, along with other safety programs at Capital Fire, have reduced the number and severity of injuries at the company, resulting in less time off work for employees.
Having a better safety record has improved Capital Fires rating with the Bureau of Workers Compensation by nearly 50 percent between 1995 and 1998. That means money savings: Capital Fire paid $78,000 in workers comp premiums in 1995 and reduced that to $68,000 by 1997.
Weve worked with them for about the last five years, says J.C. Benton, BWC spokesman. Theyve taken a real aggressive approach at training for their employees, including bringing all their field employees in for a 10-hour training class run on their company time. Weve worked with them to incorporate a written safety program and assist them in updating it on a regular basis.
Capital Fire also takes advantage of programs offered to businesses through the bureau, Gattshall says, such as on-site surveys, a group discount with Builders Exchange of Central Ohio, and counselors and a video library available through the bureaus Division of Safety & Hygiene.
If an employee is injured on the job, Capital Fire managers and employees are prepared.
The last thing we want our employees to do is worry about problems, says Gattshall, explaining the companys procedures for handling injuries:
- Any time employees are at a job site, they know the location of the closest medical facility.
- The company keeps track of employees medical preferences, including the name of their family doctor.
- If an employee suffers a severe injury that needs immediate attention, we drop what were doing, Gattshall says.
Fellow employees call the company to tell safety staff the medical facility where the employee will receive treatment. Employees at the companys headquarters access injury packets prepared ahead of time for just such emergencies with the appropriate paperwork to send, for example, to third party administrators or medical providers.
They fill out the paperwork and fax it to the medical facility.
The intention is before the employee walks into the medical facility, they have in their hands everything they need. Our guy, all that he has to worry about is getting medical treatment, Gattshall says.
Not only do these steps help ease the process, Gattshall says, they also are corporates way of showing concern for employees.
We want them to get back to work as soon as possible. It benefits us to get them back to work. Its a benefit to them to get back to work, he says. We dont want bad feelings about anything. We want them to know were looking out for them.
How to reach: Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, (800) 644-6292 or www.ohiobwc.com.