Doug Lanier shared his own experiences revamping his company’s safety program as a cautionary tale for Best of Success attendees. Lanier is the president of Collis Roofing, which has more than 400 employees in its four Florida offices. In 2012, business was booming, the company’s safety record was excellent and the company was named Roofing Contractor’s Residential Contractor of the Year. Then OSHA found unsafe conditions at three jobsites in three different cities, and Lanier’s world was turned upside down. “OSHA combined those three violations into one big violation, and Collis Roofing was on the national news as a major OSHA violator,” he said.
Lanier called attorney Trent Cotney and safety consultant Keven Yarbrough and asked for help getting his safety program back on track. Lanier shared the lessons he learned as part of his discussion titled “Practical Tips to Improve Safety.”
Cotney informed Lanier the company’s safety manual needed to be updated. The company had added new types of commercial applications to its offerings, as well as windows and siding, and these procedures were not covered in the manual. “Make sure your safety manual is up to date,” Lanier advised. He offered the following tips for reviewing the safety manual:
- Check to make sure that your safety manual covers all scopes of work you perform.
- Make sure that every employee has received a safety manual, and that you have a written record of who has received it.
- Ensure that your safety manual includes a disciplinary policy and implement it consistently over time.
- Have your attorney review the manual to make sure it is written correctly and protects you.
Simply having a manual is not enough, Lanier reminded attendees. Thorough training for new hires and ongoing safety training for all employees is essential. Every year, all Collis Roofing employees must retake the company’s comprehensive safety class and complete the written exam. The company also works with Yarbrough to conduct role-playing exercises on safety procedures and how to handle OSHA inspections. Lanier also tapped a third-party company to randomly inspect jobsites to help ensure everyone remains compliant at all times. He also recommends that contractors take advantage of new technology including lightning detectors and OSHA’s free heat index app to keep workers safe.
When it comes to a disciplinary policy, Lanier advised business owners make sure it is something you are prepared to follow every time. “If you can’t live with it, then you will be hard pressed to enforce it,” he said.
“Should you ever be investigated by OSHA, you want to be able to show consistency and fairness,” he said. “Carefully create the disciplinary action with people that not only know your business, but know your personal values and tolerance to ensure your success. And keep a written record of all disciplinary action taken.”