Achieving Global Safety Standards
By Steve Guglielmo
Springer Equipment Company had an outstanding safety program. At least that’s what President Ted Springer and Safety Director John Woodall believed. And they had a good reason to think that. The company had very few lost time incidents and its Experience Modification Rate (EMR) was .78, resulting in a substantial 22-percent discount on insurance premiums.
But in 2011, when some of Springer’s largest, international customers began using a third-party safety compliance service called ISNetworld, the company was surprised to hear that it would be required to almost completely revise its existing safety program.
“We had been continuously improving for 22 years and striving to be at the forefront of safety,” says Springer. “When we were met with the ISNetworld criteria, we were kind of rocked back in our chair. In essence, we had to completely start over. ”
ISNetworld is a safety compliance service designed to connect clients with safe and reliable contractors. Customers, most of whom are Fortune 1000 companies, use ISNetworld to standardize contractor management across multiple sites and geographic regions to communicate requirements and expectations and exchange data with other internal systems. The goal of the program is lower incident rates and higher compliance numbers.
“We had programs that we did training on but they were very core safety programs,” says Woodall. “When we became a member of ISNetworld through the requests of our customers, we began to understand that the level they require from us and the complexity of the programs would require a change in thinking on our part.”
A New Program
And so Woodall, who was the company’s Operations Manager before moving full-time to Safety Director, began researching the safety industry, using resources like the National Safety Council, Keller Online and the OSHA website.
“From our standpoint, it made more sense to take somebody that was familiar with our industry and teach them about safety than it did to take a safety expert and train them about the material handling industry,” says Woodall.
After hundreds of hours of research, Woodall began putting together the frame of a best-in-class safety program in the material handling industry.
“The first step is to educate,” Woodall says. “But more importantly, you have to have a commitment from the entire company, from top leadership on down. If you don’t prioritize safety, it becomes an afterthought and it can’t ever be an afterthought.”
Woodall and Springer set up a safety team that included Woodall, the company’s operations director, parts manager, service manager and sales coordinator.
“We needed input from every department in the company,” Woodall says.
Springer adds, “Just a few years ago we had a 10- to 12-page safety manual and we were at the forefront. Now, we have a 150-page safety manual and a 752-page training guide. It’s been a tremendous amount of work, but we’re going to continue to offer best-in-class service, comply with the safety regulations set forth by our customers and continue to be professionals so that we can offer our customers the best possible service.”
Reaping the Benefits
Though it has required a remarkable amount of time and effort by the entire Springer staff, the company is beginning to reap the benefits of being lSNetworld compliant.
“We advertise locally in our APR that we are ISNetworld compliant. We tell our customers that,” says Springer. “Our salespeople and product support folks go out and advertise when we’re talking to customers. We’ve become proactive professionals in the safety world and then advertised that this is who we are. It gives our customers and prospects a much higher level of confidence in our abilities.”
Additionally, the company has found that holding themselves to these stricter, global standards opens up their client base considerably.
“Having our programs adhere to global standards puts us in a significant position to do business with anybody, large or small,” Woodall says.
Finally, Springer Equipment has taken what they have learned about compliance and has begun holding their contractors to a higher standard.
“We try to ask of them the same thing that our Fortune 1000 clients have requested of us,” Springer says. “We’re moving some of that liability onto our tire supplier or our battery supplier and basically saying, ‘We need a little bit more protection than just being named additional insured on your certificate of insurance.’ It protects us from a liability standpoint.”
To learn more about ISNetworld standards and how Springer Equipment has built a best-in-class safety program, make sure to attend the 2014 MHEDA Convention, May 3-7, 2014, at the Loews Portofino Hotel at Universal Orlando in Orlando, FL. Ted and John will be giving a presentation entitled “Contractor Management” at 9:30 a .m. on Tuesday, May 6. ISNetworld will have a Help Desk available after the presentation.