Written by Gus Wagner
Gus: Can you expand on how having a professional safety program can have a direct correlation with decreased insurance premiums and decreased chances of litigation from accidental injuries?
Michael: Worker’s compensation insurance is one of the largest expenses a business has and there is no return investment associated with this cost. Insurance companies decide what they are going to charge you based upon your Experience Modification rate, or EMR as it is known in the industry. The lower the EMR, the lower your premiums. The only way to lower your EMR is to build a history of no recordable accidents or at least keep this number as low as possible. At any given time you are evaluated on your last three years of work history. So if you had a bad year it takes three years of a successful safety program to negate the effects of a serious injury. In regards to decreased litigation, the more safety training you can provide and have the proper documentation to prove that an employee was taught the proper and safe way to do his job is invaluable. This documentation will go a long way in defending a lawsuit from an injured employee or surviving spouse for negligence to provide a safe work environment for their employees.
Gus: What are the most common safety issues that you see your clients facing?
Michael: The most common issues I see daily that in today’s tough economic environment companies are being forced to make hard choices with the capital they have to work with. Sometimes this results in a less than safe work environment. This is where I can help the most. Safety International specializes in assisting the small to medium sized companies. We can show them how to get the most value for every dollar spent on safety and how that investment can help build their business through increased operating revenue and obtaining new clients because of a great safety record.
Gus: What are some tips for building a “culture of safety”?
Michael: I think the core of a great safety culture is teamwork. We like to get everybody enthusiastic about safety from the CEO down to the entry level worker who may be on his or her’s very first job. We are all in this together and to make it work we have to be looking out for the other guy’s back, so to speak. In the companies that we manage their safety program it is completely OK for any employee to stop another employee and warn them about a possible safety hazard. There are no repercussions for doing this, it’s the right thing to do.
Gus: Can you talk about the significance of being named the Safety Chairperson for the American Subcontractors Association Midwest Chapter and what it felt like to be chosen?
Michael: I am very proud to have been chosen the Safety Chairperson for the ASA Midwest. They are the premier voice for subcontractors in the United States. This opportunity allows me to be in direct contact with business owners and their workers as well. I get a front row seat into the daily struggles and successes they are challenged with and I enjoy making a difference in the growth of their businesses.
Gus: What inspired the development of your new RapidSafe program?
Michael: There are many companies living right on the edge in our current economy. Their management has the best of intentions and wants to keep everybody working and safe, but sometimes a bad incident involving an employee injury can be devastating to their bottom line. This has a rippling effect in that an OSHA fine may follow, their insurance company will either drastically raise their insurance premiums or threaten to cancel their coverage. They also, have now earned a bad reputation in the marketplace thus scaring future customers away. Rapidsafe is designed to quickly make a course correction for them. It serves as a catalyst for a culture change and a sense for a brighter future ahead. One of the most rewarding things I see is when we implement our teamwork model into the safety culture of the company. This new attitude about teamwork begins to cross over into other areas within the company and promotes productivity and morale.