For the second year in a row, Summit Custom Homes, Kansas City’s largest home builder, has been awarded the National Association of Home Builders/Builders Mutual Insurance Company Safety Award for Excellence (SAFE) for its commitment to the improvement and continuation of a strong safety program.
The 13-year-old company, which caters to move-up and active adult buyers in the Kansas City area, employs 42 people and built 226 homes last year. BUILDER talks with vice president of construction management Deon Cross about how the company has integrated safety standards into its operations.
How has jobsite safety
become such a big part of what you do?
Safety has always been important but as we grew we knew we needed to take extra steps to ensure all the people on our sites understand and comply with our standards. When we were small it was relatively easy to keep a close eye on all our communities but, as more and more people worked on our home sites each day, it became apparent we needed the assistance of a third-party safety professional.
What are the top five
ways that you work to ensure jobsite safety?
1. We have hired an outside safety consultant to help us with routine inspections, Dave Redlin with Progressive Environmental & Safety Consulting Services. (We call him Safety Dave.) He provides random inspections on our jobsites each month and rotates from community to community. He speaks with our trade partners to educate them and he sends us a formal written review of each inspection.
2. Safety Dave also conducts ongoing training with our employees and with our trade partners. We are planning another class later this year. We meet in a conference center and he presents a formal class to ensure we are all up to date on new rules. It is also a refresher for basic safety standards and PPE.
3. Our onsite project managers are always watching and teaching. While making their rounds from house to house, if they observe someone out of compliance they address it immediately.
4. Prior to every frame start our project managers meet with the framing foreman who receives a refresher on our safety requirements and a reminder to follow OSHA standards.
5. Every trade partner we hire must first provide details of their safety program. We want to verify they have instituted their own plan. If not, we work with them to put them in touch with the necessary resources, such as Safety Dave, so they can establish a safety program and receive training as needed. We then discuss our plan to make sure they understand our safety requirements as well.
strategies cost you more money?
Yes but no. We pay for the third-party inspections and training but it is a fraction of the costs that might be associated with a jobsite injury. In our minds it is an investment that pays off with a safer environment. Money aside, it’s simply the right thing to do. We want all our employees and trade partners to go home to their families in one piece every day.
Why is a commitment to
safety critical for everyone who works in the industry?
No one wants to go through the trauma of a serious injury, and in today’s reality of fewer people working in construction, companies cannot afford to lose qualified workers. One could argue that companies are only managing risk and liability. That is true but as I mentioned above, everything else aside, it’s simply the right way to treat people and the right way to run a business.