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Mastering Safety... continued from previous page
        A key finding was the employees actually wanted more safety trainings and refreshers on topics like fall protection and working in
        confined spaces.
        “If you’re using safety to punish and oppress the workforce, that doesn’t do anything for you. If you’re using it the other way, to help
        create policy change and actually make things easier for them and safer for them and they see you as an advocate, that’s what you
        need,” Brian said.
        Why it’s not enough to be compliant
                                                     While some companies gloss over safety altogether, others consider it but
                                                     simply think of it as a box to be checked off a list.
                                                     That’s where the key different between safety and compliance comes in.
                                                     “They’re two different things. Yes, they play in the same arena. But there
                                                     are things you have to be compliant with for insurance reasons or OSHA or
                                                     regulatory agencies. But that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with
                                                     safety,” Brian said.

                                                     He’s seen compliant companies that have terrible safety records, and
                                                     companies that are nowhere near compliant that have fantastic safety records.
                                                     Checking a box leads to safety concepts that go in one ear and out the other,
                                                     without sticking around in a meaningful way.
                                                     Picture a dartboard, Brian says.
                                                     “If you take a look at a dartboard you’ve thrown darts at before, have you ever
        missed the wall or missed the target completely and hit the wall? Yes. Okay. So it’s never what you intended. It was just a bad day. If you
        compare that dartboard to a business model, a lot of companies operate by trying to just stay on the dartboard—remain compliant. You
        hit the dartboard somewhere. Our approach is that the bullseye is the only acceptable approach. That is our target, period. We simply do
        not tolerate any deviation from a bullseye effort every single time. Does that guarantee that we are going to hit the bullseye every time?
        No. But on our bad days, we still wind up on the board.”

        Compliance and safety are often conflated, but compliance is really just the bare minimum. If you really want to be safe, you need safety
        to be a cultural value of your company.
        It comes down to teaching employees how to bake in safe practices to routine tasks, so that they become second nature.

        The importance of onboarding

        When it comes to both safety culture and company culture as a whole, there is
        one key period that has a big impact: the employee onboarding process.
        This is where you have an opportunity to make your company culture and
        values clear from day one.

        In his current role at Alston Construction, Mike says he brings in the CEO to
        talk about the company culture in his own words during every new employee
        orientation. He thinks this top-down approach is a missing ingredient in many
        Alston is also very clear about setting expectations for employee behavior
        when it comes to things like speedy client communication and problem-solving
        on the job site.

        Here’s one example from Mike:
        “Say you’re on a project out in the field and there’s a big problem. This is a major thing, we’ve got a big goof-up. How do the people
        in the field respond to that? Do they cower away in the corner and go, we got to figure out who to blame this on?” asks Mike. “That’s
        one way. The other way is, let’s get everybody together and figure out how to solve this thing. And then let’s bring in the architect, the
        surveyor, everybody. Let’s bring them together and go look, we got a big problem. Let’s figure this shit out. And then let’s take a solution
        to the owner as quickly as we possibly can. Those are two very real things that happen a lot. So that story we tell, we don’t want to be
        [scenario] A. We want to be B.”
        At the end of the day, Mike said that most problems are the product of poor decisions, and successes are the product of good decisions.
        Since you can’t constantly look over your employees’ shoulders, you have to trust them. And that means giving them the vision and
        training they need to make the right calls.
        “The construction business is tough,” Mike said. “We can have people at the entry-level of the company make a five-minute decision

        8 The Nevada Traverse Vol.49, No.1, 2022
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