In a company of roughly 800 employees, there are bound to be some differing opinions. But when it comes to safety, the men and women of Blythe Construction are in total agreement: nothing is more important.
It’s a focus that’s demonstrated at every level of the company, and embodied by a statement often made by Blythe’s President and CEO, Alan Cahill: “Safety must never be sacrificed for the sake of production or profit.”
In fact, Blythe has increasingly used safety as the lens through which it views other aspects of its operations. Formed on the idea (as well as plenty of industry research) that investing in safety improves productivity, the approach has taken over in recent years. This spring, for example, Blythe shut down its construction and paving operations for an entire day for its third International Safety Day event, attended by every one of its 800-plus employees.
Recently, the company’s focus on safety was recognized with achievement awards from two of the construction industry’s leading organizations—the Certificate of Safety Achievement from the N.C. Department of Labor, and the Achievement Award for Safety Excellence from the Carolinas AGC Foundation. The comparative awards use industry standards from the entire United States, as well as North Carolina specifically, to measure the safety progress of the companies that receive them.
Together, they reflect Blythe’s bone-deep commitment to safety. They are also, according to Blythe’s Safety Manager Ross Peters, evidence that employees throughout every rank of the company are taking ownership of safety policies.
“To truly create a culture of safety,” he says, “inclusion is critical. It can’t be just the responsibility of 200 managers, because the reality is, they can’t be everywhere at once to enforce safety procedures. Instead, it requires the commitment of every individual on the team.”
To instill that commitment, Blythe’s Safety Department has implemented several routine field safety communications, including daily Job Safety Analysis (JSA), weekly field safety talks, and monthly all-hands meetings involving job-site safety leaders. The result is that no task is completed without some form of safety assessment or discussion. Add to that programs like “Near Miss” Reporting, which challenges every Blythe employee to report at least one safety improvement suggestion, and the reason for the recent safety awards becomes clear.
“Awards like these are for every member of our team,” Peters says, “because everyone has a role to play, and everyone contributes.” In particular, awards from the Department of Labor and Carolinas AGC are meaningful, he says, because of the common safety goals that Blythe shares with the two organizations.
“At the end of the day, Blythe and groups like OSHA or DOL, we want the same thing: to keep our employees safe. Sometimes [regulatory organizations] get a bad rap, but for companies like us, they are a great resource. At the end of the day, the more people there are committed to the same target, the better.”