'Rewards and reprimands' program effective at Cruickshank

Cruickshank Construction is the gold winner in the building and construction category for the 2013 Canada's Safest Employers Awards.

Building roads, bridges and infrastructure is a competitive business, and doing more with less is always a challenge for companies like Cruickshank Construction. But when it comes to the safety of more than 500 employees, Cruickshank does not compromise.

Health and safety officer Jamie Guthrie plays safety advocate from the outset of every project to ensure safety gear and training are included in the budget and process.

“By providing input into bids and projects, my team and I can anticipate and deal with safety issues before a job even begins,” he says.

This helps eliminate risk and saves time and money in the long run.

“Everybody is looking at safety records nowadays. Our customers know that we’re doing a good job and we’re focused on safety before we start our day,” says Paul Charboneau, general contracts supervisor at the Kingston, Ont.-based company.

Improving Cruickshank’s safety record is the impetus behind initiatives that have paid off in impressive results. These include attaining one million work hours without a lost-time accident and reducing incidents throughout the year. In August — the most dangerous month — incidents dropped by 75 per cent.

The hot summer months take their toll on construction workers, with the good weather driving deadlines for building projects.

“August is traditionally the worst month for accidents and serious incidents because by then, our workers are tired,” says Guthrie.

To raise awareness and change the incident pattern, Guthrie and his team implemented a pre-summer safety event. During this employee fair, the company shuts down operations and provides demonstrations, exhibits, speeches, vendor displays and training.

“Activities such as this reflect our proactive philosophy, and employees appreciate that it is for them,”
says Guthrie.

Another program that keeps safety top of mind is “Rewards and Reprimands.”

“This points system — which translates into cash — acknowledges workers who practise safe work habits, make suggestions, contribute ideas or volunteer their time,” explains Guthrie. “For every workweek without an incident, an employee gets one safety point, so every Christmas, they receive a cash reward of accumulated points.”

Other opportunities also exist for ramping up the points, each worth $2. The reprimands part deducts points for unsafe work practices.

Safety is embedded in the Cruickshank culture because everyone knows safety is the top priority and is non-negotiable, says Guthrie.