President's Message - Jul '23

President's Message,
One of the things I like best about the MBCEA is the access to so many smart people who do what I do, only better. Most active members will say, “the value to my business is worth so much more than the price of membership.” The key word of course is active. Like any association, group or committee, you get out what you put in. Our conference roundtables are where the active members shine.
If you have never been to our National Conference, picture a large room full of contractors and erectors – you know, people just like you – where anyone can pose a question about anything: safety, training, modular erection, whether to put the roof or the walls on first, etc. And everyone else can answer. Of course, we have a panel of experts on hand but these sessions are open mic, anything goes. And man oh man, do we hear great stuff!
This summer I have been highlighting some of the things we heard at conference this year. This month let’s focus on Safety.
To be effective, safety needs to be built into the culture of the company.  It can’t just be a book on the shelf; everyone needs to be on the same page. If the boss or owner does not take it seriously, then no-one will. One contractor shared that he has a 100% hard hat policy, no exceptions. Of course, there came a day that he arrived at the jobsite with an important client and did not have a hardhat. He had to ask permission to come on site. This infraction haunted him for weeks. But the important thing was that he asked the foreman before entering the work zone. He owns the company so he could have just marched right in, but he respected the rules and respected the authority of his foreman.
Another important part of company culture is to make sure everyone is on the same page. Take the time to educate your team about incident ratings; make them understand recordables and OSHA violations. Bring it home to them by sharing how these figures affect your ability to secure projects – which impacts your ability to give them work/keep them employed.
One novel risk mitigation tactic was shared by Dunn Building Company. Seth Collins reviews old errors or things that went wrong at his pre-plan meetings. The team then discuss how to prevent similar things from happening on this job. I can imagine some good natured ribbing about past mistakes but by repeatedly talking about them, you can ensure that they don’t happen again.
Love this idea: Tucker Cope, C. Tucker Cope & Associates, makes “wanted” posters (e.g. FBI most wanted criminal) of any guy with a safety infraction. This visual embarrassment is a strong incentive to not do anything wrong/dumb but also a reminder to the co-workers to pay close attention to the wanted guy to minimize any future transgressions.
Another company uses a point system. You are given 1 point for any infraction, 10 points equals a termination. Workers can eliminate points by taking classes or doing something right. At the end of the year (or project) anyone with zero points gets a raise or bonus.
We always talk about safety and training as two separate things but a well-trained crew is by definition safer because they know and understand the proper way to do things. Training specific to our craft Metal Building Assembly has always been limited. The MBI Quality and Craftsmanship is a good introduction but it is very rudimentary. The Manufacturers and Vendors offer training unique to their products but core metal building assembly training has always been limited. Until now!
MBCEA, MBI and NCCER have embarked on a new initiative to create a complete Metal Building Assembly Training program that goes deep enough to qualify as a formal apprenticeship program and is robust enough to create craft workers skilled in the unique needs of metal buildings.
Safety and building integrity will be emphasized in every module. The program will be available in Spanish and English. It will not rely on textbooks and other outdated ways of learning but will be presented in a slick interactive online learning experience with a hands on component either in a class room or in the field. If you want to get involved, please contact us.
What are you doing at your company to promote a culture of Safety? Have an idea to share, we would love to hear it.
Jen Heimburger
President, MBCEA
President, Heimburger Construction, Inc.