Industrial fabrication and manufacturing is dirty, dangerous, and difficult work. The size and type of work completed in our shop and in the field carry inherent risks, and creating a culture of safety is critical. Providing a safe, accident-free working environment keeps our teams safe and our projects running on time.
GSM Industrial is serious about safety, and the results speak for themselves. Our Experience Modification Rate (EMR) is 0.83, which is 0.17 below the industry standard of 1. Our Tool Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) is 4.8, which is below the industry’s average of 6 and industry standard of 5. In April 2019, GSM Industrial was awarded the Safety Award of Merit by The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, recognizing our ability to keep team members and jobsites safe.
A Passion For Safety
While our highly experienced team contributes to our safety success, GSM Industrial also employs a full-time Safety Director, Jim McDevitt, to proactively address safety concerns. Jim has been the Safety Director for nearly 15 years, and he has worked in the safety industry for more than 40 years. He holds credentials as a MSHA Trainer, OSHA Authorized Construction Trainer, and Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST).
But for Jim, safety is more than the certifications – it’s about creating a safety mindset that carries through every aspect of life.
“What drives me or what motivates me is not just safety at work. I’ll often talk about safety outside of the workplace because as dirty, dangerous, hot, and everything else that goes into a weld shop or a fabrication installation crew, the most dangerous part is not even in the workplace,” said Jim.
According to Jim, the mindset you have regarding risk and safety in everyday actions will determine how safety-focused you will be at work. His passion is to get team members to think about safety even when driving or completing tasks at home.
“Half of my safety talks are on things you can do, habits you can form to protect yourself 24 hours a day, not just the 8 or 10 hours that we are working together each day,” said Jim.
Consistent Action Yields Results
Jim’s role balances proactive safety considerations with consistent policy reinforcement. Reminders of safety procedures are posted around GSM Industrial’s shop and “you can’t throw a stick without hitting a sign,” added Jim. But safety doesn’t stop with signage. Each day, either Jim or our Vice President of Operations will do a “Safety Walk” around the facility which gives them a chance to greet everyone personally and remind employees of potential safety issues.
Jim also hosts GSM’s safety meetings and Toolbox Talks covering a wide range of topics including driving, overhead crane safety, forklift safety, maintenance, cleaning, and the 5S program, which is a method of keeping a place organized and safe through 5 processes: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.
Continued training keeps GSM employees up-to-date on safety protocols. Each year, the entire field crew of 30-plus people are brought in to receive eight hours of safety instruction. While this is technically a lost day of work, we see it as a gain if it helps to keep our team safe on the job.
Safety is Everybody’s Job
GSM Industrial invests in creating a safety culture, but it is ultimately up to each employee to embrace safety as they work. To empower employees to do this, Jim has set up safety committees to elicit any concerns seen on the frontlines as work is being done.
“When you involve everyone on the team, then their voices are heard. And (team members) really do raise the best concerns for us to act on,” said Jim.
Each person at GSM Industrial has the authority to stop work at any time if they feel there is a risk or unsafe situation, and that message gets reinforced at internal safety meetings.
Adjusting Safety for COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic threw many companies for a loop as they quickly tried to adapt their working environment for the threat of the virus. GSM Industrial, however, was ahead of the curve by having a written pandemic plan that Jim put together in 2019. Previously, when the world was threatened by Ebola, Jim knew there could be a risk for GSM Industrial employees, and he wanted to be prepared.
“Not only did we already have a plan written when this hit in February or March, we were prepared to add a COVID-19 program that basically outlined everything the CDC and OSHA was saying that employers needed to do,” said Jim. GSM Industrial shared their plan with other companies that were scrambling to create their own COVID-19 pandemic plan.
Serious About Safety
Many companies talk about safety being important, but for GSM Industrial, we reinforce the value of safety on a daily basis. We go above and beyond standard requirements, and we respond proactively to safety situations before they become a problem. As a result, our employees are kept safe and productive, and our customers’ projects stay on schedule.