HOW AN APPRENTICE HELPED VALIDATE OUR SAFETY FIRST CULTURE

When you think about PSI, you’re likely to have been influenced by one of our innovative service offerings, like our “3-men on call” policy. For example, we never say “Sorry, we’re too busy” to handle your emergency call because we always have at least three trained techs standing by—24/7—to intercept your unplanned situation.

But behind the scenes is the other half of our story: Innovative operations that keep costs down and safety first. Of course, safety has been part of PSI’s institutional DNA since 1971 and it’s ingrained into every employee from the moment they’re hired—no matter what their job title. Read about our award-winning safety program here >>

But let me pull back the curtain and share another big part of what drives our commitment to safety.

About 10 years ago PSI joined a consortium of open shop contractors who started a self-insurance group (SIG) for workers compensation insurance. An anomaly in Massachusetts (only four or five have been allowed), a company must pass stringent criteria to belong. The group was formed by a contractors who wanted to be proactive about workers’ comp claims and the frustration of having a third-party (i.e., insurance company) manage claims which oftentimes was counter to the contractor’s best interests.

In order to belong to the SIG, first we had to strengthen our safety program with the overriding philosophy that “being safe” is paramount at all times—front picture, front page transparency. We never forget we work in a potentially life or death arena.

Second, we had to commit to monthly safety meetings and a quarterly, all-hands-on-deck Safety Day. Here’s the way Greg Brewer, our service manager, describes the activities behind our commitment.

“My job is to keep everybody up to OSHA standards. I make sure everybody wears steel tips, safety glasses, and they’re not doing anything stupid. I administer the tool box talks, which are required by OSHA. I talk about how if a guy’s in a lift, he’s got to have a harness and safety glasses, and hard hat. If he’s working in a trench, he needs a trench box. If he’s doing confined space work, we’ve got to monitor his atmosphere so he doesn’t pass out.

“We do in-house training and outside training. We have experts come in to train and certify us. Whether it’s CPR, operating a fork lift or a scissor lift, or confined space training, we make sure everybody’s competent and that they watch out for each other on the job.”

Because we belong to this SIG, I estimate that PSI has saved 20%-25% per year in premiums compared to traditional insurance rates. Our in-house administrator makes sure we manage claims fairly, but people don’t slack or file fraudulent claims. We have a lot more control over this very important element of our business than most high-risk, high-tech companies. Consequently, we’re able to funnel these savings back into more safety training and into keeping our customers’ costs down. But most importantly, it has enabled us to weave safety practices into our work culture.

PSI puts our money where our values are to keep this laser attention on safety. I personally believe in “getting the behavior you reward,” so I incentivize our technicians to qualify for their “30-hour OSHA cards,” an OSHA certification that is three times greater than what is required (techs must have a 10-Hour OSHA card to be employed in our industry.) As soon as they accomplish this goal, they earn a $300 bonus. I’m very proud to report that more than half of my techs have earned this distinction, a bigger percentage (and a bigger number of techs) than any other process piping company in our region.

Not too long ago, I witnessed a “funny” story that demonstrated just how effective PSI’s safety training is. We recently hired the first female student in the HVAC program from the local vocational tech high school as part of our co-op student program. She’s such a joy. But one day while on the job site, she was pushing a cart and tripped and fell hard on her knees.

The general contractor panicked when he saw her fall, so he called an ambulance and they took her to the hospital. One of my employees—her foreman—told me, “Pauline, she started crying and said, ‘Pauline’s going to get so mad because I hurt myself on the job!’” She was so worried she was going to lose her job, and she loves working for us.

Poor thing! I was aghast to hear that was her first concern! But that’s how much safety is ingrained into our company culture—even the apprentices “get it!” I wrote her a note and told her it was an accident and not to worry.

And that’s the beauty of our safety program: because we have one and it’s part of our daily culture, we don’t have to worry.


ABOUT PIPING SYSTEMS, INC.

At Piping Systems, Inc., we work together to create memorable relationships with our clients. Our “No Headache” policy means you can always count on us to be reliable, high-performing, professional, knowledgeable and highly-efficient problem solvers.

When you hire the PSI Team, you not only get process piping, fire protection, HVAC and electrical services, you also benefit by our award-winning safety program, our commitment to community and a warranty that goes well beyond the industry standard.

Be efficient with your time, and trust Piping Systems, Inc. to be efficient with your piping project. I promise in the long run, you will be thrilled. Have any questions? Drop us an email, psi@PipingSystemsInc.com or give us a call today at 508.644.2221.

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