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  • Writer's pictureSteve Jackson

Workplace Safety Equals Success at PermaCold

Safety is always important for PermaCold, but it’s more than just a goal. Safety is an ongoing commitment we have tried from the very beginning to ingrain into our company DNA. As such, my goal here is to take a deeper dive into the broader mission and impact of safety here at PermaCold.

Mid-May marked “North American Occupational Safety and Health Week” and June is officially “National Safety Month 2023,” promoted by the National Safety Council. So, what better time to take another look at safety in terms of how it impacts all areas of our success – far beyond the very important goal of keeping everyone healthy and safe at work.

Lots of businesses say they’ve made safety a company priority ‘from day one,’ but in many cases that’s just marketing talk. In too many startups the focus is almost entirely on getting more jobs, faster. Obviously, this approach can mean safety is either overlooked in the rush to grow, or at worst is knowingly compromised due to pressure company executives and managers feel to hit externally imposed deadlines. A famous example of that was the Challenger shuttle disaster in 1986.

That NASA engineers, some of the smartest and most talented in America, wound up failing to protect their people in order to hit a deadline shows how skirting safety leads to tragic outcomes. Safety can’t be a decision made by leadership; it has to be fully integrated into a company’s culture. If that’s accomplished and reinforced throughout the growth of a company, safety can be a foundation for greater success, not “extra work” or something that delays project timetables. Entirely the opposite, in fact.

One of PermaCold’s motivations to put a Safety Program into place at the very start was to avoid costly workers’ comp claims, which seemed to be a constant problem at the companies we’d all worked at before. They were an expensive distraction, but they also slowed and prevented projects getting accomplished on time and on budget. Just as important, injuries impact (and often add to) everyone else’s work and can tank team morale. Jobsite safety cannot be taken for granted, and we make sure we don't.

The goal of the PermaCold Jobsite Safety Program was to make sure we did things better, and that our team members got home safely every single night. In the early days there were a number of things we did that weren’t common in the industry at the time. Consistently wearing safety goggles for instance. Guards on grinders, premium protective gloves, safety-colored shirts and vests, and keeping our vehicle fleet in top operating condition – all of these were things PermaCold adopted and made mandatory long before they became standard industry practices.

I started out as our very first Safety Manager, and over the years we’ve had a history of strong safety leadership and an incredible record of success. The implementation of our now indispensable Safety Committee was incredibly important in establishing a culture of continual safety improvement. Our company leadership also remains as committed as ever. Ron Coffey and Brian Cronk have made training more important for our team than ever before, from Ammonia safety classes and certifications to OSHA training and much more. We’re developing the most safety-qualified teams in the industry, and the results of that can only accelerate our success. After all, safety grows our business and wins us projects.

Our Workers’ Comp Mod, reviewed by our insurers every year, has been strong from the start and continues to provide us with thousands in savings (due to big premium rebates) and an excellent competitive advantage. When it comes to competitive bids with other general contractors, our safety Mod can be the final deciding factor for a customer. Our reputation for workplace safety means our partners know their own teams are safer working with PermaCold than with someone else, and that brings in more business and more referrals.

An extra focus on safety doesn’t slow PermaCold’s performance or growth, it accelerates it.

Since our founding in 1993 we’ve seen our “Safety DNA” grow stronger, and it continues to keep our teams safe and our business thriving. We’ve grown from one slightly overextended original Safety Manager (me) to now having an entire team driving us forward (thank you for all your hard work and dedication Safety Committee Members!). Of course we’ve had a few accidents through the years, but we always work to understand why they happened to and put new practices in place to make us safer in the future. We can all be proud of our record and our reputation for safety – and it’s the responsibility of each of us to keep that PermaCold safety culture strong and make sure every one of us gets home safely every single night. As I remind myself and others with every email I send: Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Well!


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