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OpX, safety go hand in hand

October 17, 2017 -  By

I have a photograph in my office that shows a BrightView team member working on a client site in Louisville, Ky. It’s a beautiful photo of a landscape that shows the skill and dedication of the crews who installed and maintain it.

At first glance, I’m proud of the photo, but on closer examination, I have a major issue with it. I have an issue because our team member is working without his full complement of personal protective equipment (PPE). I keep the photo to remind me that there can be no compromise on safety—not ever and not anywhere we do business. More than 22,000 men and women work at BrightView. For each of them, our goal every day across every BrightView business is simple: “No one gets hurt.”

At BrightView, safety is a passion and a big part of who we are. It is also at the heart of an initiative we launched earlier this year, a center of operational excellence called OpX, which develops and implements BrightView standards across every dimension of performance in landscape maintenance, including quality, productivity, client satisfaction and training. Our intent was to establish a field-focused work group that allowed the maintenance organization to develop national standards and share best practices, tools and training to accelerate our performance in the same way we have driven our safety program.

OpX begins and ends with safety. While we will never stop striving for a zero-injury workplace, we are proud of the performance we’ve been able to achieve. So far in 2017, our Occupational Safety & Health Administration Recordable Injury Rate is 1.62, which represents a 46 percent improvement for us year to year and is more than 60 percent better than the average incident rate for the industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Importantly, not only is the frequency of injuries decreasing at BrightView, but the severity is down also. Lost workday injuries are down 70 percent year to year, positively impacting productivity and reducing the cost of claims. Overall, the safety trajectory at BrightView since the Brickman and ValleyCrest merger is a bright spot. Incident rates are down more than 50 percent since 2014.

How have we been able to achieve this kind of safety performance? The specific ways we execute our safety program are outlined here, but safety starts with larger strategic and cultural commitments.

Safety is a core value. All BrightView team members in positions of responsibility understand our commitment to safety. They also understand their role in achieving a safety-conscious culture. Importantly, our leaders understand their performance as managers is measured—and rewarded—in part, on the safety performance of the teams under their authority. There is no gathering of BrightView managers, including our executive leadership team, that does not include a discussion of safety performance and a celebration of safety success.

Safety is a habit. As we move closer to our aspiration of creating an injury-free workplace, the raw material of safety—training, practices and equipment—should become habit. In that kind of culture, safe practices are routine, part of the normal rhythm of our workday. Working safely simply feels right.

Everyone is an advocate. One feature of every healthy and safe culture is advocacy. In the interest of achieving zero workplace injuries, rank or title have no meaning. Even as president of the nation’s largest landscape maintenance company, if I step onto a worksite without some piece of PPE, I can promise you that I will hear about it. Advocacy means looking out for one another, and there is no hierarchy around safety.

Celebrate success and keep score. We track our progress in safety constantly. Every week, an enterprisewide safety report is distributed that shows every significant injury, its cause, location and remedy as well as a running tally of workplace incidents. This report is reviewed with our crews and is posted in every branch. Every operational leader in BrightView participates in a monthly national safety call in which those incidents are discussed and best practices are celebrated. Each of our regions conducts additional safety calls each week that cover best practices, bright spots, detailed root cause investigation reviews of any injuries that have occurred, field observations and forward-looking areas of focus for the week ahead.

It has been said that safety is good business, and it is. But for BrightView, safety is something far more important. A commitment to safety is a promise we make to our teams. We care about you. We will equip you and train you and guide you for one reason above all: We want you to go home to your family in the same condition that you came to work.

To learn more about BrightView’s safety practices, click here.

Herold, a 35-year industry veteran, is president of BrightView Landscape Services. In addition to BrightView’s landscape and snow maintenance teams, he leads the company’s golf and tree care businesses and its environmental health and safety group. He previously served as COO of BrightView Landscape Services and COO of The Brickman Group.

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