Borger Group of Companies is the gold winner in the building and construction category for the 2014 Canada's Safest Employers Awards
Bill Borger, president and CEO of Borger Group of Companies, is extremely proud of the company’s safety record due to the nature of the work his employees perform.
“It is an incredibly dangerous business we’re in: tons of overhead loads, icy ditches, icy ladders, 300 pieces of machinery running around. And the heat in the summer can reach 35 degrees,” he says. “To me, safety is a leading indicator of the entire organization’s health. That’s how I measure it, so I put a lot of effort into it.”
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Borger says safety awareness starts with a company-wide weekly phone recording broadcast to employees on 101 company cellphones. This lively message from the president, with cameos from the management team and foreman, is fun and interactive with trivia contests, jokes and riddles, safety tips and company news. The call also announces the winners of the weekly “SPC” award. Prizes for these awards — named for the company’s priorities of safety, production and cost-savings — are often “Borger bucks.”
“Then, winners can go on our portal and buy anything, from Katy Perry tickets to an iPad to high-end safety gear,” Borger says.
The company strives for safety, quality and production — in that set-in-stone order. Workers are trained, first, to create a safe work atmosphere; second, to aim for quality; and third, strive for performance, says Hassan Hussein, safety manager.
“Safety must be achieved first; then they can carry on and start work.”
The company creates a new safety committee every year, he adds, which results in an ever-increasing number of safety conscious workers. Their feedback is used to develop an annual action plan.
“The safety committee has really helped to drive the safety message home and given employees a feeling that they can drive change in the company,” says Hussein.
Training at the management level is another central focus. Managers learn how to conduct safety meetings on job sites and effectively investigate incidents. Regular safety meetings and hazard assessments are key elements of the safety culture.
At meetings, managers review incidents and near misses, identifying direct and indirect causes, and later relay that information to workers. At daily toolbox meetings, foremen give safety refreshers and site-specific hazard assessments.
Currently, Borger says, the company is aiming for 2,500 days with no time lost across its three divisions: transport, earthworks and underground.
“We’re now at 2,300 days, so it will happen around November. Then I’ll make a big announcement. When we hit 1,500 days, we took 630 people to a CFL (Canadian Football League) game, a Western final,” he says. “Everyone here takes pride in reaching these milestones.”