At Walker Concrete Co., LLC, safety is top of mind for all employees and managers, every day. Using “zero accidents” as a baseline, the company works to infuse a culture of safety across its entire workforce.
At weekly tailgate meetings (held at all the company’s plants), for example, Walker Concrete gets everyone involved and onboard with the cause. “Safety isn’t just a top-down directive from our managers and supervisors,” said Mark Orler, General Manager, Sales. “Our goal is to get all of our employees contributing to the flow of information and identifying issues that managers might not necessarily recognize as safety hazards.”
Implemented by Walker Concrete’s Operations Resource Manager Larry Goodson, the safety program follows Vicat Group’s corporate policy and includes the use of large signs that enforce numerous “unconditional rules” that must be followed. “Our goal is to change habits permanently based on those rules,” said Goodson, “rather than just doing weekly meetings that address problems as they arise.”
In addition to the signage, the company also provides informational wallet cards to drivers and other personnel; holds safety meetings to review PowerPoint and/or written materials, and talks to employees about the unconditional safety rules.
Employees that neglect to follow the safety policies and procedures are given verbal warnings and can ultimately be written up and suspended for their actions.
In terms of training, Walker Concrete regularly evaluates its facilities and equipment and uses the information to enhance safety. A recent review of its fleet, for example, revealed the potential for “blind spot” accidents when making right-hand lane changes. After discussing the issue with other companies in the industry, Goodson suggested a different placement of mirrors in order to give drivers a better view of their vehicles’ blind spots.
Walker Concrete’s commitment to safety extends out to the road, where truck operators closely watch drum speed rotation and ensure that they don’t exceed specified levels. “If maximum drum speed is too high, the trucks can flip right over during a turn,” said Orler. “We reinforce this point and ensure that our drivers understand how to operate their vehicles safely.”
Walker Concrete is also using the Smith System Collision Avoidance Program and a “train the trainer” approach to further enforcing its culture of safety. “The trainer hosts class time and drive time, and then grades the driver and provides feedback,” said Goodson. “We’ll continue to enhance that program and move it forward.”