J.F. Brennan Uses Safety Observations for Insight into Job Sites

December 11, 2015 Krysten Powers

JFBrennanDivingJ .F. Brennan’s safety program has always prioritized getting its employees involved.

The company accepts voluntary field observations submitted by employees from job sites and work areas, which it then distributes to the whole company to discuss.

But getting these submissions on paper, often days or weeks after the observation occurred, left little time to address important issues as they were happening.

J.F. Brennan, a marine construction, environmental remediation, and harbor services company with job sites in all 50 states, is often spread pretty thin.

“The biggest obstacle we face is that we are so spread out,” Vice President of Health and Safety Luke Ploessl said. “We have so many crews all across the country, but we still only have about 400 employees. So we might have four- or five-man crews working in 30 to 40 different locations at one time.”

The company has weekly, corporation-wide safety meetings to discuss the observations the safety department has received. Everyone from the field workers to the CEO of the company can call in to the meeting.

“The fact that we can bring all of our work together and tie it together to talk about at our weekly global meetings is really huge,” Ploessl said. “Those are really important to us. It’s the one thing that really ties all of our divisions together.”

But it was often weeks after a job was finished that they would get around to discussing that job’s observations.

But when J.F. Brennan adopted HCSS Safety, with its mobile Safety Observations feature, that lapse began to disappear.

“The ability to do those observations on mobile really changed things,” Ploessl said. “It’s a huge upgrade. It’s cut down a lot of time in our safety department because we essentially just send them out. It saves my admin person at least four hours a week.”

Before HCSS Safety, Ploessl said his field workers would submit them on paper, either retyping them later to email in or turning them in at the end of a week or a job.

The majority, he said, were scanned at a later date.

“The quality of the submittals we get has gone up,” Ploessl said. “People are much more likely to take photos, and it saves the guys in the field a couple of hours a week. They’re construction guys – they don’t want to do all that extra work.”

Ploessl said the safety observations program is strictly voluntary, and employees are not required to submit a single observation or meet a quota.

However, the safety department still receives approximately 70 to 80 observation submissions each week. J.F. Brennan has kept its Experience Modification Rate (EMR) under a .7 over the past 5 years.

“We use the safety observations so heavily that sometimes it has replaced our near miss reporting,” Ploessl said. “We just want the information coming in, so we’re not too stern with how it’s classified. But it’s allowed us to get out in front of things more quickly.”

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