Award-Winning Builder Sets Safety as a Benchmark

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[caption id="attachment_16406" align="alignright" width="300"] A green build custom home by Living Stone.[/caption] Sean Sullivan AMB, CGP, CAPS, BGRE is no stranger to home building awards and certifications. His company, Living Stone Design + Build, near Asheville, N.C., has won home design, green building, young professional and many other types of awards from NAHB, the North Carolina HBA, Houzz and others, including the 2018 SAFE Award for Single-Family Builder Safety Program of the Year. As his green custom home building company grew, adding more employees and more job sites, Sullivan knew he needed to turn his attention to safety. Superintendents managed Living Stone’s safety program, and while there were no problems, Sullivan wanted to be proactive. "We grew to a critical mass where there was too much going on across different sites," said Sullivan. "I knew I needed a dedicated Safety Manager." Sullivan found just that in Michael Reeves, a former police officer. Reeves consulted with Sullivan’s OSHA contacts and with NAHB safety sponsor Builders Mutual in the creation of a comprehensive safety program for Living Stone. That safety program is now an integral part of the company’s operations. Not only is it in the employee handbook and a feature of the new employee onboarding process, but Reeves runs monthly safety meetings to review performance, emerging issues and general safety topics. Safety is also often a topic at monthly meetings with trade partners. It’s those trade partners who are most often accountable under the safety program. Reeves does his own safety inspections on Living Stone jobs sites. If he sees a violation he delivers a soft warning to the worker or workers and offers retraining if required. A second violation is taken to the owner of the vendor or subcontractor – as most workers on a site are trade partners – where Living Stone’s safety policy is carefully reiterated. "Fortunately, we have never had to deal with a third violation," Sullivan noted. In that event, he said he would be forced to reevaluate the company’s relationship with the subcontractor. That level of severity is necessary to keep a home builder and its employees, subcontractors and partners safe on a job site. For those wondering if such a safety program is for them, Sullivan has just one question: "Could you survive a $15,000 OSHA fine?" "Home builders can’t afford to not have a strict safety program," says Sullivan. "Besides the money, could you live with a serious accident on one of your sites?" If your home building company already has a strong culture of safety, enter the 2019 SAFE Awards today for free and receive some industry-wide recognition. If you need help with your safety program, consult the NAHB Safety Program Toolkit for a model program and help getting started. For questions about the SAFE Awards or NAHB safety resources, contact Rob Matuga.    

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