How a Siding Company Leveraged Safety to Create a Culture of Confidence

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[caption id="attachment_17599" align="alignright" width="300"] Jamie Oliver, President of SouthEnd Exteriors, right, accepts the NAHB 2019 Safety Award for Excellence for Siding Contractor Safety Program of the Year.[/caption] Over the past three-and-a-half years, the leaders at SouthEnd Exteriors have cemented a proactive safety mentality into their company culture. This effort not only prevents accidents, but also yields a more productive workforce and increases collaboration among their teams, said James Nelson, Vice President of Construction for SouthEnd Exteriors.   The company’s attitude toward safety and their overall transformation were key factors in its selection for NAHB's 2019 Safety Award for Excellence (SAFE) in the Siding Contractor Safety Program of the Year category.  SouthEnd Exteriors, based in Charlotte, N.C., relies on a range of methods to train its employees to adopt a safety-first mindset. This includes on-site tool box talks, classroom instruction, field training, and documented inspections by a third-party auditor.  The company also holds regular training that covers all safety measures in construction, from OSHA standards to industry-specific concerns such as fall protection and jobsite compliance. Its goal is not simply adhering to regulations, but eliminating hazardous situations from all work environments.  Buy-in IKey to Safety Success  The biggest hurdle in the company's shift toward a safer workforce was getting buy-in from management and install crews. The crews had to learn that slowing down or stopping work for safety checks would lead to more productivity in the long run.  "The initial challenge of getting people to understand 'why' was a lot tougher than we thought it would be. We actually brought in a consultant that gave us some feedback that not all people see the same things as a safety hazard," Nelson said. "Most people are resistant to any change, including me, especially if you're working with a professional who’s experienced in this line of work and you’re trying to change their habits. Once they get over the initial hurdle, they do find efficiencies in how we’re asking them to work. There have been multiple occasions where our safety initiative has prevented a significant accident." Any time there is an incident, such as a fall while wearing a harness, the team uses it as a learning opportunity. SouthEnd Exteriors gathers their business partner leaders, holds roundtables and studies best practices.  Creating a Culture of Confidence  With 60 plus field managers and 200 plus crews throughout Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, Nelson said the safety initiative directly benefits more than 700 people. The program also has a positive ripple effect.    "It encourages interaction between our field management staff and our business partners, our install crews, and building that relationship has been good for both parties. It helps us develop our field management staff and it helps us provide a better product for our customers," Nelson said. "Once they get over the uneasiness of putting on their harness every time they step on a roof then they’re much more confident ... That leads to more productivity." Start with Safety 365  SouthEnd Exteriors' proactive safety attitude is one that everyone in the siding industry can copy, and James Hardie has resources that can help you get started. The Siding Contractor Safety Program offers free, customizable, and comprehensive safety plans that focus on areas that are often cited by OSHA, including: fall protection, scaffolding, ladders, and personal protective equipment.   "James Hardie is committed to Zero Harm in all aspects of our business and we want to recognize industry partners like SouthEnd Exteriors who share this dedication to safety," said Matt Piper, Technical Manager for James Hardie. "These free safety resources can help you prevent accidents from happening in the first place, and help you build trust and confidence with your employees and crew partners."

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