Staying accident-free is largely a question of culture.
What is the secret sauce that has helped keep the United Rentals branch in Warrensburg, Missouri, accident and injury free for 20 years and counting? Its safety culture.
Ken Bahr, branch general manager, explained, “Everyone here is a safety hero. We all look out for each other.” In fact, Bahr said he’s empowered all his employees to become safety heroes.
“This job is dangerous. You have to make sure you’re doing the right thing before you start loading a piece of equipment, check all your bases.”
For Bahr, who became general manager in 2006, the memory of an accident that occurred two decades ago is still fresh. It drives his mission to prioritize safety every day. In an industry driven by uptime and efficiency, Bahr said taking a few extra moments to look before you act makes all the difference, a fact he’s drilled into his team.
The safety culture has buy-in at all levels. “Everybody walks around here, saying, ‘We’re not going to have an accident,’” Bahr said.
At a recent event honoring the branch’s safety record, he noted that 20 years accident-free comes out to just under 500,000 working hours with no injuries.
“It was all I could do not to cry,” Bahr said. “I’m so proud of our guys.”
A safety culture is about prioritizing the safety and well-being of employees above all else, said Bahr. But the benefits trickle down to the business side.
“Our big corporate customers see our safety rating. It’s a big deal to them. They don’t want to do business with a company that has a bad safety record. Why would they?”
“Our big corporate customers see our safety rating,” Bahr said. “It’s a big deal to them. They don’t want to do business with a company that has a bad safety record. Why would they?”
Bahr and his employees make an effort to pass along safety messages and advice to all the customers who walk through the doors.
“You need to drive the safety culture home every day,” Bahr said. “Walk and talk safety, and just do your work, safely, every day.”