Routine safety procedures include weekly safety meetings and special training topics specific to a certain site on an as-needed basis. Iglesias is bilingual, speaking fluent Spanish and English, so all safety training is offered in both languages.
Iglesias also enforces the utilization of high quality, effective safety equipment. Workers must have a double-legged lanyard and proper personal protection equipment. Employees are expected to wear their Form Works-issued safety equipment, purchased through Form Works at a deep bulk discount price. Iglesias says when employees pay for their own safety equipment they take better care of it. If an employee loses safety equipment, they're expected to replace it; if an employee brings in a worn out piece of safety equipment, Form Works replaces it.
Iglesias says the success of the safety program lies in its proactive approach to safety. "If there's a safety violation on the jobsite, instead of simply writing someone a violation slip we show them what they did wrong to help them avoid it in the future," he explains. There's also accountability in the program, and employees know Iglesias won't shy away from firing workers with a disregard for safety.
The safety changes implemented at Form Works resulted in a new safety culture throughout every level of the company. Jobsites are safer, and so are the workers. Form Works has seen considerable monetary value in the program also. "The safety changes haven't been cheap, but they have been worth it," Marks says. "Insurance costs have dropped a lot. Now we're eligible for insurance programs we weren't previously eligible for."
Marks adds the company's incurred losses have been cut to 25 percent of what they were before the emphasis on safety, helping Form Works drastically improve its experience modification rating (EMR). An average EMR is 1, with anything below 1 above average. In 2003, Form Works had an EMR of 1.8; today that number has dropped to 0.74.
An outstanding safety record has also proved a positive in winning job bids. "General contractors like subcontractors who do safe work," Marks says. "It puts a general contractor at ease to known we're going to take care of safety issues on the jobsite."
The ownership group at Form Works is pleased with the success of its safety initiative and will continue to drive their employees to do safe work. "I feel like we're in control of safety," Marks says. "There's no longer a feeling that we have to accept accidents, and beyond accidents, that control continues with handling any accidents that do happen instead of being at the hands of others. Now everyone knows that all work has to be performed safely, and that's not negotiable."
Finding its place in the industry
Form Works' leading roll in safety is just its most recent development in creating one of the leading commercial concrete construction companies in the country. When the ownership group bought out its previous owners and incorporated Form Works in 1988, they expanded its services from only formwork to offering customers a complete structural shell and everything in between, such as excavation for foundations, formwork, reinforcement labor and materials, concrete labor and materials, craning, and concrete pumping.
The expanded service offerings allowed Form Works to accomplish another goal of dramatically increasing its annual sales. By adding $3 million in sales a year for several years, it went from a company that never did more than $10 million in business to a $65 million per year outfit.
In-house business management processes, such as the addition of more project management personnel to track job records and help ensure on-time delivers for all product and materials needed, have allowed Form Works to become more efficient and profitable. One practice it has found beneficial is maintaining a slim equipment inventory. "We rent most things, so we don't own a lot of equipment. We don't want to worry about the upkeep," Marks explains. "It also gives us the flexibility to utilize the right piece of equipment on a job, instead of forcing the use of a piece of equipment we own that might not be appropriate."