Safety Pays Off at Poppoff, Inc.

A concrete contractor introduces a safety incentive program for employees.

This month's Cover Story is a profile of Poppoff, Inc., a commercial and industrial flooring contractor in Moxee, Wash. The company's commitment to safety is evident in everything it does, and in 2010 they put their money where their mouth is with a safety incentive program.

Poppoff, Inc. President Mike Poppoff started emphasizing safety in the early 1990s, about the same time he put the company on a path for growth. Under Mike's direction the company became an Associated General Contractors of Washington (AGC) Safety Team member in 1993. Ten years ago the company had a 0.5 MOD Factor, but after a series of loss-time accidents several years ago its MOD Factor increased to 0.9

When Mike's son, Matt Poppoff, started with Poppoff, Inc. in 2008, Mike gave him the title of safety director and tasked him with heightening the safety culture at the company and bringing that MOD Factor number down again. Mike says he also gave Matt the job as safety director as a way to send a message to the craft-level employees at Poppoff, Inc. that safety is a priority, with employees knowing that one day Matt will take over the family business.

"We had a decent safety record when I came on board in 2008, but it has gotten better," Matt says. "I did that by educating the employees on the reasons why we want to stay safe and the benefits of staying claim-free - those reasons include everything from their paychecks to the reason we get jobs."

Since Matt took over as safety director, the company has had only four non-serious incidents. Each foreman holds a weekly Toolbox Talk and the Safety Committee, which includes foreman and craft-level workers, meets once a quarter.

After seeing the positive strides the company made in the realm of safety over the last two years, Matt implemented a safety incentive program in mid-2010 to help reward employees for their efforts. Under the new program, after 90 days claim free employees earn $1 a day for every day the company continues to remain claim free. After 180 days claim free, that incentive bumps up to $1.50 a day, and after 365 days the safety incentive jumps to $2.50 a day.

At the end of 2010, crews were 161 days claim free. And the company's MOD Factor is about 0.7 and heading in the right direction.

"You can replace equipment if it breaks down, but we have a responsibility to our employees, and our employees have a responsibility, to make sure everyone goes home to their families at night," Mike says. "That's the foundation of our safety program. And it can't just come from management - everyone has to be in on it."

You can read more about Poppoff, Inc. starting on page 28. Enjoy our World of Concrete issue, and be sure to stop by and say "hi" during the show. We will be in Booth C4139.