The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association has launched a new safety program aimed at reminding industry personnel of the critical need to follow proper safety procedures at all times. Unveiled at NRMCA’s ConcreteWorks conference held earlier this month outside Orlando, FL, the program, labeled ThinkFirst, is dedicated to reinforcing a culture of safety across all facets of the ready mixed concrete industry.
NRMCA’s Safety, Operations and Environmental staff noted that, over the past 10 years, the Top 10 most frequently-cited safety violations, as per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, have barely changed. This is not only true across all industries for both construction and general industry, but unfortunately, is also true for the ready mixed concrete industry. While the concrete industry continues to see annual declines in incident rates industry-wide, lending validation to the notion that the industry is and continues to become safer, the same faults and violations continue to occur year after year .
"This latest NRMCA initiative is the industry’s next great program, which will focus on the true backbone of our industry, the workforce,” said NRMCA President Mike Philipps.
“ThinkFirst correctly places the industry’s priority of safety at the forefront,” added NRMCA Safety, Environmental and Operations Chairman Dale Kotzea of GCC.
“Many companies in the industry have for some time had their own individual safety focus. ThinkFirst finally creates a unified, industry-wide focus for all companies,” said NRMCA Safety, Environmental and Operations Vice Chairman Mike Brekken of Cemstone Products.
Partly as a result of this scenario, NRMCA’s Operations, Environmental and Safety Committee was renamed the Safety, Environmental and Operations Committee in mid-2017. This somewhat simple word switch has allowed the association and industry personnel to take a better, more focused look at safety within the industry. Throughout this process, certain questions became clear, such as: Can we do more? What aren’t we doing? How do we better spread a safety message? Why isn’t safety front and center on more companies’ websites?
The answer was to create a thoughtful, coordinated, uniform, understandable and relevant industry-wide safety campaign. This idea has been addressed through numerous safety programs and educational efforts over the years but never before via a single encompassing message. The phrase ThinkFirst leads immediately to a question, “What is ThinkFirst?” Before anyone knows it, he or she has entered into a safety discussion; something lacking from many other safety slogans that directly tell you that safety is first.
But the idea of ThinkFirst isn’t solely psychological, although this can certainly play a part in furthering safe work environments and practices through behavioral changes. The real goal of ThinkFirst is to make sure that ready mixed concrete workers end their day the same way they started it, alive and healthy.
In order to achieve these goals, ThinkFirst is designed to be an industry-wide focus dedicated to creating and enhancing a steadfast culture of safe work practices by emphasizing thoughtful and strategic actions throughout operational tasks. Safe operations require an industry’s workforce to ThinkFirst. The first action should be a safe action. This focus, in turn, decreases injuries, illnesses and fatalities while increasing worker retention, positive workplace morale and an unencumbered manufacturing process.