Crew Chiefs Take Lead on Safety

Leading landscape contractors with solid safety records talk about how they empower their foremen to help ensure jobsite safety.

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Jeff Pizzuti, facility supervisor at Vila & Son’s West Palm Beach, FL, branch – Weekly safety meetings are held every Tuesday with all employees at all branches. I also have safety committee meetings every other Tuesday with all operations supervisors, account managers and foremen from all of our divisions. We go over any accident reports, discussing ways we can avoid these types of things in the future. The foremen are very involved in these discussions.

At Vila & Son, foremen are also require to take first aid training and adult CPR classes. To create a highly safe company, you need accountability. Our employees are assigned their own safety gear; we then keep an inventory for replacing worn-out items or if a guy forgets something one day. Foremen run through a safety checklist in the morning to make sure everyone has what he or she needs.

We also think it’s important to reward employees when they do operate safely. We have BBQ’s and raffles quarterly when there are no accidents. Guys can win some pretty neat things like big-screen TV’s.

Jesse Stegman, water conservation manager and chair of the safety committee at Willamette Landscape Services in Tualatin, OR – When we hire large groups of employees, as is the case when the growing season is in full swing, we conduct one- to two-day job task and safety training courses. When we hire one or two employees throughout the year, though, we assign this training to the crew chief and/or area supervisor.

During an employee’s first couple weeks of employment, we always encourage our crew leaders to work directly with new employees to continue their training. In addition to this on-site training, crew leaders are responsible for overseeing all the tasks being performed by their crews. If a foreman encounters a situation where someone else is misusing or abusing a piece of equipment, the foreman is trained to stop the operator immediately and correct their actions. Depending on the situation, additional training or discipline may be required.

Tony Rosado, president of Rosado & Sons Inc., Landscape Construction Co. in Westborough, MA – Every morning our foremen fill out a mandatory safety checklist for vehicles, equipment and personnel. We also have half-hour safety meetings once a week.

Foremen also fill out progress reports when crew members are observed in violation of our safety policies. The reports are given to one of the company owners, and a physical meeting with the employee often takes place to determine what further action may need to take place.