Safety Always

Best in class performance nets Texas ready mixed and aggregate operator preferential treatment at insurance policy renewal time

This past year has been extremely difficult for industry producers aiming to control insurance costs, with many experiencing dramatic increases in premium renewals and coverage. Umbrella policy spikes of 100 percent to 400 percent have not been not uncommon. 

Then there’s Permian Basin Materials in West Texas, whose Property and Casualty renewal premium went up only 6 percent. According to Marsh McLennan Agency broker Jeremy Sandusky, “PB Materials is operating in the top 1 percent for the ready mix and aggregate industry. We appreciate their passion and how they embrace technology. Their investments in safety pay. We are thoroughly impressed with the ‘Safety Always’ culture that is embraced by all employees, from the management and leadership down.” 

So how has the integrated producer been so successful in keeping rates down? “It needs to become a way of operating from the top, once you believe that Safety Pays and embrace what it means to truly be a safe company you can have dramatic improvement,” says PB Materials CEO Chris Crouch. “We operate under the watchful eye of OSHA, MSHA and the DOT, and by doing our job well, we have made their job easier.” 

Permian Basin Materials has emerged in the past decade as a key ready mixed and aggregate player in energy-rich west Texas.

Health, Safety and Environmental Manager Doug Larch assesses PB Materials’ safety history and accident prevention methods producing results that matter to a broker like Marsh McLennan. “Chris and I started the same day back in 2017, and that day we sat down to talk about our safety culture. We decided our approach wasn’t just ‘Safety First,’ but rather ‘Safety Always.’ We initiated the program with signage and a renewed commitment throughout the company promoting ‘Safety Always – An Adventure in Culture Change.’ We actually changed the company logo that day.”

“Safety Always” has paid off, garnering PB Materials numerous accolades, 14 Mine Safety & Health Administration Certificates of Safety among them. 

The producer has likewise earned National Safety Council recognition for reaching over 1 Million Safe Work Hours from late 2018 to the end of 2019. On the heels of the 1 Million Hours award was recognition for operating over 500 consecutive days without a lost time accident. With company statistics that rival those of larger producers, PB Materials has undoubtedly remained on the right track.

Looking at what works, Chris Crouch and Doug Larch both point to empowering everyone in the organization with regard to safety. The idea that safety is everyone’s job has been the key. It means when something is unsafe, the employee in the field can stop work, no questions asked. Training, both formal and on the job, is another key. Employees in all work groups receive regular training in the form of daily focused safety topics, Monthly Safety meetings, and Annual Safety training. Even orientation of new employees is two days and heavy on safety training. New team members are trained on company trends, initiatives, and industry best practices. Ideas are shared and incorporated into the “Safety Always” approach that PB Materials takes with regard to their work. New Defensive Driving programs have recently been added for both commercial and non-commercial company drivers, which only serves to bolster the already outstanding training protocol. 

The Pro-Vision Fleet Dash Camera deployment has yielded mixer drivers exoneration and clarification regarding road incidents, while also contributing to PB Materials’ insurance premium cost management. The Pro-Vision hardware captures a 175-degree field of view.

Other innovative programs are also a part of the safety success at PB Materials. Each employee receives training in the field on assigned tasks. Mining team members receive task training for all equipment and processes they are exposed to. Ready mix division counterparts receive task training and the required over-the-road Certificate of Road Test. Another groundbreaking and wildly successful approach to accident prevention is the G.O.A.L. (Get Out and Look) card. Drivers actually fill out a card that requires them to inspect the area in which they will drive or dump at the customer site. The idea that the driver “gets out and looks” is key to enhanced safety and performance, notes Larch, adding “This has saved the company from countless incidents on customer jobs.” 

Another improvement to safety operations and performance is the use of onboard cameras, capturing video footage on both sides of the windshield, in all of the company’s over-the-road commercial trucks. Crouch had used the technology at another producer and notes how well the cameras have worked at PB Materials, and their immediate impact on insurance claims and liability reduction. He took the implementation personally and introduced the technology to the drivers. 

There was some initial pushback, but quickly the drivers were able to see how video footage can save them from a ticket or court appearance. Video captures are also used in safety training. “In the past, the big company truck is usually targeted as the one at fault at the scene of the accident,” Crouch observes. “Now we can go to the tape. Having our drivers cited has been dramatically reduced and providing clear evidence to the insurance company has helped as well.” 

PB Materials also uses a system called Velocity EHS to catalog, track and analyze safety throughout aggregate and ready mix operations. The system generates dashboards for management and creates transparency where all incidents are immediately circulated through email alerts. “Having such a granular approach to what’s happening within the company on a daily basis continues the development of awareness and operational improvement,” Crouch affirms. 

The Velocity EHS platform provides the PB Materials safety team a full accounting of ready mixed concrete and aggregate operation metrics.

PB Materials also works with a number of local medical clinics and occupational medicine practitioners to build health and safety awareness throughout its workforce and to get employees the very best care if they are injured at work. “It is common for us to escort an injured employee in need of medical attention to provide extra support from trained staff and work with the medical community on potential light duty options,” Larch explains. “We found many doctors or clinicians are quick to send an employee home not knowing we have light duty options. We have found this has dramatically improved our Lost Time incident profile that insurance companies use in their evaluations.”

The bottom line with regard to PB Materials’ safety performance is a vision for innovation and commitment to raising the bar every day. As the producer looks to the future, the picture is bright. Management is committed to excellence and innovation throughout the company. The PB Materials safety team is very capable and continues working on great things. Last year was not the first where it saw insurance premium increases set below those of its contemporaries. With the safety performance demonstrated in recent years, PB Materials remains a concrete and aggregate operator to watch. 

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