This week’s Safety All Star has been known for strength and reliability for more than 140 years. In fact, the original Samson trademark is the oldest corporate trademark still in use in the U.S. today! Now based just north of Bellingham in Ferndale, Samson supplies professionals around the world and even beyond – they’ve been a supplier to NASA since 1962.
Karma Reavis is the safety, health, and environment coordinator at Samson. And despite the company’s impressive history and her own 20 years in workplace safety, she knows one thing about workers, “They don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much your care”.
“I don’t know who first said that,” explains Reavis, “but they are words I live by. My co-workers know that about me, and they know upper-management cares about their safety as well. When a worker is injured, I’m going to be there - whether it’s a quick visit to the clinic during the daytime or a midnight trip to the ER. The first thing is to make sure that they are OK.”
Helping injured workers back to work
At Samson, caring for injured workers continues beyond their initial treatment. The paperwork alone after an injury can be confusing and overwhelming, so Reavis makes sure to help the worker get it all completed. This includes the incident report, injured worker packet, and any other paperwork the employee may ask for assistance with. Reavis then focuses on helping recovering workers into a light-duty position for as long as necessary.
“We have a very strong return-to-work culture here. In fact, supervisors know to track me down and ask if I have anyone on light duty, because those workers are often needed to help get extra work done” says Reavis. Still, she keeps close watch over claims, making sure her employees are getting the appropriate treatment. The ultimate goal is to get workers back to their original job as quickly as possible.
Safety is everyone’s job
Reavis works hard to make safety issues hit home with her co-workers. “We talk about who an injury impacts – their family, friends, co-workers – and the ways safety training can apply to life outside of work. For example, the CPR you learn here could help you save a stranger’s life or stop a child from choking.”
Samson has also implemented behavior-based safety training, in which teams of employees observe each other working and make recommendations on how to improve safe working practices.
“We have 11 groups, with 2 people per group, and they rotate through so each group sends me four observations a year,” says Reavis, continuing, “I get their reports and then we all review them. It works well because there are always positive things that each team observed along with problems or things that we can improve. Behavior-based training is a way for us all to watch out for each other and act as good neighbors to one another.”
When asked what advice she has for companies just starting a safety program, Reavis says, “Ask for help! The safety community loves to share. Join an association. Start with help from Approach Management Services to get everything launched, while also reaching out to other safety professionals working in your industry.”
Samson also holds a monthly training on various topics and each safety rep gets a copy of the weekly ToolBox Talks from Approach to review with their team.
Whatever tools you use for safety training, Reavis knows that nothing can replace the value of having buy-in of the importance of safety throughout the company. At Samson, she says “Upper management is truly invested in the well-being of employees. It’s not just the flavor of the month. And the employees feel that and respect it.”