As I celebrate my 10th year as Safety Director of SBS, I am honored to be headlining the spring newsletter. Most of our clients know that I am in charge of our in-house safety program.

I meet monthly with all crews and management, conduct monthly safety meetings and weekly random compliance inspections of jobs that are ongoing. I meet with our clients to help them understand the importance of shared responsibility when it comes to OSHA regulated roof top safety.  I guide them in the right direction to becoming compliant. My passion for safety and compassion for employees makes me very lucky to be a part of this industry.

The word “compassion” over “compliance” has been ingrained in me during my time at SBS. I am fortunate to report directly to the owners of the company. They demonstrated to me the difference between compassion and compliance when I first came on board, and they continue to do so. They are not only passionate about delivering a service that is truly superior, but also proved to me what it takes to really care about our workers’ safety, our clients’ potential liability, and the protection of the public while we work at heights in busy cities, hospitals, universities and office complexes.

In my day to day training, retraining and job stops, it often comes up that I am being a bit over zealous in my quest for safety. But, if I can help retrain a worker that does not quite get the procedure, or be instrumental in protecting employees from themselves and eliminate a potential liability for the company and our clients, my job is done. The owners of the company stand squarely behind me in my decision for retraining or dismissal. There is zero tolerance for unsafe workers, regardless of their tenure.

I recently committed my efforts into updating our in-house safety manual. This is a working document and, over time, we have made many changes in policy to reflect changes in the industry. There have been three main revisions to the manual since I have been in charge. The new revision was a concerted effort that combined old and new policies into a manual that is user friendly, in both written and electronic versions.  I am proud to say that we are now up to date and ready for another safe window cleaning season.

The owners of SBS have been dedicated to the safety of our company from its inception, as well as the industry in general. They were instrumental in the writing of the new ANSI-I-14 Window Cleaning Standard and have been involved with State and Federal OSHA rulings over the past 20 years. As the company grew, the owners knew they needed someone that shared their compassion for safety. That is where I come in. Our safety program is not simply to create a paper trail, or an effort to do what everyone else is doing, or solely because it is required of us.  Our safety and training manual is by design a working, living document that ensures us we are doing all in our power to protect our employees, clients and the public as we work at heights.

Over the years companies have come into our market and/or existing companies have “graduated” so to speak, into the high rise window cleaning sector from the residential or retail window cleaning sector.  Unfortunately ours is a fairly “easy entry” industry.

However, there is a lot more to know about working at heights than simply hiring a high rise worker. I have had the opportunity to review sections of safety manuals for these residential or franchise companies. Some are either noncompliant to existing regulations, geared towards the residential industry, or they simply provide a liability shield. This can create real risk while the “new entry” is on the side of a building.

Most folks realize that using soap and squeegees to clean windows is not rocket science. But these same people are often the ones entrusted to hang over the side of a multi-story building, set up ladders or lifts in public places, or handle a water-fed pole that reaches four stories high. This creates one of the highest potentials for liability than any other vendor visiting a site.

The Safety Director should be a person who has passion for the safe operation of the task and compassion for the person performing it. My job is not only to make sure all of our SBS workers are compliant with safety regulations, but to instill the passion for compliance in every aspect of their jobs.