Safety Runs in the Family

NickFemal_Safety–  Blog written by Findorff Safety Director, Nick Femal

Recently, Findorff’s first Safety Director Sonny Femal retired after dedicating her professional career to what she called “the best Company around.” Although it is my privilege to fill her shoes at Findorff, I am honored to call that former Safety Director my mom.

Over 30 years ago, my mother brought home a slide projector to study construction safety and prepare herself to lead Findorff’s safety department. Those jobsite images projected on our kitchen wall made a huge impression on me. Even at five years old, I was in awe that my mother worked in such an unusual field. On the flip side, my father was an accountant and I knew I didn’t want the “pencil neck” title to follow me!  It’s funny what you remember.

Through the years, I became familiar with the industry, Findorff, and safety through my mother’s involvement. At home, we spent hours discussing safety hazards and corrective actions long before I knew it would become my professional passion as well. And to the dismay of our immediate family members that are forced to listen, these discussions have continued for over three decades!

Construction safety has evolved as new technologies emerged. Controlled access zones, fall-protection plans, and roofing monitors that allow employees to work in elevated positions without fall-protection are things of the past. New fall-protection technologies, anchor points, and horizontal lifeline systems, allow employees to maintain 100% fall-protection in areas not previously feasible. Findorff and its field employees are greatly benefiting from these new technologies as we work to continuously improve safety in the field.

Construction companies have moved past basic compliance to improve employee behaviors and safety cultures. Behavior-based safety (BBS) came on strong in the mid-2000s as companies saw their safety improvements plateau and incident rates were difficult to lower. BBS focuses on the science of behavior change instead of additional work practice controls, such as more personal protective equipment. Proper coaching and mentoring of behaviors have positive lasting effects on employees, who will be more likely to make safe decisions in the future.

These ideas all fuel a positive safety culture. Proactive companies striving for constant improvement, positive changes in behaviors, as well as care and compassion for employees have healthy safety cultures that benefit staff, families, clients and the Company itself. This is where the rubber meets the road for construction safety. This was not the focus of construction companies in 1984 when my mom started her safety career. Findorff’s safety efforts have constantly evolved since then. I will continue to work with the safety team to enhance practices and make Findorff the safest contractor in the Midwest. Because of this passion, I am very grateful for Findorff’s first Safety Director Sonny Femal. Thanks, Mom!