At Medicine Creek Enterprise Corporation (MCEC) and our subsidiary, Nisqually Construction Services (NCS), safety isn’t just a checklist; it’s a relationship-centered mission that empowers workers to make informed decisions and champion their well-being, a process that starts from relational communication.
This approach, fostered by mutual respect, allowed NCS to achieve zero on-the-job injuries in 2022, a record the enterprise has been able to maintain so far in 2023. The success we’ve seen in this area, and in all our safety-oriented initiatives, reflects MCEC’s dedication to keeping our workers safe and protected.
“A key element to our success lies in how we communicate with our people,” said MCEC Corporate Safety Officer Dennis Barcelona. “When we have communication with our employees, we don’t want to be talking down to them because we’re all adults. They were all hired to do a job as professionals, and we want to make sure we treat them as such. When we communicate our messages the right way, we have more buy-in for our safety culture. We come along side each of our employees and empower them to make the best judgment call they can for their own safety, and the safety of others.”
This personalized approach ensures that safety becomes more than just a set of rules; it becomes a deeply ingrained value on the forefront of every worker’s mind.
Our training at NCS covers a wide array of topics, including the proper use of personal protective equipment, fall protection strategies, ladder safety, power tool safety, and the importance of noise and hearing protection, among others. However, NCS goes above and beyond generic training programs.
One of the key elements of NCS’s safety program is the job safety analysis, also known as the job hazard analysis. Before each shift and project, our workers perform a daily pre-task hazard assessment with their supervisors. This proactive analysis identifies potential hazards specific to the day’s tasks and how workers can navigate them safely. By focusing on real-time, on-site hazards, NCS ensures its workers are well-prepared to handle any challenges that arise during their work.
Kimberly Anderson, a site safety health officer working with NCS, emphasized the significance of communication in empowering workers to make safety-minded decisions.
“Safety conversations occur daily between executives, managers, safety professionals, and workers,” Anderson said. “Most importantly, they occur between our front-line supervisors and the workers who report to them. These conversations have great potential for improving workplace safety and health.”
Moreover, NCS fosters an overall culture of safety by encouraging open communication between management, safety professionals, and workers.
Barcelona stressed the importance of having one-on-one interactions as well as group discussions, enabling employees to actively contribute to safety best practices. These discussions empower workers to identify potential hazards and suggest improvements to existing safety measures, making them active participants in MCEC’s safety culture.
“We recognize that our workers are integral to the process and deserve our utmost respect and consideration,” Barcelona said. “Our employees themselves see 90% of the things that could potentially go wrong. We strive to empower them to act based on the risk they see in front of themselves using their own drive and initiative.”
Beyond relational communication, the achievement of zero on-site injuries in 2022 was also a result of meticulous near-miss documentation where workers recorded the actions on site that could have turned into accidents, recognized the hazards that existed in those situations, and addressed best-practices as they pertained to navigating those hazards before an accident or injury could occur in the future.
“We identify areas for improvement and create a plan that outlines specific goals and objectives,” Anderson said. “We strive to inspire everyone to get behind the plan and communicate their role in making it work.”
NCS’s commitment to safety extends beyond its own enterprise.
On Barcelona’s initiative, MCEC at large has implemented monthly safety meetings featuring hands-on training applicable in any work scenario. Recent sessions covered hands-on experience with fire extinguisher use, CPR readiness, and AED training, ensuring workers are prepared to handle emergencies both at work and in their personal lives.
By empowering all our employees to take ownership of their safety and providing them with the tools and knowledge to do so, MCEC and NCS have made the safety of our employees a mission that goes beyond regulations and compliances. Each employee is an active participant in their own well-being, working in congress to ensure a safe and secure work environment for everyone.
As our organization grows to support the Nisqually Indian Tribe even further, our commitment to empowering safety will continue to be a solid foundation for our success. With a focus on open communication, continuous improvement, and a shared vision, MCEC remains dedicated to fostering a workplace where every worker can thrive, confident in the knowledge that their safety is a collective priority.