Here at Innovative Refrigeration Systems, safety isn’t just some buzzword or project parameter. We firmly believe that a pro-active commitment to safe operation is the only way to run our business responsibly and effectively. Since Day 1, we’ve always emphasized and reinforced safe, sustainable methodology, and nothing exemplifies our commitment quite like the Innovative Safety Committee Initiative.

Innovative Safety Committees are small, hand-picked groups of staffers who meet once a month to conduct a two-way dialogue with a member of the management team. Our committees can make timely recommendations on how to keep our manufacturing or construction teams operating smoothly, safely, and effectively; conversely, management can share news and protocol changes with key employees.

Innovative currently has two safety committees, both of which have now existed for more than a year. Our home shop was the first to convene, in January 2016; our field team put together its own committee a bit later, in October 2017.

Vice President of Construction Bob Curran has a hand in our field committee, and Vice President of Manufacturing Keith McGinnis played a part in setting up our shop squad, but both groups are directly overseen by our safety manager, Matt.

Matt didn’t come up with the initial model for our safety committees, but he was the one that revived the program and reshaped it into a staggering success.

At first, the committees were driven purely by volunteers. Recently, though, the structure has become more vertical – members must be appointed by their respective VP, and membership is a mandatory step on the way to becoming a foreman.

“Before, we had pretty good luck with members buying in,” Matt said. “But you can tell the members are even more active now, with the extra incentive.”

The presence of a pro-active, vigilant body that’s focused on safety and sustainability has been a huge benefit for Innovative’s overall building & manufacturing process.

“Over the past two years, I’ve seen a great development of our safety culture,” said Will, who works as one of Innovative’s continuous improvement managers. “That’s first and foremost due to Matt’s engagement with our construction and manufacturing teams.”

Matt sits in on every meeting, providing updated news and notes relevant to committee members and their peers. Conversely, the committee makes recommendations to Matt on how we can continue to improve the safety of our operation.

Thanks to our great employees’ attention to detail, as well as their investment in the safety process, our committees have given us plenty of actionable information to improve our day-to-day operation. We’ve adopted lightly tinted safety glasses that are good for work both inside and outside; we’ve also changed harnesses, posted safe working hours, barricaded extended scissor lifts, rewritten our fall rescue plan, instituted a shop page system, and reconfigured our toolbox layouts, among numerous other changes.

“Our safety committees are a great avenue to get additional safety education to our employees,” Matt said. “At the end of the day, our committees improve the drive to make safety a priority.”