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Creating a Culture of Safety a Recurrent Theme at PestSure Meeting

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More than 70 PestSure members gathered in Las Vegas Sept. 14-16, for PestSure’s annual “Safety and Loss Prevention Meeting.”

Brad Harbison | September 26, 2011

LAS VEGAS — An important function of PestSure — an insurance association comprised of pest control operators — is to assist its members in reducing their insurance claims by providing them with the information and tools necessary to create a culture of safety. It’s for this reason that 70-plus PestSure members gathered in Las Vegas Sept. 14-16, for PestSure’s annual “Safety and Loss Prevention Meeting.”

During the course of the conference, attendees heard safety and loss prevention presentations from PestSure staff, members and vendors. Additionally, several PestSure members shared lessons learned about safety during 15-minute “Safety Oops” presentations.

“PestSure is more than just a mechanism for buying insurance. It’s a given that we are going to work to get you competitive prices and react to what is going on in the market. The real differentiators with PestSure is in loss prevention and how we handle claims,” said Todd Burke, executive vice president of PestSure. In May 2010, Burke replaced the retiring Rex Jennings, who had run the PestSure program since 1986.

An example of a PestSure company that has invested time, training and resources into infusing safety into its company culture is Rose Pest Solutions, Troy, Mich. Gene White, director of Education and Training, Rose Pest Solutions, reviewed some of Rose’s efforts in this area. White says Rose tries to “slip” safety training tips into every aspect of the business.

Hiring process — “Before people come to work for us we’ll ask questions like, ‘Can you lift 50 pounds?’; ‘Can you climb ladders?’; ‘Can you crawl in crawlspaces?’” said White. “Those are part of our job descriptions – it’s not discrimination. We want to make be sure they can do the things we need them to do. It’s part of the safety culture.”

Company policy manual — “Have it in writing because we all need reinforcement,” White said.

Education and training curricula — “We put it in a requirement for a safety component in our monthly district training programs,” said White.

Newsletters and Office Communications — “Every district office and main office we have has a safety bulletin board where we put up new ideas, new information and new safety laws and regulations and they are maintained by people at the office,” White said

Job planning and job duties – “Before we start on a job, we sit down and a part of that job planning is a required safety component. ‘What part of this job is unsafe and what can we do to fix that safety issue there?'"

Send it home to the spouse — “Do you want quick action? Send a newsletter home with a message to the spouses of your employees: Here is our safety information that we need your spouse to know.”

Incentive programs — For example, Rose Pest Solutions allows its employees to take a payroll deduction to buy Shoes for Crews, which are slip-resistant shoes.

A significant focus of the PestSure meeting was on driver safety. For years, PCOs have realized the benefits of fleet tracking systems.Pam Blackburn of Myers Pest and Termite Services, shared with attendees processes that have been successful for Myers' use of its fleet tracking system, including:

  • Getting the commitment of your entire team.
  • It must be properly introduced to your drivers. In other words, explain that the system is not simply a means for watching them, but rather a tool that can beneficial (e.g., should they be involved in an accident that was not their fault) It must be utilized and communicated as a method to control costs and liability in many areas of the business.
  • Service managers are required to log in and review all events once a day even in the event has no score attached to it
  • Coachable events must be discussed in person, not via phone and must be resolved in the system within 48 hours of the event
  • Drivers must watch the video along with the manager and is asked to critique himself in writing on the printed coaching sheet.
  • Branch managers must also review all events daily and get involve with high risk behavior and repeat offenders.
  • E-mail alerts have been set up to notify managers of high risk behavior such as collisions, traffic violations, falling asleep, cell phone usage, etc.

Two safety areas of concerns for pest management professionals are attics and crawlspaces. Frank Fowler, McNeely Pest Control, Winston-Salem, N.C., reviewed some of the hazards found in these areas. One piece of advice Fowler provided attendees with was to “not be afraid to walk away" from a job that involves an attic or crawlspace that is simply too dangerous. Fowler also showed slides where he encountered potentially dangerous electrical situations (e.g., wires and moisture) and, before proceeding with the job, he called the electric company and had them send out a worker. Other “take-home” points from Fowler included: (1) Take off your gloves and booties when going up ladders so that you get the best possible traction. If you are wearing a protective plastic suit with attached booties, cut them out. (2) If you encounter a swarm of stinging pests (e.g., European hornets) in the attic, turn off your flashlight and lie still on the ground.

Another highlight from the conference was a theatrical role-play put on by the PestSure staff titled “The Life of a Workers’ Compensation Claim.” The play followed worker’s compensation claim from beginning to end and reviewed how all the various entities are involved. The cast included a (fictitious) service technician and company rep and reviewed the claim from the following points of view (1): a claims examiner; (2) a nurse case manager; and (3) an attorney.



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