Safety First

Employees at Bush Industries on Mason Drive beat the heat recently with a companywide ice cream social during lunch hour.

The ice cream social was hosted in celebration of the facility’s one-year anniversary of no lost time as the result of injuries sustained on the job.

In recognition of their commitment to safety, employees were treated to ice cream and their choice of toppings. According to Jim Garde, chief executive officer of Bush Industries, rewarding employees for adhering to safety protocols is a culmination of the company’s emphasis on the topic of safety.

“Safety is a very important thing for any manufacturer, but especially here in New York,” Garde said. “In New York, we are burdened by a lot of historical issues with workers’ compensation and different things like that. So, safety is good for employees, but it’s also good for the business; so it’s win-win.”

Garde said any yearlong benchmark with no lost time is observed by the company, which had a two-year celebration last summer.

“We treat safety with the importance it deserves,” he said. “So this year, we’re having a one-year anniversary with no lost time, and prior to this, we had a two-year anniversary. We’d love to have this happen every year, and just be normal business.”

He said that, while incidents that require looking in on still occur from time to time, no employees have lost days as the result of those incidents.

Mike Zolner, senior manufacturing director and 34-year employee of Bush, said the company has had success with minimizing the severity of its incidents by changing employees’ attitudes toward safety.

“We’re trying to change the behavior of our people,” Zolner said. “When they’re here, we put checks and balances in place to get safety on their minds so that they become more proactive about eliminating potential hazards if they see them.”

Garde said workers’ compensation claims make businesses less competitive, so by placing increased emphasis on safety, the company is also maintaining is competitiveness while helping to look after the well-being of its employees.