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Pest control companies that foster a safety-first culture stand a lot to gain: stronger customer confidence, lower employee turnover, higher team morale and lower insurance rates. But making safety a top priority must be cultivated through strategic, coordinated and consistent efforts.

In late 2016, at Environmental Pest Service (EPS) we launched a multifaceted safety campaign. One of the most striking results we’ve seen is a 30 percent decrease in at-fault vehicle accidents. Based on our experience, here are seven steps PCOs can take to build a safety-first culture:

1. Make a Plan

Before implementing safety efforts, take the time to develop a plan. It should be well thought out and include goals, activities, costs, timelines and other key considerations. At EPS, we use the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) ADDIE model — Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate — for safety campaign planning. Take your time when exploring options. Just because a product or activity is the cheapest doesn’t mean it’s the best for your company — and the same goes for the most expensive option. Aim to find the right solutions for your needs, then evaluate whether it’s workable.

2. Get Leadership Buy-in

If your organization is looking to make important shifts, leadership must have a clear vision of the changes that need to be made. Involve management in the planning process so they understand not just how the proposed changes will be implemented, but also why. When it’s time to begin the rollout, corporate executives should lead the charge by sharing the safety campaign first with branch managers and then with all employees in a company-wide meeting or call. Your executives should be positive safety role models for the entire team on an ongoing basis.

3. Install a Distracted Driving App on Phones

Distracted driving is quickly becoming a primary cause of auto accidents in the service industry. For that reason, EPS has installed a mobile application that combats distracted driving on company phones used by our approximately 400 sales professionals, technicians, service managers and branch managers.

Essentially, the app disables the phone while the vehicle is traveling more than 10 mph. The phone will still receive calls, voicemails and texts, but it will not ring or signal alerts. The phone also is unable to make outgoing calls, other than to 911. The only feature of the phone that will work is the GPS app and only if it is set before the vehicle starts moving.

4. Use Fleet Telematics to Coach Safer Driving

Telematics is a method of monitoring a vehicle. By combining a GPS system with on-board diagnostics, it’s possible to record and map exactly where a car is, how fast it’s traveling and whether the vehicle requires maintenance.

Pest control companies can use key data — such as how often a driver exceeds the speed limit, how many times the driver applied the brake harshly and how many times the vehicle accelerated quickly — to identify unsafe driving behavior. Not only does this help employees to be more conscientious about safe driving, but it also allows management to identify subpar driving and coach safer driving habits.

5. Offer Safety Recognition and Rewards

Celebrating positive behavior can be an effective motivator. Posters in each of our offices record the number of days that have passed without a safety incident. EPS also has a “You’ve Been Caught” section in the company newsletter with photos showing employees demonstrating safe behavior. Offering a monthly safe driver bonus to employees who meet certain driving criteria and quarterly parties for branches that meet safety goals also can incentivize individuals and teams.

6. Provide Regular Reminders

Vehicle stickers with messages like “No Phone Zone,” “Safety is a Priority” keychains and safety messages on office bulletin boards remind employees to be safe every day. At EPS, we also select a safety topic every month, on which all branch employees are tested and documented in the field.

We also start every meeting with a “Safety Minute,” during which team members are designated a role to fulfill should an emergency occur. For example, someone who is CPR certified would provide CPR, someone else would call 911, another person would take a head count and share the exit plan and so on. This acts as another regular reminder that safety is a key part of everything we do.

7. Encourage Family Support

EPS vehicles include visor photo-frames where drivers can place a photo of their families as a reminder of to whom they want to get home safely at the end of the day. Because calls from family members during work hours can be a common distraction for drivers, family members also receive letters from company leadership expressing EPS’s plans for making safety a priority and that we truly care about our employees.

Michael Rolman is vice president of sales and operations for Environmental Pest Service. Learn more at www.environmentalpestservice.com.