No Accident

Travis Post | Safety Protects Profits

Episode Summary

On this episode of No Accident, host Kathleen Finato talks to Travis Post, who’s worked in construction safety and operations for nearly 30 years. Since September 2018, he’s served as the National Director of safety at Fremont, California-based construction company Petersen-Dean, Inc. Travis tells us about the injury that set him on the path toward a career in safety, details his belief in employee-based safety (and cites specific examples of it at play) and explains why a company’s profit will suffer without a proper safety program. Yes, safety is another investment for companies to prioritize, but Travis says all good, successful businesses are willing to invest in safety because it will prevent potential incremental and productivity losses. “What my safety department does is we protect profit,” Travis says. “That's our sole function and how we do that is through the safety program, through the workers' comp process, through modified duty.”

Episode Notes

Travis Post never intended to go into the safety field. But after a Skilsaw injury at one of his first construction jobs left him a partial-leg amputee, his career trajectory completely changed.

“In the early eighties, I received my safety baptism, as we call it,” Travis says in this episode of the No Accident podcast, presented by TRUCE. “It took about two years of physical therapy to learn how to walk again.”

He took a new job in respiratory therapy, then was working in the cardiac unit of a major hospital when he got a call from his old employer — the company he was working for during his injury wanted to know if he had any interest in construction safety. Travis thought it sounded interesting, and went back to work for them in a completely new capacity.

As a former construction worker who considers his injury the result of “horseplay” on the job, Travis was able to go into that position with a valuable point of view. He saw an opportunity for people who had experienced workplace injuries to educate employees who hadn’t, which made such trainings a more meaningful experience.

“I started hiring employees that had previously shot their foot or their hand to the plywood to actually do training classes,” Travis said in one example of a response to several nail gun injuries. “The guys actually listened to them because they're active employees in the trade.”

His team then took this approach one step further and started having individuals who had injured themselves severely enough to receive modified duty worker's comp payments speak to other workers about that experience to show that “you don't get rich off of it. It's basically there to let you survive.”

These employee-led trainings are a result of Travis’ belief in employee-based safety, which he refers to as a hybrid of behavior-based safety and education that help protect a company’s profit.

“You take an individual and have that individual completely buy into the system through education and clear direction,” he said. “If they have input in the whole process, then we get 100% buy-in.”

Featured Guest

👉 Name: Travis Post

👉 What he does: As the National Director of Safety at Petersen-Dean, Inc., a Fremont, California-based construction company, Travis uses his personal experience with work injury to push an employee-based approach to safety.

👉 Company: Petersen-Dean, Inc.

👉 Key quote: “Safety protects profit. That's it in a nutshell, and that's why you should have a safety program.”

👉 Where to find him: LinkedIn

Safe Takes

⚠️ The best way to get workers to follow safety protocols is to explain them in a way that’s easy to understand and then ask for their input on what policies and procedures work or don’t work. As Travis says, “When you get that participation of 100%, the employees become active … if the employees don't like the PPE that we're mandating, they're not going to use it.”

⚠️ If you can get your employees to completely buy-in to a safety program, aka implement employee-based safety, then it becomes the “employee's responsibility to learn and facilitate the whole safety program,” which will inevitably protect your profits.

⚠️ Safety isn’t something you can afford to cut corners on. Travis specifically uses the example of fall protection and how, for those who work without it, “it usually ends very badly for the employee and long term for the company.”




Top quotes from the episode:

“What I do is … employee-based safety. You have to put it in terms that the employee understands.”

“At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much they made. If they're severely injured, they can't continue to utilize that in the future.”

“You can't really look at safety as ‘go out there and be safety cops and catch people not doing what they're supposed to do and make them do it.’ What my safety department does is we protect profit.”

“By having a proactive safety program versus a reactive, it drives that cost code down and therefore it’s not passed on to the customer.”

“Your data has to encompass everything. It can't just be zero accidents. Because then what happens is people become afraid to actually report injuries.”

“Injuries happen every day. And if you're not in front of them, training your employees, the severity is going to do nothing but go up.”