Safety has become a huge part of Ohio CAT’s culture thanks to the efforts of our Safety and Environmental Manager, Monti Zimmerman. Monti has been working in the safety field for 25 years now, 15 of which have been in the construction industry. Prior to working for Ohio CAT, Monti worked as the Safety Professional for GoJo Industries, Inc. He emphasized how much diversity there is in the construction industry, which is something he loved compared to manufacturing. Monti said that with the variety of the industry, it “requires more knowledge and you need to build more education and competency to understand all the different business areas, which is much more challenging.” When he first interviewed, he realized “it was a great opportunity to reach more employees and an opportunity to grow my career in safety where I used to be limited in manufacturing.”
When asked about how Monti contributes to the overarching safety of Ohio CAT’s workforce, he said that everyone “has policies. They all have procedures. But where I think we’ve been very successful, is focusing on our safety culture.” He pointed out that it’s “not only related to the parts and service operations, but also from a corporate perspective, where everybody understands that safety is a value here.” It took a long time to establish this culture. From the beginning, Monti was evaluating where we were having our injuries and losses, capturing that data, and sharing these metrics with our senior leadership to show where we could improve. Monti emphasized that when “leadership buys into the safety culture, it becomes much more effective than just having the safety department lead that effort.”
One of Ohio CAT’s successes according to Monti, is our leading indicator safety system. With this system, we don’t just celebrate eliminating the amount of injuries, but look at predictive analytics and measure how well we are doing even in the absence of injuries. Are we following the policies, procedures and best practices we have set in place to do as well as we can? Monti laid out a great analogy. He said that “the final score in a sporting event is the equivalent of what our injury rates are.” He continued, “The practicing, conditioning and everything else, is what leads you to that final score. For us, our monthly video communications, policies, audits, inspections, and other forms of communication about safety, are what drives our success.” The key is getting the employees engaged in safety, starting conversations, joining safety committee meetings, and seeing results.
One thing that Monti wishes the general public knew about safety in construction, is that “it is a value in construction, not a ‘flavor of the month’.” It is “integrated into everything that we do. Customers have high expectations of their contractors, and to me, that’s a very good thing.” He said, “Contractors involve us in solutions to safety issues at the job sites, which is a benefit to everybody. It is our priority to get our employees home safely, and get everyone to understand how important that is.” Having safety be a formal profession now is another example to prove how valued safety is in today’s culture.
In regards to how the public can help keep construction workers and work zones safe, Monti believes it’s about “controlling at-risk behaviors, focusing on safe behaviors, and understanding that your personal actions play a role in whether those workers get home safely.” Along with that, we can’t rely “on the companies themselves to set up proper work zones, which includes a whole process to do so, but we also play a big part by making sure we eliminate distracted driving, following variable speed limits and being situationally aware of work zones.” Ultimately, the public needs to hold themselves accountable for following basic safety protocol in work zones so that we can avoid incidents and get everyone home safely every day.
Safety is definitely a huge part of Ohio CAT’s culture, and we have Monti’s leadership to thank for that. He is extremely passionate about his career and it doesn’t go unnoticed.