BY: KEITH ELDREDGE, CPA, RKL
ABC KEYSTONE 2022 CHAIR OF THE BOARD
It’s that time of year again. Almost as exciting as the holidays. It’s STEP season. Okay, I can hear the groans and the eye rolls, and it reminds me of my wife or our girls as they respond to one of my comments. But it truly is an exciting time for ABC with the approaching STEP application deadline of July 1 for recognition at the Safety Recognition Breakfast on August 16. STEP is an extremely important time for us, and the data that is collected helps us to accomplish two of our missions: protecting employee total human health and advocating for your businesses.
Why is STEP important to you and your business?
That has been the question every chair has tried to answer. Typically, you hear statistics stating those that participate are 655% safer than those that do not participate, or you hear it is important to have a good safety program. Both are valid and are correct facts, but there is so much more to be gained.
STEP is a journey.
Participating in STEP is similar to continuing education; you never finish or get to the point when there is no more to learn. Each year you get to measure yourself against the industry and against your previous year. You get to see the improvements you have made and how they have affected your employees and your bottom line. Yes, safety is important, but there is much more to that concept now.
Total human health impacts your jobsites.
Since the shutdown, we have been hearing more and more about mental health issues and their impact on employees. We are learning that many people have been suffering, and the shutdown made those struggles worse. STEP has taken on a new total human health element. It is our job as owners to not only provide a safe environment, but to also take an interest in our employees’ mental well-being.
I can tell you from experience when someone is facing issues and feels they are alone, they are not very productive or worried about the safety of others. Their mind is completely consumed with their issues. We need to make sure that the people on jobs are not only physically safe, but mentally safe. When you have someone on a job that is not fully focused mentally, it means they are not focused on the physical side of safety either. We have a responsibility not only to the employee that is having issues, but to everyone on the job, keeping them safe and ensuring everyone is focused on the tasks at hand. If you think total human health doesn’t affect your job, then you may not understand how mental health affects an employee’s work.
As I said, I talk from experience. When I was going through my divorce, many days it took everything I could muster to get out of bed and get to work. How focused was I accomplishing someone’s tax return? How focused was I on helping solve problems or on the people with whom I was working? It was a good thing I was not around heavy equipment, and no one had to worry about me making a move that could harm them. Now, imagine someone struggling emotionally on a jobsite that is filled with safety requirements and potential risks. If you think it is not happening on your site, you are wrong. I guarantee that there is someone on your site that is distracted by something that is happening outside of work, and they could use a friend to help them. Thank God I found one that helped me move forward, and I was able to get out of the funk I was in.
STEP data strengthens our legislative position.
STEP is also important for ABC’s legislative advocacy efforts. For as long as I can remember, ABC has been fighting to see the apprenticeship ratio bill passed. We are not asking for anything more than to be treated the same as those with collective bargaining agreements. But the unions are very good at messaging, and we have not helped ABC in the same way.
The unions continue their campaign of misinformation by attempting to spread a false message that merit shop contractors are not safe. They say merit shop contractors don’t have as effective safety programs as union contractors. When ABC presents data on the safety statistics we get from the STEP applications, it overwhelmingly proves the unions wrong.
Yet, there is still a significant opportunity we lose. It does not help our message when the unions point to the fact that only 20% of ABC merit shop contractors are represented in the STEP statistics. They say that 20% is not a representative sample, and the politicians agree with them. How much stronger would the argument be with 30%, 40% or even 50% of our contractor members responding?
The best way to combat misinformation is with reliable data. We need to STEP up and help ABC as well as ourselves. Please consider filling out your STEP application. There is no cost to you, and ABC Keystone staff are willing to help you with any questions you may have as you complete your application. Your data may be the final piece we need to convince the politicians to move the ratio bill to the full floor for debate.
Posted May 3, 2022