How I Do It: Maintaining a Safety Culture Across the Country - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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How I Do It: Maintaining a Safety Culture Across the Country

Photo: Aspen Grove Landscape Companies

Aspen Grove Landscape Companies services a number of commercial clients across the U.S. through their family of regional landscape companies located in various markets.

Photo: Aspen Grove Landscape Companies

They have also consistently earned the ‘Best of the Best’ award in the NALP Safety Recognition Awards. This distinction is earned by companies who have maintained the Overall Safety Achievement Award – Gold Level” status for the past three years.

In the 2021 Safety Recognition Awards, eight Aspen Grove Landscape Companies were recognized for their safety records. This includes:

  • Clippers LLC – Sterling, Virginia
  • Integrated Landscape Management (Tree Branch) – Tempe, Arizona
  • James River Grounds Management – Portsmouth, Virginia
  • James River Grounds Management (Richmond) – Glen Allen, Virginia
  • Reliable Property Services (Madison) – Waunakee, Wisconsin
  • Reliable Property Service (Madison Golf) – Waunakee, Wisconsin
  • The Landscape Partners (GIC) – Fort Worth, Texas
  • T.R. Gear – Fairfield, Ohio“

At Aspen Grove Landscape, we take safety seriously and are committed to all of our companies achieving ‘Best of The Best,’” says Paul Lutz, director of safety operations for Aspen Grove.

Creating Consistency

Lutz credits their success to creating standard practices across the organization. Even though they have a diverse team of professionals performing a diverse portfolio of services, standardized metrics and measuring tools have helped them identify common trends.

“Standardized best practices are then analyzed and common trends are either engineered or administrated out of our work practices,” Lutz says.

He says weather tends to be their largest challenge when it comes to standardization. Snow removal is an example of a service that can be harder to create consistencies.

“What we have committed to is zero workarounds in our process and that is personally one of my top commitments when I start every day,” Lutz says. “I literally tell myself, ‘Paul, get after it and no shortcuts or workarounds.’”

By focusing on the basic safety needs of their teams, they are able to prevent larger safety events from occurring and reduce the risk involved in everyday operations. Lutz says focusing on the basics makes it easier for the teams to voluntarily comply.

Photo: Aspen Grove Landscape Companies

Aspen Grove also leverages a safety management system and information intranet to close the distance between states.

“Culture is culture and it is all about knowing our team,” Lutz says. “Certainly, people can be different in different parts of the country. But if we create the right culture where safety is everyone’s responsibility, it is not.” 

Some of the new Aspen Grove companies to earn the Best of the Best award are Clippers LLC and T.R Gear. Lutz says this is because safety is contagious, and leadership puts safety as a top priority.

“Aspen Grove is a destination company for landscape professionals and they are held to a high standard,” Lutz says. “It is not a matter of if all our companies will carry this distinction, it is a matter of getting there together as a team.”   

When it comes to recognizing these companies for achieving the Best of the Best award, Lutz says sending their team members home in the same condition as when they arrived is the ultimate reward for all their companies.

“We prefer to reward for consistency of managing events if they do occur,” Lutz says. “We are very specific how we incentivize safety as we believe it is part of everyone’s job description.” 

Benefits of Being a Safe Company

At Aspen Grove, safety is the fundamental principle on which all of their services are performed.

“In today’s market, humans are our largest and most valued resource,” Lutz says. “By investing in safety, we believe we are investing in our future and the future of our professional families.”   

Photo: Aspen Grove Landscape Companies

Being a safe company empowers other areas of Aspen Grove to focus on operating the business.

“Being a safe company also attracts and retains the best talent and our customer retention also benefits,” Lutz says. “We service our clients with the best level of service the industry offers, but our safety component sets us apart from our competition. Who would not want to work with the ‘best of the best’? Especially in a profession that carries a high level of risk, and it can be the difference in going home safely to our families.”

Lutz adds by not having to spend resources on unplanned accidents, they can improve their ethos of quality and service to their customers.

 If you are wanting to get your employees on the same page when it comes to safe practices, talk about safety, face it head-on and do not settle for human performance errors.

“We are successful at getting our teams all on the same page through standardized practices, empowerment, coaching and mentoring,” Lutz says. “Those are not all-inclusive practices but are the building blocks of all our practices, not only safety.”

Want to recognize your team members for their commitment to safety? Enter now in the 2022 Safety Recognition Awards by May 2.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the content manager for NALP.