Lanham, Md. — The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) announced today that Lakeside Industries Inc. of Issaquah, Wash., is a winner of a 2014 Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation Award. The company was recognized Monday, July 13, 2015 at a ceremony recognizing the Operational Excellence Award recipients during the NAPA Midyear Meeting in Denver.
“Through the creation of five Operational Excellence Award categories: Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation, Community Involvement, Ecological, Outstanding Brochure, and Outstanding Website; the Awards Committee established a blueprint for excellence — detailing the aspects that make for successful businesses,” stated Jim Mitchell, Chairman of the Awards Committee.
The Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation Award recognizes the development and implementation of innovative ideas that lead to improved worker safety in a roadway work zone, plant site, or quarry environment, and companies whose safety practices go above and beyond normal safety practices.
Lakeside Industries has taken a bold approach when it comes to protecting the hearing of its workers while on the job and off. The company first began baseline audiogram testing in 1996 and has continued the annual practice each year since. Last year alone, 551 permanent and temporary Lakeside employees were tested.
“We describe safety as a core value, rather than say ‘safety is our top priority,” said Cal Beyer, Director of Risk Management, for Lakeside Industries Inc. “The distinction is priorities change. Core values don’t.”
Beginning in 2011, the company began offering dB BlockersTM, custom-fit hearing protection for its field employees, including asphalt paving and grade crews, asphalt production and plant maintenance crews, commercial drivers, mechanics, and miners. In all, roughly 470 employees have been fitted, and the program was recently expanded to cover seasonal employees as well.
Beyer has worked at Lakeside Industries less than one year. When he first arrived he “was blown away by the commitment Lakeside had, and how much effort and money the company invested, to do the right thing.” He added that sharing this best practice sends a message that safety solutions can engage employees rather than making it a battleground.
“We do it to reach the hearts and minds of our employees, to engage them in taking care of their own hearing,” Beyer said. “We are trying to educate employees who have noise exposure at work, at home, and at play.”
The dB Blockers operate by removable vents that allow ambient background noise to enter in but filter out harmful noise. The vents can be changed to control the amount of noise exposure, while offering a consistent level of noise reduction. Workers are still able to hear traffic or directions from colleagues about paving equipment being moved, Beyer said.
“Our employees have embraced this form of hearing protection more than any other form of hearing protection,” Beyer said. He said many employees praise its ease of use, effectiveness, superior quality, and comfort.
Over the years, Lakeside Industries had tried numerous hearing protection devices that weren’t custom-fitted. Many employees said they never fit properly or allowed too much background noise to come in, so they would end up wearing no hearing protection, Beyer said. “It’s very empowering to have people understand our expectations for safety,” Beyer said. “We educate, equip, and empower them so they do their own enforcement; we don’t have to be safety cops, but more like safety coaches.”
“Safety is the number one commitment on Lakeside’s mission statement,” Beyer said. “The general public sees our employees properly attired, wearing the protective equipment.” Beyer said the company’s subcontractors have taken note.
The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) is the only trade association that exclusively represents the interests of the asphalt producer/contractor on the national level with Congress, government agencies, and other national trade and business organizations. NAPA supports an active research program designed to improve the quality of asphalt pavements and paving techniques used in the construction of roads, streets, highways, parking lots, airports, and environmental and recreational facilities. The association provides technical, educational, and marketing materials and information to its members; supplies product information to users and specifiers of paving materials; and conducts training courses. The association, which counts more than 1,100 companies as members, was founded in 1955.
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