We caught up with our Senior Safety Consultant, Ralph Thresher, last Friday, February 5th, 2021 for a short (9:21) interview where we talked about several topics:
- His decades-long experience in safety consulting, loss control, OSHA regulations, and more.
- A typical week, and how he works with our clients to keep them safe and save money.
- Common safety shortfalls he sees on a regular basis.
Watch the interview or read the transcript below. For more information about joining our RiSC platform and taking advantage of Ralph’s services, please go here.
Hello there, I’m Reynolds Whalen, the Director of Culture and Communication at Webber and Grinnell Insurance in Northampton, and Ross, Webber & Grinnell Insurance in Holyoke. I’m joined today by the man the legend, Ralph Thresher who’s our Senior Safety Consultant. Hey Ralph, how you doing today?
Hey, I’m doing great. It’s Friday. Happy Friday, everybody.
Happy Friday indeed! You’ll notice Ralph and I are both wearing our lovely branded vests today. It is winter after all, so repping the company. So Ralph, just want to get to know you a little better and make sure that our clients and people who may be interested in working with us know who you are and what you do. And I just want to point out that it’s fairly unusual for a local agency like ours to have a full-time Senior Safety Consultant, and it’s one of the ways we invest in making sure we’re helping you as our partner stay safe, keep your company safe and your employees safe, and thus also save you money on insurance premiums. When you don’t have claims, your insurance costs stay low.
So Ralph, tell us a little about your background and what got you into this field of safety and where you come from before working with us.
Well, I went to school at Western New England College, and got an Industrial Engineering degree, and with that degree came a lot of emphasis on safety and ergonomics. When I got out of school, I ended up working for Aetna as a safety consultant trainee, which then flourished into becoming a construction safety specialist, as well as just working hard to be a good generalist and property consultant. I stayed with them for a couple of years, and then from there I went over to Utica Insurance and worked for six years or so with them doing the same loss control work. And then I was offered a position out at a friend of mine’s agency where I worked for a number of years there, and then ended up coming over to Webber and Grinnell about three and a half years ago and enjoy every minute working here.
And very quickly became an icon here! You know I almost didn’t recognize you without the hard hat and safety vest. You appear on our website and in our marketing materials with that iconic look, so I think people will recognize you from those photos probably. So tell me about a typical week and what you do, some of the services you offer our clients, and what you’re doing week to week in this job.
Well, a typical week, it’s what I love about this job, it could be virtually anything. I could be out at manufacturing facilities doing mock OSHA inspections for them, or more importantly discussing how important it is for everything to work properly from management on down where safety takes priority over everything. Once you do that, you find that all the money you’re putting into the coffers isn’t flowing back out in losses and virtually any other thing you can think of. The analogy I like to use is you’ve got water behind a dam and you work hard to put more water into the dam. Well if you have workers comp losses, fleet losses, insurance premiums that are rising because of that, compliance issues that cost you fines…all those things are little cracks and holes in the dam which continuously take water out of the dam so you have to work that much harder to put it in. My job is to help you plug all those holes so that the money comes in a little bit easier and you get to retain it. So your employees are happier because they’re working in a safer operation and you’re happier because you don’t have to work as hard to make as much money.
Fabulous. Excellently put. What are some of the most common safety shortcomings and challenges you find on an everyday basis?
What I find really is that management and the safety committee or team need more education than they have, which is part of what I do. For them to do a thorough job of implementing an effective safety program and all of its aspects, I come in and train them on not just the “what to look for” regarding the actual violation, but more importantly “what are the causes of the violation” and follow that right back up through the entire chain of employees and management. And ultimately, everybody gets to discover the root causes and a lot of it comes back to training. Either the employees didn’t know or they chose to do shortcuts because they were taught to do that by somebody else in the plant and there’s not enough attention paid to it. But only because people in these businesses, we all have a ton of work to do, we’ve gotta get stuff built, we’ve gotta get trenches dug and pipes laid and components sent out the door, there’s a lot to it as far as running a business. Once I get them to understand how much they’re losing when they’re not paying attention to that stuff, then they get to see that and we just incorporate all that through effective safety programs and communication most importantly from the top all the way down to anyone in the plant so everybody’s on the same page, they all understand that safety has to take priority over anything. And ultimately it ends up where, as I said before in my analogy with the dam, the money is staying in now and everyone is safe so they don’t have to worry about the losses.
As a former business owner and manager myself, I totally identify with what you’re saying about a million things you have to be doing each day pulled in a lot of directions and I imagine having you there as a support must be a lifesaver, especially if you’re running a large organization in a more risky industry like construction or trucking, I imagine you’re a sight for sore eyes when you show up at the work site to help them work through things. So we really appreciate all you do. I have just one more question for you. What do you like most about your job?
I love being able to help people. Our clients, as far as I’m concerned, we have some of the most awesome clients out there. When I get a phone call to help somebody because they don’t know something, I’m never going to say I know everything, but if I can’t answer it I make sure to call the right people. I’ve got contacts at OSHA, I’ve got contacts at the FMCSA. I get the answers and I get back to them as quickly as I can. Same thing with claims, if there’s a problematic claim that’s not being closed or there’s not enough communication, I love getting involved with that so I can get people answers and help people.
Great. Hey, thanks for your time Ralph, I really appreciate it. And I just want to say to anyone watching this that we have a platform called RiSC that is an acronym that stands for four different parts of the business that we help you work with, and Ralph is an integral part of that. We’d love to talk to you more about what we can offer and how Ralph’s services can help you grow your business and focus on the things you want to and save money on your insurance and make sure everyone stays safe. So thanks for watching and Ralph, thanks for your time.
Reynolds, my pleasure. Take care.
Alright see you soon, bye.