Set in Stone: Formalizing Policies Improves Workplace Safety

Penn's owner and employee with truckWe’ve all been there. You stop at a roadside station to fill your car with gas. You close the car door and immediately turn around in horror. You've locked your keys inside.

If you’re in the Kansas City area, you could be rescued by Penn’s Tow Service, a family-owned provider of towing and other emergency vehicle services. As one of the metro area’s largest towing companies, Penn’s can take on any job, big or small. In 2015, business owner Bill Penn noted that on-the-job injuries had been getting worse for several years. He knew it was time to figure out a solution.

Penn worked with MEM Safety and Risk Consultant Corey Besgrove to identify several gaps in their safety programs and come up with a plan. They realized that they needed to formalize several safety policies that had been informal or unenforced.

Updated Safety Policies

Penn's Tow Service Loss Improvement Chart

Penn's improved losses by formalizing safety policies.


Employee safety trainings: Trainings were previously conducted during pay stub distribution. Penn's transformed them into stand-up meetings with documentation of topics covered and employee attendance, improving their effectiveness.

New employee orientation: Penn’s developed a formal orientation training checklist to ensure that new employees cover all safety-related topics. The new hire's supervisor signs the checklist upon completion. Previously, this was performed informally.

Drug and alcohol testing policy: They expanded the existing policy from including post-incident testing for only Department of Transportation incidents to all incidents.

Return to work policy: RTW plans were previously done on a case-by-case basis; Penn’s incorporated a formal policy.

Management announced the formal safety policies to employees in a handbook, which underwent legal review before finalization. After introducing the changes, Penn’s went totally injury-free in 2016. “We saw a change right away when we started the program,” remarked Penn. “It’s been the main driver in increasing employee accountability and focus.”


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