Clean water is a staple for any growing community. Located in Columbia, MO, Culligan of Mid-Missouri knows the challenges of the water industry well. The company provides water delivery and maintenance, including system installation and purification.
Providing water services to the public requires some heavy lifting. However, the safety grant the company earned changed the way they do it – and scored them some savings along the way.
Safety risks in the water industry
Safety is a priority at Culligan. The job requires employees to be in good physical condition. John Mullette, General Manager, is careful to select and train the right employees. “When I hire people to work for me,” he explained, “I put them through a complete screening process.” Every employee undergoes a chiropractic assessment to minimize the potential for injury.
A majority of employees are behind the wheel of a company vehicle during the day. Mullette estimates they get in and out of the driver’s seat nearly 40-50 times a day. Sprained ankles and knees are a hidden risk. Daily deliveries include bags of salt and potassium weighing in at 40 pounds, and five-gallon bottles up to 68 pounds.
Some employees focus on servicing water softeners and tank repairs. Water softener vessels are installed around a hundred times a month. A few are smaller and easier to handle, but commercial tanks are heavier and can weigh up to 500 pounds. They are installed about 12 times a month. Often, they must be maneuvered up or down stairs. They presented a bigger problem – one that Culligan needed a solution for.
Employees are a cornerstone of the business. “We owe these people an honest opportunity to know that we’re not going to hurt them,” Mullette added. And investing in their safety was the way to do it.
Building the right team
Submitting a safety grant application is a team effort. “You want to do it right,” Mullette explained. “It’s not necessarily free money – you have to put time and effort into doing this.” He estimates it took him around three months to complete it. But he didn’t have to do it alone. Marissa Spencer, a member of the company’s agency team, TIG Advisors, played an important role.
Spencer walked side-by-side with Culligan – and John – through the application process. She partnered with MEM’s Safety & Risk Services team to identify the top safety risks. These meetings help identify the safety equipment that will make the biggest impact. “A vehicle doesn’t make you safe, a lift makes you safe,” she offered as an example. She met with John every few weeks until it was time to submit the application.
Hand trucks handle the heavy lifting
Culligan needed a new way to do the heavy lifting. Their old equipment was outdated. It got the job done, but it didn’t do it well. Their successful grant application earned them tech that changes the way they work – and saves them money.
An electric stair-climber hand truck now lifts water softening vessels with ease, reducing the chance of damage. New technology allows it to climb steps with little guidance, even turning itself around on landings. The company also purchased a few convertible hand trucks that handle much of the heavy lifting. For example, one customer requires nearly 80 bags of softener regenerant. Carrying one in each hand, it used to require 40 trips in and out of the business. With the help of a hand truck, the number of trips has dropped to just four.
Between improved use of employee time, equipment costs, and claim cost avoidance, total savings come in at more than $82,000. “In order to be the best, you have to have the best people and the right equipment to do the job,” Mullette shared. And the program helps businesses get valuable insight, even if they don’t receive a grant. The lives, safety, and wellbeing of employees at Culligan are a priority. They know the investment in safety equipment sent employees a vital message: “You are important.”
A small investment in safety can yield a large return. Find out how. >