2010 CEOs Who 'Get It'


Ron Vetter

Vetter Stone Co.

Vetter Stone Co. and its subsidiary, Alabama Stone Co., quarry and fabricate limestone for projects around the world. They are considered to be the leading quality producer in the country. The company, headquartered in Mankato, MN, employs 130 workers.

Why is safety a core value at your company?

Clearly, the employee and the employee’s family and loved ones need for them to be the best that they can be, and a large part of that is returning home healthy.

How do you instill a sense of safety in your employees on an ongoing basis?

We hold daily pre-shift stretching programs, stress safety daily, hold weekly meetings to review specific safety issues, review any incidents or near misses, and review best and safe work practices. We play safety bingo with significant prizes, and the employees are reminded of safety each time they check their bingo number.

We have a safety director who provides initial and ongoing training, as well as develops companywide ideas that improve safety. Team leaders are trained and implement many safety ideas specific to their area. We conduct scheduled safety walkthroughs by employees from other departments to serve as a set of eyes to look for potential safety issues. We have an annual safety audit done by our workers’ compensation carrier to serve as yet another set of eyes to find any potential issues and to do additional safety training tailored to each department.

How do you measure safety? What are the leading indicators that show you how safe you are, and where do you see room for improvement?

We track daily the number of days without an injury and number of days without a lost-time injury and implement near-miss reports. Other indicators are mod ratios and tracking by department.

There is always room for improvement with safety. We need to continually find ways to send the message of safety in a manner that a varied audience will find engaging and meaningful.

How important is off-the-job safety to your company’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety programs does your company offer to employees?

Safety needs to be a way of life on and off the job. In our weekly meeting we share wellness tips with a variety of topics including nutrition facts, accident statistics, exercising tips and the like to get people thinking and engaged. We offer annual health assessments, share in exercise club memberships, and offer employees and their families third-party consultants they can talk to about most any type of issue or referral.

What is the biggest obstacle to safety in your workplace, and how do you work to overcome it?

Complacency and getting used to a heavy-duty industrial environment. Being heavy-duty industrial, we need everyone fully engaged during the entire shift. We continually remind people in a variety of ways to work safe and not become complacent.

How does safety “pay” at your company?

The real payment is to have all colleagues return home in the same manner they came to work in.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)