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Holland Grand Rapids and Chicago Garages Celebrate Safety Records

Grand Rapids Sets an Impressive Safety Record

The Holland Grand Rapids Maintenance Shop (Garage) is the largest in our system. There are more people doing more work on more vehicles here than in any other Holland shop. Despite all of that activity, the 31-member Grand Rapids maintenance team recently accomplished the amazing feat of going two years without a single lost-time injury. 

“If you do the math based on the number of people in the Grand Rapids shop, they worked over 100,000 hours without a lost-time injury,” says Holland Area Maintenance Manager Paul Childers. “That is an amazing record by any standard. It’s a credit to the safety mindset Shop Manager Pete Holzgen creates in the shop, and to every member of his team. Their safety record proves you can do a great job of maintaining a fleet, keeping our trucks on the roads, and going home injury-free every day.”

Making that record even more impressive is the fact that the two-year period includes the shop’s relocation from their old site to the new Grand Rapids terminal. 

“Dealing with the move to our new facility made avoiding injuries harder in a several ways,” Pete says. “We did the entire move by ourselves so we could more quickly become familiar with our new home. Moving equipment and fabricating some of the structures isn’t what we do every day, so we had some additional safety risks. Because we were working in a new facility, it took some getting used to, and that can additionally increase the risk of injury. Finally, the shop and yard are so much bigger. There’s more traffic, and it moves faster. Even with all those risks, our team got the new shop up and running, and we did it injury-free.”

Pete says he holds regularly scheduled safety meetings and other activities to promote safety, but his daily pre-shift meetings are a bit different than most. He refers to them as “open forums” where, rather than just sharing safety tips and stats, the team conducts more in-depth discussions about safety issues and improvement opportunities. 

The Grand Rapids Maintenance Team understands how working safely is good for the company and good for customers. 

“Avoiding injuries means we avoid the related healthcare costs that run into the millions of dollars for our company every year,” Pete explains. “No injuries also means we stay fully staffed, which helps us keep our fleet in top shape and on the road. And having our team healthy and on the job means we are better able to keep our fleet on the road and carrying customer freight where it needs to be.”

Celebrating An Injury-Free Year in Chicago

When Bruce Panzer joined the Chicago terminal as the new Maintenance Manager last fall, he quickly discovered he’d joined a strong team of professionals who shared his commitment for safety. That commitment recently paid off as Bruce and the team celebrated a full year without a single lost-time injury. 

“We have a really good crew here in Chicago,” Bruce says. “They understand how important it is to take no chances on the job and always do things the right way. That helps ensure they’ll each go home as healthy as when they came to work, and that’s what working safely is all about.”

Daily safety briefings and a weekly safety culture meeting are important parts of avoiding accidents and injuries. Bruce also says he’s constantly on the lookout for standout safety activities that deserve recognition, as well as things that could be performed more safely and require some corrective feedback. 

“Anytime we reach a safety milestone like this, it’s important,” says Paul Childers, the Area Maintenance Manager covering ten terminals, including Chicago. “These accomplishments are a great reminder that we can meet our safety goals as long as everyone works safely and looks out for one another.”

Holland’s Director of Safety, Doug Kilpatrick, couldn’t agree more. 

“Every safety milestone deserves recognition,” Doug says. “Going a whole year without one lost-time injury requires a constant focus and tremendous commitment, ever hour, every day and every week. That’s how you build these safety records; one day at as time. Everyone at Holland benefits when a shop like Chicago does their part to avoid injuries and keep everyone safe.” 

Bruce knows that the members of the Chicago Garage understand the top priority is always to work safely and avoid taking any risks that could result in an injury. They also understand that every injury costs the company money, and often it’s a lot of money. 

“Everyone here in Chicago is doing what we can to keep this record going by doing the best job we can in the safest way we can.”

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