Mon, Nov 23, 2020

Kroll's Security Concepts Podcast

Kroll’s Enterprise Security Risk Management subject matter experts have come together, alongside special client guests, to host a podcast series discussing the world’s most pressing security challenges.
Episode 5
COVID-19 Workplace Success Stories - The Boston Beer Company

Managing an organization’s health, safety and corporate security is a demanding, high-pressure role. Incorporate a global pandemic and the uncertainty around creating, implementing and maintaining proper health and safety protocols, and security directors are faced with the biggest challenge of their career.

In this episode of Kroll’s Security Concepts, we hear success stories in the management of COVID-19 in the workplace with Mary Ann Polad, the Director of Environment, Health, Safety & Corporate Security at The Boston Beer Company. Hear firsthand how Mary Ann managed her day-to day job duties while navigating the implementations needed for COVID-19 health and safety.

Passages from the Episode

Boston Beer Company COVID-19 Response Program

“With all of the issues related to COVID-19 aluminum shortages, everything that's affecting the craft beverage market, is it true that Boston Beer is actually setting internal records for the amount of product going out the door?” – Jeff Kernohan

“We are actually, 2020 has turned out to be a very good year for Boston Beer. We were fortunate in that we were able to stay productive and keep producing beer at record volume. We were able to meet the demand of the market, which rose exponentially with people staying at home and just generally having more time.” – Mary Ann Polad

“What were the top reasons that you think that your COVID-19 response program works so well, keeping you working and keeping everybody in the workplace?” – Jeff Kernohan

“I think there's probably three things. We responded early with a mandate from our chairman and founder Jim Cook that we would create the safest environment for our coworkers outside of their home. We endeavored to do that right from the start. We introduced very quickly health screening protocols, temperature checks, mandatory masks while at work. We're vigilant and diligent about ensuring coworkers compliance with those measures. We were constantly in front of our coworkers to ensure they understood the risks of the virus, not just within the brewery, but within the communities and with the recognition, the lines are very blurry between what happens at home and what happens at work.” – Mary Ann Polad

“There were lots of tactical improvements that we made so that our coworkers could have a better experience coming to work. We offered a pandemic pay for the period of time when the pandemic closed the other communities. We offered things like hotel rooms if people wanted to stay close to the brewery and not go home for fear of bringing the virus home. We sent masks home for families to wear. It was a lot of things that came together and quite honestly evolved over the course of the pandemic and continue to evolve. The commitment we made to our coworkers was that we were going to create the safest place outside of the homes. And we did that.” – Mary Ann Polad

“I think it really helps that you do have buy-in from the top. Your founder is very much behind a lot of the impetus for really putting these programs in. We have found that that is pretty much paramount when it comes to the importance of actually making these systems work is having that buy-in from the top. The people actually making the decisions want this to happen and that helps immensely. As these numbers increase again, are there any new things, any new technology you guys are looking at that you might want to deploy, or are you guys set with what you have now?” – Jeff Kernohan

“I think the fundamentals work. Wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, making available hand washing stations. Those three things combined, whether you're at work or at home, that's sort of the magic formula for preventing the transmission of the virus. That said, we recognize that our coworkers are getting a little fatigued as the world is getting fatigued with the virus. We have to continuously step up our communications game. We have to look at creative ways of doing things. For example, we always have holiday parties for brewery coworkers, I mean we're not going to do that this year for obvious reasons. So, how do we think about providing some acknowledgement and recognition for those folks at a time when we'd love to do it in person but we can't. We're actively looking at how we offer a testing program to coworkers and what that might look like. It's still in development, but the next step for us is to see how we can potentially use testing to keep, particularly our high-risk coworkers, safer.” – Mary Ann Polad

Contractor Safety and Training

“When it comes down to what we're talking about with the safety and keeping everybody feeling secure and safe in the workplace. Is there any initiative that you have done that you're the most proud of across the team, whether it be COVID-19, security or environmental health and safety measures; is there anything that you're most proud of that you've accomplished?” – Jeff Kernohan

“The things that we had done in the past and had worked well for us, one is unequivocal focus on contractor safety. It's not always the first thing that people think about when they think about environmental health and safety programs, but we've grown so much in the past 10 years and have had such a reliance on third party contractors and vendors that we needed to do that well. We established, what I believe now is essentially a best in class program for qualifying contractors, vetting their safety performance, requiring the appropriate training when they come on site, having a safe work permit methodology that the people really use that establishes solid communication between contractors and Boston Beer coworkers. Since we focused on that program, we've had zero contractor issues at any of our large breweries. That's something that I wouldn't have said seven years ago. And so, I'm very proud of that, and I'm happy. I think our contractors are very pleased and happy to come work for us because we can offer that safety and that commitment to making sure that they stay safe when they're on our property.” – Mary Ann Polad

Personal Health and Well-being of Employees

“The second one is a program we launched at our Pennsylvania brewery around ergonomics. We always had our share of strains, sprains and muscular skeletal disorders and they were probably the most significant part of our injury. We decided to focus on it, and we did so in partnership with the local hospital. We brought an ergonomist and an athletic trainer onto the property and developed a program around evaluating how people work at their particular work center. We introduced stretching exercises. Then we also introduced an employee early intervention program where if someone was feeling any kind of muscular issue, the athletic trainer was there to help work them through it. It could be anything from, I was unloading the dishwasher this morning and I felt a tweak in my back to, I just slipped on some water and my ankle feels funny. The trainer was there to provide immediate and thoughtful direction for the coworker. It wasn't so much hands-on as it was kind of minds on. Certainly, if there was an emerging issue of something that's more serious, they get referred out to a physician, but it established an interesting, new level of trust between our coworkers and the safety of the organization, that we cared about their health and their wellbeing holistically. It didn't matter if they were hurt from something that happened at home. It mattered that they were healthy wherever they were because their total holistic health matters to us. That's what keeps us going and keeps them showing up for work every day. We saw great results from it, coworkers loved it and it continues to stay. We've actually increased the number of hours we have someone on site now. We are launching it at our two other large breweries and are really happy about that.” – Mary Ann Polad

“An area where I think is not quite developed yet, but an area that we want to think about coming out of COVID is how do we apply the focus that coworkers assigned to their personal health and well-being during the pandemic; how do we capture that and get them to continuously apply that outside of a pandemic? It was an interesting dynamic during the last nine months; we've seen precipitous reduction in work-related injuries, and that's not necessarily because anything's changed in the workplace. It's because coworkers are uber focused on their own personal health and well-being. They're taking it seriously because they don't want to be sick. When you have that kind of focus on yourself and you're paying attention to your own personal well-being in that way, it tends to migrate to other parts of your life. The challenge now is to take that and package it in a way that we can continue to enable that kind of focus and accountability and responsibility for personal health.” – Mary Ann Polad

Advice to Environment, Health, Safety & Corporate Security Personnel

“What kind of advice would you give women looking to get into this type of role?” – Jeff Kernohan

“I think the advice I would give to anyone trying to get into the role, I guess for women specifically, is that there a place for you in this space. I'll step back and say I was a sociology major. I don't have a background, I didn't get a bachelor's in EHS or a science. Well, sociology is a behavioral science, and I've always sort of chuckled about that because I think that having that sociology background and having that perspective has made me a better, more sensitive and more aware safety manager. At the end of the day, these situations come down to behaviors. We often solve for behaviors with technology solutions or engineering solutions, but at their core safety risks are a reflection of how people behave.” – Mary Ann Polad

“I come to it from that perspective. I've always taken the position that if an opportunity opens, you walk through that door. And, I've never been afraid of the uncertainty of that effort. I think that there's lots of opportunities in the environmental health and safety, and increasingly in the security space for women, for people of color, for diverse communities to really step into that space, which hopefully they will do increasingly.” – Mary Ann Polad

“I would just add that I think that there's room in this conversation for the different perspectives that people bring to it. The life experiences that a woman has are different than some of the life experiences a man has. The life experiences of someone from a diverse population are different, and those experiences add value to the health and safety space. I would encourage people to take advantage of that.” – Mary Ann Polad

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