My travels bring me in to a wide variety of settings across a range of industries. I may be photographing an event, portrait or party one day, then a product line the next.  I can also find myself analyzing processes within a small business or large-scale enterprise.

I’ve recently been spending some time on a construction site, which by all outward indications puts incredible emphasis on safety and rightfully so. Someone even remarked, “I’ve never seen a company take it this seriously.”

Signage advises workers to use their heads before their hands, and give the greatest gift possible to their families – their safe return home each night; think about the things they’d miss and so forth.

These banners are everywhere: on existing structures, newly hung doors, throughout the permanent and temporary offices and at the parking lot. There, as pictured above, massive concrete barriers protect a pedestrian walkway. None of this existed when the job began.

The fence is wire, I’ll add, with construction netting for added visibility. The signs appear on both sides, so you see them as you approach. The posts are driven deep and secure. It seems to me this is done to or beyond what must be best practice for the industry.

Even the parking lot, if you could it that at the time, was a simple, slippery mud slide before this company arrived on the scene and improved it.

What best practices apply to your business? Are they being managed? Are you sure? What is it costing you if they’re not?

Years ago a friend was the late night clerk in a convenience store in New York’s East Village. I would stop by late after concerts in the neighborhood and say hello and keep him company for a bit as he stocked the shelves or rearranged the coolers.

“Day crew never rotates,” he’d always say, referring to dates on the milk or soda. Along the same lines but in the Catskills I more recently listened to a franchise sandwich shop owner lament the juice boxes, sliced apples and chocolate milk he couldn’t sell because his sandwich experts always shoved new product in front of old, leaving some to expire in the back of the cooler.

“Rotating for freshness” is critical when the product is perishable, but even if you’re not selling bananas, tattered old or outdated packaging doesn’t do the new project within any justice.

I am also reminded of the emphasis on best practices, or possibly the disregard I’ve witnessed on other sites or in other settings.

I once spent an afternoon with foresters training in “Best Management Practices” designed to minimize pollution of groundwater through the use of culverts and other design aspects for logging roads. It all made perfect sense, and when I toured a ‘model forest’ years later I was happy to see some of the BMPs in place.

Then there was a factory, where employees modified some equipment to ease the manufacturing process at the expense of safety. The foreman pointed these out – along with handles embellished or fattened with duct tape and cardboard added to the floor as anti fatigue mats, perhaps. In that factory, there were no known best practices on display. Workers were left to their own devices, or perhaps empowered to find their own solutions – devil may care!

Environmental conditions in an office in a retrofitted former supermarket were so poor, employees regularly complained of respiratory issues. The union got involved. Eventually air quality studies were undertaken and steps toward improvement made.

Also in the building realm, contractor and television celebrity Mike Holmes has built an empire – if not a second career, out of correcting other’s mistakes, ‘making it right,’ and bringing it up to code.

But let’s return to model construction site – where each principal player has a ‘personal safety plan’ displayed near his or her workspace. Handwritten replies to “Why I work safe” include a love of lifestyle, family and friends and more. “What I am committing to ‘Make it happen,” is answered by things like leading by example, good communication and not taking shortcuts or walking past unsafe actions. They serve as constant reminders to those who are here every day, and send a message to folks coming on going more infrequently. Safety matters here.

What matters in your business? How are you committed to making it happen?

If safety matters, are you leading by example or texting behind the wheel?

If “freshness sells,” is your team on board? Check the milk!

Are you hiring, training and managing to match your business culture as well as your needs? Or have you lost sight of ‘best practices’ in favor of warm bodies?

In the day-to-day, it’s easy to get caught up in running the business and getting that product or service delivered on time, on budget and at a profit.

Sometimes, however it’s also possible to forget the hidden costs of waste, accidents, corrections and make-goods.

Consider drafting best practices for your business, or bring someone in to help you do so – then take steps to ensure every member of your team understands these concepts, steps or procedures and buys in!

Thanks for reading You can also subscribe read about Jonathan Ment Photography, or follow on twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Reach out, if I can be of any assistance.

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