Much has changed in the 149 years since Seither & Cherry Company first opened its doors in Keokuk in 1872, but one thing has remained constant: The company’s commitment to safety. Safety is priority one. “We want our employees to go home to their families happy and healthy.” said Corby Hawkins, who’s in charge of sales and marketing at Seither & Cherry Company.

“Safety is important because our biggest asset in our company is our people. We want to protect our people and we want to protect our clients.”

Hawkins said Seither & Cherry Company employs two full-time safety managers who audit every job, perform pre-job safety analyses, and conduct annual and semi-annual safety training sessions for all employees. Additionally, each foreman is required to maintain certain standards set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and every employee must carry a 40-hour OSHA certification.

Seither & Cherry Company also maintains an Experience Modification Rating (EMR) of 0.63, a rating Hawkins said is “world class.” A company’s EMR helps determine its workers’ compensation premium rate and is determined by its safety record. An average EMR is 1.0, anything less than 1.0 is considered above average. Hawkins said one reason the company’s rate is so favorable is because Seither & Cherry makes safety a priority every single day.

“Safety is everything.  From making sure our employees have the right equipment (steel-toe boots, safety glasses, gloves, etc.) and the equipment is working properly, to making sure our job plans are meeting all necessary standards. For instance, we make sure we’re not lifting heavy objects when there are people below.” he said. “But safety stretches across all aspects of our business—even making sure that the office equipment is ergonomically correct for each employee and our office is up to all safety standards.”

“Additionally,” he said, “clients are given a customized safety course that gives them insight into what to expect from their Seither & Cherry team and what that team expects from the client.  Safety is a mindset, and we really stress that mindset with all of our employees.” Hawkins said. “I have adapted myself.  For many years when I’d mow my grass I’d wear flip-flops and no safety glasses, but now I’m in my work boots with my safety glasses on. You know you’ve embedded it in people’s minds when they’re taking these steps at home too.”