Fort McKay Group of Companies LP

The Bison Ranch's secret to 15 years of safety

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June 26, 2019

The Bison Ranch's secret to 15 years of safety

Horns on headstrong bulls, pinch points on gates, and carrying heavy feed are no match for the Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch team’s commitment to safety. The Bison Ranch workers spend their days dealing with up-to 2,500 pound bison, regularly performing strenuous tasks to keep the 290 animals fed and their pastures intact.

Last month marked 15 years since their last recordable injury. Ranch Manager Brad Ramstead says this milestone has been achieved through day-to-day effort and team mentality.

“When you’re dealing with animals, the potential for injuries can be severe. Every day when we go to work, we have that one-on-one conversation with the people involved to instill a sense of ownership and talk about safety,” says Brad.

Brad has been working on the ranch for 28 years. He first came up in 1991 for a six-month casual position where he worked on the first phase of the Bison project: seeding. After grass, they brought in fencing in 1992 and animals in 1993.

Through his extensive involvement with the project, Brad has grown very passionate about the work he does. He constantly tries to inspire his team to put the same care and caution into their jobs to make sure everybody gets home safe.

“It’s very easy, especially on a ranch, to take shortcuts or use a wrong tool. We look out for each other and intervene to make sure things are done correctly,” says Brad. “It keeps us accountable to each other.”

In addition to intervening, the team strives to recognize each other for excellent work. Chris Erdbecker, Stephanie Gale, and Dion Blackwood are the three other members of the ranch team working for the Fort McKay Group of Companies.

“If the only time you see your boss is when they call you out for making a mistake, then something’s wrong,” Brad says. “The safety team concept is exciting – we take pride in a job well-done.”