courtesy of Ballard Marine Construction
Vessel Helo Access

America's Safest Companies 2022: Ballard Marine Construction

Oct. 3, 2022
Ballard knows you can't put a price on safety and that the true ROI is fewer injuries, more comradery and better safety culture.

Editor's Note: There will be an awards ceremony for the 2022 class of America's Safest Companies at the Safety Leadership Conference in Cleveland on Oct. 18-20, where current and past winners will be sharing their blueprints for success. You can learn more about the conference and sign up to register at

Ballard Marine Construction, LLC

Marine Construction

Washougal, WA

135 employees | 6 sites | 5 EHS professionals

Ballard Marine Construction knows it can’t improve what it doesn’t measure, which is why it measures what it values.

Chris Johnson, western regional safety manager, acknowledges the importance of experience modification ratings (EMRs) and total recordable incident rates (TRIRs). Still, he says that at Ballard, "We choose to spend our time responding to observations, conducting inspections and ensuring that job hazard assessments  and training are implemented effectively.”

So, in addition to injuries and incidents, the specialty underwater construction company measures training, job observations, inspections, job satisfaction and employee engagement. Johnson says that’s because these are their best opportunities to learn, share and provide feedback.

“We don't name, blame, shame and retrain,” he says. “Craft worker-driven safety means, for us, that employees are the ones who create the culture of a safe working environment. They are the beneficiaries of their own culture.”

Ballard incorporates the metrics it uses to measure the safety department's success into everyone’s daily assessment, thereby making safety part of everyone’s job. The company took that into account in its own organizational structure, too.

Safety isn’t a stand-alone department; rather, it’s part of Ballard’s operations and guides the risk management process from bidding to client reports. This also means that safety can identify opportunities for improvement across the company.

“The business case is that the safety department doesn't drive safety,” Johnson says. “It enables operations to implement safety programs more efficiently and with the proper resources. It's not about avoided cost. It's about providing craft workers with the tools to do their work better.”

Training is key to better operations and employee development. Johnson says training is never used as punishment for omissions or mistakes, and the company assigns mentors to spur continuous improvement.

Ballard even created a self-guided, interactive learning program to help employees grow and expand their skill sets. Since its inception in 2021, the program has helped more than 50 employees develop within the company, including four people who have added safety to their title, such as field safety lead.

The company also created a compliance assurance program for workers to submit observations and other comments. On average, they receive over 650 submissions a year, and they guarantee a response to all observations.

“Some are so important we are creating entire initiatives to respond,” Johnson says.

It’s all part and parcel of Ballard’s commitment to its employees, customers and the industry as a whole.

“Safety is a verb—an action word,” Johnson says. “At Ballard, we ask ourselves to look for the actions we can take to make the work more efficient and safer.”

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