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America's Safest Companies 2018: Great Lakes Construction

Nov. 7, 2018
Great Lakes Construction's goal is to send all employees home at the end of each day safe, injury-free, engaged and educated.

A multiple-time America's Safest Company award winner, The Great Lakes Construction Co. continues its journey to safety excellence.

"A safe work environment is achieved through the conscientious efforts of everyone and is supported by proper procedures with all of us continually thinking safety," says William Hocevar, safety director. "We value our employees as our most significant assets. Therefore, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace, regardless of the cost."

Great Lakes Construction integrates strong senior management support, innovative programs driven by worker engagement and education in all aspects of its business to drive sustainability and a world-class culture.

Employees don't just participate in training -- they assist in writing weekly toolbox talks. Great Lakes Construction's safety committee chooses topics that mimic an OSHA 30-hour course.

In addition, workers are required to discuss hazards twice daily, in the morning and afternoon. Work is not permitted to begin until every employee feels comfortable with the hazard corrections.

"Employees, regardless of rank, have the authority and the obligation to stop work whenever they feel unsafe, or a hazard exists," Hocevar says.

Workers are encouraged and rewarded for creative thinking. For example, one employee devised a device that holds a jackhammer. "Because this device allowed our employees to work safer, with less stress on the body, we rewarded the employee with a $1,000 cash prize," he says.
Another worker suggested a safer fall protection system for a particular beam. The company paid an engineer, welder and a surveyor to fabricate a new fall protection system, test the method according to OSHA standards, train Great Lakes Construction employees on the system and then fabricated them en masse.

"The culture that we've built and continue to cultivate makes Great Lakes Construction a safety-forward company for all of its employees," Hocevar says. "This culture leads to behaviors that are seen not only on the job site but at home, where our loved ones are also impacted. We make it our goal to send all employees home at the end of each day safe, injury-free, engaged and educated."

About the Author

Dave Blanchard | Editor-in-Chief / Senior Director of Content

During his career Dave Blanchard has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeek, EHS Today, Material Handling & Logistics, Logistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. Prior to joining Endeavor/Informa/Penton, he spent a decade covering the artificial intelligence industry. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. 

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