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SLC 2017: Using Leading Indicators to Improve Safety Performance

Nov. 30, 2017
A new report from the Associated Builders and Contractors reveals how its STEP program and the use of six leading indicators have reduced total recordable injury rates at some participating companies by as much as 87 percent.

The Construction Track of the Safety Leadership Conference started out with great news: The findings of the third annual Safety Performance Report of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) indicate that the implementation of six specific leading indicators significantly improved safety performance.

Greg Sizemore, vice president of HS&E and workforce development for ABC, noted that the organization has 22,000 members, 18,000 of which are contractors. The association offers a Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP), a safety benchmarking and improvement tool that the most recent report shows dramatically improves safety performance among construction industry participants regardless of company size or type of work. Companies participating in STEP reported as much as an 87 percent reduction in total recordable injury rates (TRIR).

“If I offered you a roadmap to get there, would you be interested?” Sizemore asked. This process gives companies “a methodology to get from Point A to Point B,” he added.

He said the STEP program offers participants the opportunity to take an honest look at how they approach safety and culture, affording the opportunity for a paradigm shift, quoting Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” who said: “We see everything through the perspective of our own paradigm.

Sizemore admitted he experienced his own paradigm shift when a young employee on a job site where he was working was killed. “Loss of life often leads to a paradigm shift,” Sizemore admitted. “On average, three people are fatally injured [on construction sites] every day, and that’s just not acceptable, What is your safety paradigm? Accidents will happen or incidents are preventable?”

How organizations perform in safety often reflects the attitude of corporate leadership, Sizemore noted. He shared this quote from Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker: “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.”

When leaders embrace safety, and companies “do these six things and do them well, then [they] will show improvement in safety," he said.

  1. Companies that provide more than 215 minutes of new hire orientation show a TRIR rate 1,827 percent lower and a days away restricted or transferred (DART) rate 1,662 percent lower than companies that provided 31 minutes or less of new hire orientation.
  2. Companies that offered site-specific orientation had a TRIR rate 180 percent lower and a DART rate 158 percent lower than companies that did not complete site-specific orientation.
  3. Companies that offer daily toolbox talks had a TRIR rate 276 percent lower and a DART rate 292 percent lower than companies that offered monthly toolbox talks and a TRIR rate 220 percent lower and a DART rate 233 percent lower than companies that offered weekly toolbox talks.
  4. Companies that track near misses have a TRIR rate 169 percent lower and a DART rate 163 percent lower than companies that do not track near misses.
  5. Companies that conduct weekly inspections with follow-up have a TRIR rate 239 percent lower and a DART rate 243 percent lower than companies that conduct monthly inspections with no follow-up.
  6. Companies that have substance abuse programs have a TRIR rate 156 percent lower and a DART rate 156 percent lower than companies that do not have substance abuse programs.

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