Zero Isn't Good Enough at AMEC Earth & Environmental

Nov. 1, 2009
This Pennsylvania engineering, testing and environmental consulting firm believes less is more when it comes to safety and zero incidents at work.

Times are tough right now, and many companies have adopted cost-cutting strategies and in some cases, are taking on jobs that have safety risks that they might have passed on several years ago.

That's not the case with AMEC Earth & Environmental, says Vladimir Ivensky, director, safety, health and environment. “A lot of companies, especially in today's economy, have a strategy of ‘get the job done no matter what it is’ and ‘cut everything we can in order to be the low bidder and win the job,’” Ivensky says. “AMEC's approach is ‘Can we do this job safely?’ Only if the answer is yes to this question do we bid on a job.”

Safety, he adds, is budgeted into the job from the first day.


The 4,546 AMEC employees at the company's 140 offices worldwide provide engineering, environmental consulting and construction materials testing. They readily have adopted AMEC's “Beyond Zero” vision, philosophy and culture.

“Beyond Zero, [our] vision of success in safety, is more than having zero incidents at work,” says Ivensky. “Safety must be integrated into all AMEC operations and taken beyond the workplace into our homes, communities and our families.”

Beyond Zero has three components:

  • Safe behavior ultimately affects all aspects of an employee's life, both business and personal.

  • Safety is a choice as well as an attitude. Embrace a positive safety attitude and enhance the safety culture throughout AMEC.

  • AMEC, in its safety journey, is moving to the next stage of the safety evolution with Six Safety Essentials and universal Safety Rules (the rules include topics such as confined space permits, safe driving, working at heights, lifting and lockout/tagout, to name a few) to implement and sustain its Beyond Zero safety culture vision.

The Six Safety Essentials are designed to support the safe execution of work in all AMEC operating locations with the development of a common set of behaviors that employees can share. AMEC, in its goal to be recognized as a world-class leader in safety, strives to ensure a daily overall consistency of EHS standards, leadership and performance. The Six Safety Essentials are:

Always take care — Be observant, take your time and think safety first. Nothing we do is so important that we cannot take time to do it safely.

Follow the rules — Safety procedures are designed to stop you from getting hurt. Ignoring them is unacceptable. If a procedure is unclear or unworkable, then you must inform your supervisor.

Do a risk assessment — Before starting work, a risk assessment is required for identifying potential hazards and selected control measures must be in place. If you're unsure, ask your supervisor. Risk assessments associated with routine tasks should be re-examined regularly.

You must intervene — If you believe your safety, or the safety of others, is being compromised, you have a right and obligation to intervene to stop and correct the work. You have [management's] support to exercise this right without any repercussions.

Manage any change — If there is a change or deviation to the planned activity you must stop the job and re-evaluate the risk assessment and the precautions taken.

Wear the correct PPE — You must ensure that when you undertake any work, you wear the full PPE correctly as identified in the risk assessment for that specific task.

Management reminds employees to follow the company's safety rules and remember the safety essentials through a variety of ways. A daily safety message is emailed to employees each morning. Employees are encouraged to comment, send in their experiences or ask for more information on any topic presented. The company's safety-related intranet site, SHEWeb, features online databases for reporting, training and construction project management, as well as a safety quiz program that attracted 5,700 users in a single year.

Employees also test personal protective equipment for comfort, ease of use and functionality, since they will be wearing it.

“Safety is not just spoken at AMEC. It is lived,” says Ivensky. “AMEC listens to and learns from its employees. For example, employees will not wear PPE that is uncomfortable or does not fit — having the employees test PPE assures they will wear what is chosen.”

At AMEC, he adds, “If safety stops the moment you leave work, we haven't done our job.”

Next: The Concrete Pipe Div. of CEMEX

Previous: America's Safest Companies Go Beyond Zero

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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