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SLC 2014: 8 Key Elements of a World Class Safety Program

Oct. 29, 2014
Being world class requires buy-in by management.

There’s nothing magical about having a world class construction safety program, according to Rich Baldwin, director of health, safety and environment for PCL Construction Enterprises.

Baldwin, whose Alberta, Can.-based industrial, civil and building construction company built Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, instead said excelling in safety can be condensed to eight key elements.

During a session at the EHS Today Safety Leadership Conference, Baldwin and co-presenter Bob Fitzgerald, manager of project safety and health at Southern Co., an Atlanta-based utility company, outlined those elements.

Commitment and Accountability

Making safety a core value of a company requires visible commitment from management.

“Leaders can impact the culture, but more importantly leaders impact climate. If the climate is consistent enough, it becomes the culture,” Fitzgerald said.

That involves providing the necessary resources for a comprehensive safety program, giving employees craft skills and safety training and supporting a team of safety and health professionals.

Effective Contracts

“Shame on us if we don’t have clear and preventative HSE requirements,” Fitzgerald said.

He recommends creating summary documents and holding meetings to explain the requirements to ensure all involved players clearly understand the rules of the project.

“We make it very clear to our subs what their requirements are going to be before they bid to be fair to them,” Fitzgerald said.

Hiring the Best Contractors and Subcontractors

“You have to identify and screen and have a selection process. That is a key element,” Fitzgerald said.

Consider a company’s incident rates and EMR, leading indicators and your past experience with them in making a decision.

“The price should not always be the factor,” he warned.

Construction Safety Planning

It’s almost imperative to visit the site where work will be performed before beginning the project to fully understand the scope of the project and its challenges, Baldwin said.

“There are a lot of things to look at when doing that site list and having a checklist is very beneficial,” he said.

Beyond that, completing a construction hazard analysis can help a company identify training needs for that particular project.

Safety Training/Education

Supervisors and managers need to know the safety systems and everyone needs to know the safety requirements, which can be achieved by holding a comprehensive safety orientation and hazard recognition training.

Hazard Identification and Control

Track trends and retrain as necessary.

“It’s all about the worker, taking care of that worker,” Fitzgerald said.

Behavioral Safety

Behavioral safety comes down to ensuring safety is a value among supervisors and workers alike. That can involve using positive reinforcement and emphasizing how safety is a tool, not a hindrance.

“You want to affect the culture and the climate,” Fitzgerald said.

Incident Investigation

When investigating incidents, look at what could have happened, not just the injury. And don’t only let fatalities or disabling injuries drive a deep dive, Fitzgerald said. 

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