Safety Self-Reflection

Overall, construction safety performance has significantly improved over the past decade, but the same challenges still face us. Intentions are good as each contractor provides a new approach, tool, system and like to find the “secret sauce” that leads to exceptional safety performance. In all these efforts, often a key ingredient is overlooked: emphasis from the craft professional’s vantage point.

Some recommended areas to reflect include the following:

•    Hazard Recognition Training
•    Leadership Visibility

Hazard Recognition Training

Hazard Recognition TrainingThe traditional hierarchy of controls is risk management based. Sure, the pyramid identifies potential areas to minimize the risk associated with the work/task, but I have yet to find a craft professional that doesn’t yearn for additional training and education. We all speak to empowerment and their responsibility to stop unsafe acts and conditions, yet we wonder why our craft professionals do not appear to get involved. It is the lack of hazard recognition training often that prevents the active participation we want.

It is the “teach a man to fish” philosophy. Invest in an effective hazard recognition program with the craft community and watch the transformation. Haskell utilizes an observation-based process where we monitor an at-risk/inspection metric. Since making the investment in hazard recognition training, we have experienced value increase. This increase in the identification of at-risk hazards/conditions and prompt correction has proven to foster craft engagement and positive safety performance at project and corporate levels.

Leadership Visibility

Leadership matters, and leadership visibility in safety matters even more. Haskell asked ourselves, what is leadership doing to communicate that safety is our core value. We attended meetings, participated in incident reviews and addressed our successes through corporate communications. Our safety performance metrics remained stagnant.

The Take 5 Safety Survey was introduced to approximately 75 leaders within the organization. The goal was to visit a project, conduct a hazard assessment of a crew performing work and then pull one craft professional from the ranks for a discussion. The effort demonstrated that Haskell leadership made safety a priority. The conversations with the craft professional proved to provide insight to the field safety perspective, identify areas of improvement and validate that some of the tools we employed were effective.

Hazard recognition training and leadership visibility produced a 64% reduction in recordable incidents and 75% reduction in DART (days away, restricted or transferred) cases. Perhaps just as important as reducing incidents was the increase in craft professional participation. Several instances have occurred where a craft professional actively prevented injury. Leadership reaching out to the individual to personally thank him/her for their commitment to our core value has made a tremendous difference on our performance and our safety culture.

The “secret sauce” is leadership at all levels investing, empowering and thanking the craft professional for their support of safety.

So perhaps some reflection is in order….  

As a leader, how committed to safety would those you work with say you are?


Lance Simons

Lance Simons is the Corporate Safety Director for Haskell in Jacksonville, Florida. He has over 25 years of experience in the construction...