www.agc.org • February 2013  

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By Jeanie J. Clapp

AGC’s Safety & Health Committee meeting, held in Tampa, Fla. in January, delivered key safety information and provided crucial networking opportunities for the more than 140 attendees. The opening session kicked off on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2013, with welcome remarks by the committee’s current chairman, Tommy Lee, CPEA, safety director, W.S. Bellows Construction Corporation in Houston. That began the two-and-a-half day journey of OSHA updates, HazCom standards, training information, drug testing concerns, and more. Attendees rubbed shoulders with other safety professionals, shared best practices, and filled their ‘goodie bag’ with important safety takeaways.

“The Safety & Health Committee meeting is the place to be if you want to learn what’s happening in the government arena,” says Lee, a staple at these meetings, having participated on the committee for the last 29 years. “This group is the liaison between the legislative, government and education subcommittees and all the contractors. It’s important for the entire AGC membership to hear the latest news on the safety front, especially those smaller contractors who may not have a safety officer on staff.”

The hard work at these semi-annual meetings is impressive. There are numerous subcommittees working tirelessly on topics such as government, performance, and professional development and updates are provided throughout the meeting. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The Safety & Health Committee carries on throughout the year, meeting with government agencies and collaborating on new rules and standards. Lee has previously testified on three standards, representing AGC and providing valuable input. “It works,” he says. “They do hear you.”

Once standards are released, the committee often creates a video or drafts a white paper, outlining the changes and recommending an implementation plan. Right now, the committee is working hard on the Cranes and Derricks in Construction rule. The standards are hundreds of pages long. The committee breaks the rule down and highlights the major changes so people can dissect them more easily.
“We are on the cutting edge with anything that’s coming down the pike. It gives us time to be proactive, submit our comments ahead of time and then explain to folks what they need to do,” says Lee.

In addition to its legislative and regulatory work, the committee annually recognizes those construction companies that excel at safety performance through the Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA) program, sponsored by global insurance broker Willis. At the January meeting, more than 100 companies participated in preliminary judging, and 69 advanced to the final round of competition, which will occur at AGC’s 94th Annual Convention and Expo in March in Palm Springs, Calif. The winners of the 2013 CSEA awards will be featured in an upcoming issue of Constructor magazine, found on www.constructormagazine.com.

Lee believes that folks who attend the committee meetings are looking to take valuable information back home. “Whether a company is looking to improve its safety program, or a safety officer is seeking to enhance his or her safety career, this is the place to do it,” quips Lee. “Attendees will gain a better understanding of what is going on in the government world by being present. And, they’ll get to hear from other professionals too, from the veterans to the new guys.”

First-time attendee Jodi Wilson, safety director, Crusader Contracting of Lakeland, Fla., wanted to network with others who cared about safety. “The best thing you can hope for when you attend an event is to walk away with a good support system in safety,” she says. “The overall experience of the AGC Safety and Health Committee meeting was great. I met a lot of great people and I walked away with many contacts. Soon after I left the meeting I followed up with some folks and they helped with some valuable resources.”

When Lee first started attending meetings, his boss told him that rubbing shoulders with safety professionals from other companies was the best thing. The bottom line is “we’re here to prevent accidents,” says Lee. There aren’t any trade secrets in the safety world. “We’re all in this together.”

Thanks to the sponsors who made this event possible: ClickSafety, XL Group, Travelers Insurance, Zurich Insurance, MSA, and MMC. Mark your calendars for the next Safety & Health Committee meeting: July 10-12, 2013, Denver, Colo.

Regulatory & Legislative Updates

AGC will hold a special roundtable session that provides attendees with an opportunity to give input on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Safety Manual (EM-385) revision process directly to USACE and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) safety representatives. The roundtable will be held April 24 from 12 to 3 p.m. during the 2013 AGC Federal Contractors Conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

Construction safety professionals are highly encouraged to attend. This will be the last opportunity to comment on the revision process through AGC with USACE and NAVFAC safety representatives in the room before the new safety manual is issued.

To register for only this roundtable session, please click here.  For more information and to register for the entire 2013 Federal Contractors Conference (which includes this roundtable session), please click here.


Safety Management Training Course
February 27 - March 1, 2013
Arlington, Va.

AGC's 94th Annual Convention
March 6-9, 2013
Palm Springs, Calif.

2013 Federal Contractors Conference
April 23-25, 2013
Washington, DC

Advance Safety Management Training Course
June 17-19, 2013
Arlington, Va.

Best Practices

By Robert K. Tuman
Construction Safety Consultant and OSHA Outreach Trainer

“Ugh! Another safety meeting?” This is the mournful cry often heard before yet another boring, nap-inducing toolbox talk.

Some toolbox talks, especially those where the presenter reads from a boilerplate, irrelevant (e.g., a recitation of winter weather safety tips at a Palm Beach, Fla. jobsite) safety meeting script, are a waste of time and money.

If toolbox talks are to be effective, they should:

  • Raise awareness of unsafe conditions and lead to corrective action
  • Raise awareness, without identifying violating employees, of unsafe behavior and result in corrective action
  • Introduce new safety guidelines and OSHA regulations
  • Reinforce safety guidelines
  • Motivate workers to comply with generally accepted safe work practices
  • Help to internalize an appreciation of safety and the company’s and individual employees’ roles in keeping themselves healthy and safe

To make toolbox talks and safety meetings enjoyable, interesting and informative, and to motivate workers to actively participate, follow these tips:

  • Encourage the leader and workers to discuss the most reckless thing(s) they’ve ever done.
  • Engage workers. For example, masons might hold the meeting at or on their staging. The foreman should ask workers what they think of the staging from a safety standpoint, and what they would do, if anything, to improve scaffolding safety.
  • Use the jobsite as your toolbox talk laboratory. Jobsites are fertile territory for visual examples of compliance or lack of compliance in areas such as fall protection, trench safety, personal protective equipment, electrical safety, and scaffold safety. Ask employees to point out unsafe conditions and/or unsafe behavior, and encourage them to discuss the corrective actions they would take, if any.
  • Provide workers with a safety inspection checklist and ask them to walk around their work area prior to meetings and bring their safety observations for discussion. 
  • Pass around safety-related photos (search “safety photos” on Internet) and ask “What’s wrong with this picture?” This tactic works well with a culturally diverse group, where different languages are spoken. 
  • Use case studies to emphasize your point. OSHA’s fatality list is published weekly (www.osha.gov). Hand it out and ask, “If you could roll the clock back to before this fatality, what would you do to prevent it?” 
  • Select an interesting topic from OSHA’s website. The agency is always distributing interesting and informative information.
  • If you use boilerplate safety meeting outlines/topics, make sure they are relevant. There are hundreds of free, relevant safety meeting topics on the internet.
  • Ask attendees to think of recent near-misses, incidents, and/or accidents, and what they would have done to prevent them. Interesting events and incidents happen on every construction project, regardless of their size. If, however, nothing has recently happened, ask attendees to discuss near-misses, incidents, and/or accidents they experienced on other jobsites, and what they would have done to prevent them.
  • Ask attendees to bring their extension cords, tools, equipment, safety harnesses, hardhats, safety glasses, hearing protection, respirators, etc. to safety meetings for all to inspect and take out of service if necessary.
  • Make a meeting a pre-task planning session. Ask employees to discuss what they and you can do to minimize accident and injury during an upcoming project.

Toolbox talks/safety meetings do not have to be boring. With a little bit of thought and preparation, participants will leave the meetings informed, energized about safety, and interested in participating in future meetings.


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