www.agc.org • February 2014  

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On the Inside
Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP)
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AGC-Willis Construction Safety Master Class
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Time: 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas
Registration: $425.00*

* - Planning to attend the AGC Annual Convention? Add the AGC-Willis Construction Safety Master Class to your registration for just $75.00.

The AGC-Willis Construction Safety Master Class is designed to challenge contractors to master core safety principles and practices that will lead to company-wide excellence in safety and occupational health management and risk control.

This intensive, half-day program will assist contractors in developing actionable strategies and recommendations for solving the safety and health challenges facing today's construction professionals, plus Master Class participants will gain new insight into the trends and issues that will impact safety and health management in the future.

The Construction Safety Master Class will draw on significant input from attendees via interaction with the presenters (construction safety experts, fellow contractors and risk management professionals), providing participants with a unique bridge between principle and real-world practice.

Master Class registration includes the complete program below, plus free admission to the CONEXPO-CON/AGG tradeshow, as well as complimentary tickets to select AGC Annual Convention events: Willis Party and Willis Safety Awards Breakfast (see full details below).

Tuesday, March 4

7:30 a.m. to Noon OPTIONAL - AGC-Willis Construction Safety Excellence Awards Finalists' Presentations - Observe first-hand as finalists for the AGC-Willis Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA) defend their award application in front of the CSEA judges' panel. Refreshments available.

9:30 a.m. OPTIONAL - Opening of the CONEXPO-CON/AGG tradeshow - Join AGC President Paul Diederich as he cuts the ribbon, opening the 2014 CONEXPO-CON/AGG tradeshow which features more than 2.3 million square feet of exhibits, including the latest construction business and technology solutions in the AGC Pavilion located in the Las Vegas Expo Center. Free CONEXPO-CON/AGG admission is valid March 4-8.

1 p.m. - Master Class Opening

1:15 to 2:45 p.m. - Windshields and Rearview Mirrors: Focusing on What's Ahead, With an Eye on What's Behind
This dynamic, interactive session will involve construction executives from companies with award-winning construction safety programs participating in a panel discussion centered on how each firm built on past experiences to develop successful safety programs and the impact it has had on their business.

2:50 to 3:35 p.m. - See the Future: How Building Information Modeling (BIM) Will Improve Safety, Quality and Productivity
BIM has evolved into a tool that can be utilized to identify and analyze predictable hazards that impact workers, quality, and the overall operations of a construction project. Through visualization using BIM models, contractors are able to incorporate prevention strategies into planning and design.

3:40 to 4:25 PM - Under the Microscope: What Makes a Good Safety Program Great?
With more than five years of experience judging leading contractors on the quality of their safety programs, a panel of AGC-Willis Construction Safety Excellence Award judges will breakdown the critical areas of a comprehensive safety management program and highlight practices and procedures contractors can start implementing tomorrow to increase management commitment, employee involvement, and safety innovation.

4:30 to 5:15 p.m. - Practical Application of Safety Leading Indicators
This session will highlight methods in which participants can use safety leading indicators to augment their traditional safety and health metrics. By using leading indicators, companies move from a reactionary stance (being driven by the lagging indicators or injuries) to identifying the precursors that can lead to incidents before the incidents or injuries occur. This proactive approach will ultimately lead to a reduction in the lagging indicators, historically the OSHA Incidence Rate. (OPTIONAL - This session will also include an interactive exercise in which participants will identify specific leading indicators for their company or industry.) PRESENTER: Bob Fitzgerald, CSP - Projects Safety and Health Manager - Southern Company Operations

5:15 to 5:30 p.m. - Master Class Closing

6 to 7 p.m. OPTIONAL - Willis Reception at the AGC Annual Convention - Join AGC Convention attendees for a reception in the Bellagio Grand Ballrooms

Wednesday, March 5

7 to 8:30 a.m. OPTIONAL - WILLIS Safety Awards Breakfast--featuring Captain Richard Phillips, author of A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea.

Register here.

Regulatory & Legislative Updates
Take Action: Visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center to Submit Your Comments

On Sept. 12, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a proposed new rule on silica exposure. Anyone who expects to be impacted by this rule should submit comment letters opposing the proposed new rule on silica exposure through the AGC Legislative Action Center (LAC).  A sample, editable letter has been provided for convenience which can be customized to your respective operations.  Click here to access the letter.  All comments must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (ET) Feb. 11, 2014.

The proposal aims to reduce the silica permissible exposure limit (PEL) for construction work to 50 µg/m3. The agency has also proposed an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3, which will trigger the exposure monitoring provisions. Exposure monitoring is just one of numerous ancillary provisions that are included in the proposal. Others are requirements for regulated areas or written access control plans, prohibitions on work practices on construction sites such as the use of compressed air, dry sweeping, and dry brushing, medical surveillance, respiratory protection, training and hazard communication and recordkeeping. OSHA has also proposed an alternative to the exposure monitoring provisions through a "Table 1." Table 1 sets forth specific job activities, engineering and work practice controls, and respiratory protection that, if followed, would exempt the employer from compliance with the standard’s monitoring requirements.

Based on AGC’s review, the proposal should be returned to OSHA for further evaluation of costs, benefits and risk for the following reasons:
  • Crystalline silica is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth's crust (12 percent) and is found almost everywhere as a component of rocks, sand, and soils. 
  • Silica is perhaps the most common construction and manufacturing material in the world; it is a critical component in many manufacturing, construction, transportation, defense, and high-tech industries and is present in thousands of consumer products. 
  • Over the last 40 years, significant progress has been made in preventing silica-related disease under existing regulations -- coinciding with the adoption of the current PEL for silica in the early 1970s and concomitant improvements in industrial practices. Cases of silicosis still occur in the U.S. and are most likely attributable to the higher silica exposures that were prevalent three and four decades ago, as well as continuing widespread overexposures compared with the existing PEL. 
  • Cutting the PEL in half would be enormously costly. A recent analysis of the anticipated OSHA proposal would impose $5.5 billion in annualized compliance costs on affected industries and result in the loss of 17,000 person-years of employment and $3.1 billion of economic output every year the proposed regulation is in effect. 
  • The real problem is the failure to achieve compliance with the current PEL. Correcting that failure should be the focus of OSHA's efforts and will likely achieve the best results. 
For more information, please contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or cannonk@agc.org

AGC's 95th Annual Convention 
March 3-6, 2014 
Las Vegas, Nev.

Best Practices
By Barry C. McLaughlin
Ronald Evans
MWH Constructors

Most construction firms have varying occupational and safety standards to comply with local and industry-specific policies, but all safety programs have a common objective: to provide employees and subcontractors with safe and healthy working conditions.

Such programs should raise the visibility of health and safety at the workplace, improve employee health and safety both inside and outside the workplace, and ingrain health and safety into all construction sites. A program’s primary goal can be simple: all employees and subcontractors come to work and go home safely each day, thanks to ongoing education and systematic safety training.

An added benefit of a successful safety program is that excellent safety records translate into lower workers’ compensation insurance and liability rates and, therefore, reduced costs and risks. According to a 2013 study by McGraw Hill Construction, "Safety Management in the Construction Industry SmartMarket Report," by instituting strong safety programs contractors will see a 51 percent increase in project return on investment, 43 percent faster project schedules, 39 percent decrease in project budget and 71 percent lower injury rates. Of course, well thought-out safety programs go beyond protecting company interests of having a healthy and safe worksite. 

Although all projects are different, here are five tips for adapting a safety program to any construction project:

1. Get everybody involved. 
Every level of management needs to be responsible for demonstrating safety leadership, providing a safe work environment and promoting safe practices. Additionally, every employee needs to understand the company’s safety program and go through training at the start of employment and at each jobsite. 

Safety is a top-down and bottom-up driven value of the organization. It is important not only to communicate health and safety practices, but also listen and act on employees’ ideas. Consider choosing a safety champion at every project site and office to help promote new safety policies and initiatives.

In 2010, MWH Constructors, an AGC member of several chapters and the construction arm of MWH Global, developed a unified program—internally branded SafeStart—to encourage a proactive approach in which employees engage and involve themselves in every aspect of health and safety across all areas, activities and disciplines by:  
  • Allowing employees to question and challenge the way the company operates to uncover a better or safer method;
  • Providing a mechanism to elicit suggestions from all levels of workers and implementing the suggestions to create an interactive workplace;
  • Continually reviewing the design for safety, engage contractors, ensure offices are safe and tidy and ensure staff are carrying out their duties safely;
  • Being proactive to health and safety, as opposed to a reactive approach to hazards (acts or conditions), as is traditionally the case;
  • Supporting a safety program with policies and procedures to ensure it is embedded within the business; and 
  • Empowering everyone to stop any unsafe work activity.

Also, it’s important to remember to reward hard-working employees for following safety protocols. For example, MWH Constructors periodically holds celebratory luncheons for all project personnel to emphasize and celebrate safe, successful past performance.

It’s important to recognize that safety standards mean nothing until they are implemented by the men and women who do the work. 

2. Develop a culture that puts health and safety into its core value and then commit to it.  
It is crucial that safety be deeply embedded and prominent in the company’s culture.  A successful safety program is led from the top, with involvement and commitment by everyone within the business.

A program should be developed as an example of the company’s commitment to improving corporate and project health and safety, not only through the reduction of incidents, but through the introduction, application, compliance and continuous improvement of health and safety management.

3. Regularly promote the safety program to employees, subcontractors and clients. 
To promote safety at jobsites, the program should include ongoing touch points at varying frequencies to remind everyone of safe practices, such as:
  • Daily safety activities – Conduct daily visual safety inspections to confirm work practices are in accordance with the overall health and safety plan. Also, every morning conduct daily discussions with subcontractor crews and review specific safety aspects that will be encountered that day. 
  • Weekly safety activities – Conduct weekly safety meetings with crews to reorient them with the specific hazards that may be encountered on current work. Additionally, project tours should be taken with each individual contractor to review upcoming activities, installed safety and environmental measures, site organization and cleanliness of its respective work areas, as well as provide feedback and guidance and to assist in resolving any safety issues the contractor may have.
  • Periodic safety activities – Conduct periodic meetings and reviews with supervisory employees to discuss safety problems and review any site incidents that may have occurred. The safety director and members of the executive team should also visit sites periodically to perform safety audits. 

For example, MWH Constructors conducts "president walks" quarterly at each project site. The presidents from both MWH and the subcontractors, in addition to the owner’s safety representatives, walk the jobsite to review the safety posture of the project.

4. Have safety training tools in place. 
Providing employees with an induction process – including videos, online and hands-on learning – can be accomplished with a diverse staff of trained professionals.

MWH Constructors’ SafeStart program includes tactics to provide an introduction, application and compliance of the safety program to its workforce. In order to create a unified program, SafeStart established consistent health and safety signage, rebranded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), introduced a DVD with a health and safety message from executive leadership and site specific training information, hands-on induction training, and scheduled recurring monthly project health and safety planning meetings for its workforce. 

Any innovative safety program needs to make a safe working environment accessible to everyone. Even in environments with a variety of cultural and language barriers, safe practices are achievable.  For example, a large percentage of construction workers in the U.S. are Spanish speakers and monolingual. Being able to bridge the communication gap between employees is vital to project success. To help bridge this language barrier, tactics can be as simple as developing illustrated safety manuals and bilingual training materials to provide education courses at the site. 

5. Use two-way communication tools to constantly update and improve the safety program.
Once a safety program is developed, remember that there’s always room for improvement and the program will continue to evolve.  Focusing on continuous improvement to health and safety in the workplace and implementing best practices into any safety program plan will ensure a safe working environment for employees and subcontractors. 

Contractors should create an open dialogue for employees to report on safe practices. For example, MWH Constructors utilizes "Improve It" cards to be filled out by anyone, whether on a project site or in an office, as a channel to report practices that could use improvement, as well as good practices to continue.

As contractors apply lessons learned and implement best practices across the construction sites, they should inform and educate their employees to ensure a consistent approach and safe, healthy working environment across all projects and offices during the planning, management and execution of work.  

In addition to formal training and meetings, the company’s commitment to safety should be communicated through a variety of other mediums. These can include regular safety meetings, proactively sharing incidents through safety alerts and monthly messages from executive leadership regarding health and wellness for all workers. 

Barry C. McLaughlin is the regional safety manager and Ronald Evans is the vice president and deputy director of operations at MWH Constructors—the construction arm of MWH Global (www.mwhglobal.com), a wet infrastructure-focused strategic consulting, environmental engineering and construction services firm, dedicated to delivering the highest standard of health and safety across all work areas. The firm’s focus on safety, reaches far beyond protecting the employees and interests of MWH; it also benefits their clients and the communities in which they live and work.  

Since the implementation of the MWH Constructors safety program, the company has been named a finalist in the Construction Safety Excellence Awards from the Associated General Contractors of America in 2013, an award the company received first place in 2010; Gold level achievements from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents; and Merit Awards for submissions from the British Safety Council International Safety Award in 2012.


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