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MSA - The Safety Company
On the Inside
McGriff, Seibels & Williams
Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP)
Top News
In April, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a delay in enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers. 

The agency has determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard. Originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin Sept. 23, 2017.

OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard. Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard’s other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training. 

 AGC will continue to fight this standard in court and advise OSHA on the problematic issues the construction industry faces with implementation. To provide contractors with a better understanding of what is expected of them by OSHA, the association has developed the Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction webpage. The site includes a plain text summary of the rule; compliance flow chart; enhanced Table 1; and air monitoring and objective data collection form.


WebEd: The 10 Most Critical Factors in Construction Safety
June 6, 2017 

2-3 p.m. eastern

AGC's Health and Safety Conference
July 19-21, 2017

Denver, Colorado

Please join us July 19-21, 2017, in Denver, Colorado and participate in the development of regulatory and legislative activity at both national and local levels, assist in the development and creation of new safety training programs and products and hear the latest initiatives from OSHA and other industry experts.
  • The latest updates to regulations and OSHA activities;
  • Get the latest updates on congressional activities directly affecting construction safety and health;
  • Participate on subcommittee and taskforce meetings on DOD, Utility Infrastructure, Highway & Transportation and more;
  • Take an active role in improving safety and health in the construction industry.
Don’t miss the opportunity to attend social events hosted by the sponsors and AGC and interact with other attendees.
Chapter News
OSHA's Dallas Area Office and TEXO are helping to raise awareness about workplace safety and health among young people in Texas. In April, the organizations provided free safety training to MacArthur High School students interested in construction careers. The training focused on finding and fixing fall, struck-by, electrocution, and caught-between hazards. The students also learned about workers' rights and employer responsibilities.
Best Practices



Organizational culture, while notoriously difficult to define, is a driving force in organizations. It is responsible for shaping employees’ attitudes, guiding behavior, creating a sense of identity and establishing consistency. Often, corporate culture can be more influential than a company’s written rules or regulations, so establishing one that prioritizes safety is critical to companies operating with the general contracting industry.

Contrary to popular belief, a safety-first culture is not achieved through EMR scores, OSHA numbers or financial statements. It is not built on insurance rates or successful bids; it’s built on (and built by) people. A safety-first culture helps construction field teams – those removed from the financial side of risk management – answer the question: why does safety matter to me?

While creating and maintaining a safety-first culture is the objective, it is not without its challenges; project demands may require faster-than-average onboarding, subcontractors may not place a similar value on safety and specific job challenges may force companies into reactive positions.

But despite the job-specific challenges that might arise, it is possible to create—and sustain—a safety-first culture. Here’s how.

The nature of culture is such that it cannot be defined or directed from the top; instead, culture emerges naturally from a set of norms, values and beliefs shared by individuals throughout the company.

It is impossible to separate a safety-first culture from those who live and breathe it every day. In this vein, it benefits risk management leadership to build a team comprised of individuals whose core values align with the company’s long-term safety objectives—safety champions.

First, start at the top by securing buy-in at the highest levels of the organization. If executives aren’t visibly championing risk management, not only will middle management place a low priority on safety, but field teams could end up paying lip service to safety policies and procedures on the work site.

Next, reinforce the executives’ commitment through a robust recruitment effort. Challenge hiring managers to never stop scouting the company’s next safety advocates and design recruitment tools in a way that requires interviewees to demonstrate their commitment rather than just talking about it. 

Finally, once a committed team has been assembled, make every effort to engage and retain employees who embody the safety-first mindset. Offering public praise and building in time for employees to share their feedback will help your organization retain its most valuable assets: its safety champions.

In a safety-first culture, a company’s commitment to risk management cannot be overstated or overemphasized. Set the expectation early and reinforce the message often: there is no greater priority than safety.

To achieve this company-wide safety mindset, challenge leadership in your organization to go beyond what is required by legal and regulatory entities when it comes to safety. After all, meeting minimum requirements demonstrates a minimum commitment.

In practice, this might manifest in extended onboarding for employees, the requirement of supplemental industry—or role-specific—certifications, or ongoing professional development programs for employees throughout the organization. 

Day-to-day reinforcement of the expectation is also needed to drive the safety-first mindset. For example, holding ‘stretch and flex’ sessions at the start of the workday emphasizes the importance of physical wellbeing, and making safety a central topic at pre-task meetings and town halls reminds teams that risk management is always top of mind. 

In short, there can never be too many touch points when it comes to promoting the safety-first culture.

It’s the job of every risk manager to recognize that the safety topics that dominate the board room don’t always translate to the work site. Field team members often are less compelled by the financial implications of risk management and more moved by its day-to-day consequences.

Risk managers should look for ways to humanize safety, to bring the broader risk management concept to life on the construction site. This can be achieved by discussing the consequences of individual risky behavior for the people working alongside field team members every day. 

Make safety personal by encouraging your team members to get to know one another, by sharing stories of ‘close calls’ within the industry, and by discussing errors—even those made at the leadership level, which can be a great source of learning and development (and may help build loyalty and gain buy-in).

A candid dialogue that humanizes the topic of safety will inspire a safety-first culture more than a discussion of insurance rates ever could.

Risk management should extend to all four corners of a general contractor’s operations, but that alone will not set the stage for a safety-first culture.

Most employees who embody the safety mindset have an innate, personal commitment to managing and reducing the potential for risk both on and off the jobsite. The value they place on safety does not evaporate when they leave work; rather, it permeates all facets of their lives. Only when you have enough people with this same conviction can a safety-first culture thrive.

Risk managers can promote the safety-first mindset on the clock by discussing safety off the clock. Build time to review everyday safety practices that team members might not expect to hear at work: safe driving behaviors, proper workout techniques, in-home fire alarm checks, even safe cooking techniques around the holidays. 

Leadership can go a step further by formalizing programs that underscore its commitment to employee wellbeing beyond the jobsite. For example, consider sharing a "safety tip of the month," which may be unrelated to construction; instituting a company-wide health and wellness initiative; or encouraging employees to earn CPR certification. These programs not only provide direct benefit for employees, but they make your company values tangible and actionable.

There will always be a place for serious conversations on the impact of risk management on business outcomes. It’s Business 101 – there is no risk management function without a profitable business, and there is no profitable business without a high-quality risk management function.

That said, there is measurable value to employing programs and tactics that make safety fun, programs that bring the concept of safety out of the often-tense space it occupies. In fact, research suggests that inserting humor into training may improve learning outcomes.

Enlist the help of your team to make safety fun – there is no shortage of ways to do so: safety role playing at all team meetings; short, educational videos designed to jumpstart important safety conversations; creative incentive programs for employees who go out of their way to make the company a safer one.

At the end of the day, the best thing risk management leaders can do to make safety fun is to recognize and show appreciation for the efforts of their teams. A ‘thank you’ or ‘great job’ can go a long way toward making safety fun.

Culture is a powerful driving force within organizations, and it is up to risk managers to nurture an environment where a positive culture—one that prioritizes safety—can thrive.

This environment is not cultivated by excessive auditing or constant review of financial implications of safety. Rather, it’s built by committed individuals who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to safety and are willing to make sacrifices. After all, prioritizing safety above all else means days may run long and construction may stall. But the alternative is not an option.

By building a team of safety champions, elevating company expectations, humanizing risk management, expanding the scope of safety and inserting some fun along the way, a safety-first culture—and a better company—can be achieved.  

Jerry Flemming is the vice president of risk management for James McHugh Construction Co., a Builders Association member, in Chicago. Flemming has more than 25 years’ experience in safety and risk management. Since joining McHugh in 2011, Flemming has guided the company to achieve its lowest Experience Modification Rate—0.46—while overseeing some of McHugh’s most complex and expansive projects to date. He continually challenges safety assumptions and is always looking for ways to improve and advance the risk management function.
Member News
Skanska, a member of multiple AGC chapters, kicked off its 13th annual Safety Week earlier this week, focusing on the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle of continuous improvement. Skanska’s hundreds of jobsites nationwide and its regional offices will mark the event with activities such as toolbox talks, safety demonstrations and training sessions. Additionally, Skanska is once again participating in the annual Construction Industry Safety Week, which it helped found in 2014.

"Our industry has made great strides to protect workers, and we are closer than ever to achieving the ultimate goal of zero injuries," said Skanska USA chief environmental health & safety officer Paul Haining. "With construction volume forecast to increase and a significant number of seasoned craft workers nearing retirement, we must all work to sustain a culture that rejects the thinking that incidents are an unavoidable part of the work we do."

The construction industry is looking at a potentially grim equation if it doesn’t reinforce its safety efforts. With many industry veterans leaving the workforce, the risk is that newly hired skilled workers enter the field without sufficient knowledge of how to plan work to avoid injuries.

The focus on Plan-Do-Check-Act aims to reinforce and sustain a culture of continuous improvement among Skanska’s thousands of craft employees and subcontractor workforces. The cycle asks workers to plan their work and adjust future plans based on performance. If a plan fails to address any sort of hazard, workers are empowered to stop and reevaluate. 

Investigations have shown that incidents and near-misses often have root causes tied to complacency with existing conditions, which can then lead to a cascade of factors that injure. Plan-Do-Check-Act is a thought system central to Skanska’s Injury-Free Environment® that is designed to eliminate complacency.

"I truly believe our industry can achieve zero accidents," said Ross Vroman, executive vice president and general manager of Skanska’s Phoenix office. "As our Phoenix operations continue to grow, we have a tremendous opportunity to ensure we create a culture on all of our projects that finds any type of injury unacceptable."

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, education, sports, data centers, government, aviation and commercial.  Headquartered in New York with offices in 31 metro areas, we have more than 10,000 employees committed to being leaders in safety, project execution, sustainability, ethics and people development.
Brasfield & Gorrie, a member of multiple AGC chapters, recently announced that the company is joining with other construction industry stakeholders in sponsoring Safety Week 2017, an industry-wide initiative that aims to raise awareness of safety in construction.
During the week of May 1-5, 2017, the company will observe Safety Week with events and activities at its offices and jobsites. Centered around the theme, "I will protect this team," Brasfield & Gorrie’s efforts seek to increase employee engagement in safety.
The company’s Safety Week initiatives include a fundraising component to benefit Kids’ Chance, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and support to children who have been affected by workplace injuries. To support Kids’ Chance, Brasfield & Gorrie offered special edition Safety Week t-shirts benefiting the nonprofit and will host fundraising events during Safety Week.
"As a national sponsor of Safety Week 2017, Brasfield & Gorrie is joining construction industry stakeholders across the nation to build momentum around safety and promote sharing of best practices," said Brasfield & Gorrie corporate safety director Troy Ogden. "By including Kids’ Chance in our Safety Week efforts, we aim to drive home the critical impact of safety to our employees while supporting a worthy organization whose mission aligns with this top corporate value."
During Safety Week 2017, Brasfield & Gorrie employees will participate in a variety of activities that elevate worker safety and health. Many of Brasfield & Gorrie’s 200 active jobsites will hold training sessions, such as safety stand-downs, and events designed to foster safety conversations, such as team safety walks and safety lunches. The company’s regional offices will also participate in Safety Week activities, including emergency action plan drills, CPR training, and other seminars.

For more information on Safety Week 2017, click here.


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