At DPR, safety is a value. Since the beginning, we have fostered a culture of safety that continues to promote safe behaviors and an incident-free working environment. Read our latest safety stories here.



April 18, 2018

Creative Prefab Strategy Drives Efficiency on Hospitality Projects in Austin

Aloft-Element Hotel
Building upon lessons learned at the Aloft Austin Downtown and Element Austin Downtown hotels (pictured above), White Lodging's Marriott Downtown Austin will take creative use of prefabricated skin panels to the next level. Photo courtesy of Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Building upon prefabrication strategies and lessons learned from the nearby dual-branded Aloft Austin Downtown and Element Austin Downtown hotels, White Lodging’s Marriott Downtown Austin, which broke ground in January, will take the creative use of prefabricated exterior skin panels to the next level. At the Marriott Downtown Austin, prefabricated skin panels will be built with gaskets added to the top and side edges of the panels to create the skin’s first layer of waterproofing and a temporary weather seal to protect the building upon installation.

Scheduled to open in summer 2020, the Marriott Downtown Austin will complement the existing JW Marriott Austin to together provide more than 1,600 rooms and nearly 180,000 sq. ft. of meeting space within two blocks of the convention center.

“The Aloft Austin Downtown and Element Austin Downtown hotels represent how the team creatively overcame the challenges of a tight, downtown jobsite to safely and efficiently deliver a first-of-its-kind dual-branded development for a repeat customer,” said Matt Murphy, who leads DPR’s commercial core market nationally. 

Aloft-Element Hotel
The Aloft and Element hotels are located on a crowded block in the heart of downtown Austin, leaving the team with no laydown space. Photo courtesy of Aero Photo

On a crowded block in the heart of downtown Austin and the city’s renowned 6th Street entertainment district, a 34-story tower is home to both the Aloft and Element hotels, which opened in summer 2017. Surrounded by a theater, adjacent historic hotel, restaurants and shops, the LEED-certified hotels are separate, but share amenities including a terrace, fitness center and meeting space. The 278-room Aloft is aimed at travelers in town for short trips, and the 144-suite Element caters to longer stays with kitchenettes and functional workspaces. On the hotel’s exterior skin, the hotels are differentiated by EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems) plaster panels for Element, and gray metal panels for Aloft.

At many downtown sites, below-grade parking provides much-needed laydown space for the team, but the Aloft and Element hotels do not have any parking onsite above or below ground, and are valet-only for customers. The team heavily scheduled deliveries, forcing themselves to be precise and not make exceptions, because they didn’t have a place to store materials. 

Prefabricated panels
The team heavily scheduled deliveries, forcing themselves to be precise and not make exceptions, because they didn’t have a place to store materials. Photo courtesy of Turner Kerr

Closely collaborating with architect HKS and a Dallas-based prefabrication subcontractor, the team secured early and final design approval to prefabricate the hotel’s panelized skin offsite. In the safe and controlled environment of a warehouse, the team lost no days to weather conditions at the actual jobsite. The panels, built to very precise tolerances, included windows, which were set and sealed while rigged to a forklift. All water testing was also done offsite, enabling the panels to arrive at the jobsite in Austin ready to be installed, caulked at the perimeter joints and waterproofed by DPR’s self-perform work crews.

In a market where construction is booming and there is a high demand for labor, the prefabricated skin allowed the team to use smaller crews on-site, meaning less people on an already crowded downtown jobsite, and less people exposed to fall hazards by working on the leading edge of the building. Safety risks were also mitigated by the fact that workers needed to go up and down the side of the 34-story tower less frequently than they would have if the panels were not completely prefabricated offsite. To install the skin with minimal impact and disruption to neighbors, work was done at night, with small crews installing an average of one floor a week. A traditional installation of one floor of skin typically takes three to four weeks of onsite work, which the team reduced to three nights of onsite install time. 

Prefabricated panels
A traditional installation of one floor of skin typically takes three to four weeks of onsite work, which the team reduced to three nights of onsite install time. Photo courtesy of Turner Kerr

“Aside from schedule savings and greater safety for the workers, the offsite prefabrication reduced the burden put on shared resources onsite, from the single delivery lane to the personnel hoist, aiding every subcontractor onsite,” said DPR’s Nick Sultenfuss. “The hotels were also built with a smaller environmental impact, as the jobsite reduced waste by 10% compared to traditional systems.”

As it brings these creative prefabrication strategies to the Marriott Downtown Austin, not only will the DPR team continue to reshape Austin’s fast-changing skyline, but it will keep innovating and challenging itself to find ways to do it more efficiently.

DPR team photo
As it brings these creative prefabrication strategies to the Marriott Downtown Austin, not only will the DPR team continue to reshape Austin’s fast-changing skyline, but it will keep innovating and challenging itself to find ways to do it more efficiently. Photo courtesy of Nick Sultenfuss

April 5, 2018

PG&E Gas Safety Academy Uses Simulators and Hands-on Scenarios to Field-Train and Educate Employees

Photo of employees outside the PG&E Gas Safety Academy.
The PG&E Gas Safety Academy is the primary training center for employees learning to operate and maintain every aspect of the company’s natural gas infrastructure. Photo courtesy of David Wakely

In the small town of Winters, California, on 40 acres of former tomato fields and apricot orchards, is the PG&E Gas Safety Academy, a training center that will make California a safer place. One of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the U.S., PG&E will use the facility as its primary training center for employees learning to operate and maintain every aspect of the company’s natural gas infrastructure.

After breaking ground in fall 2015 and completing in winter 2017, the Gas Safety Academy becomes the third in a series of gas safety facilities opened by PG&E since 2013. The academy uses simulators, virtual learning resources and hands-on scenarios to field-train and educate employees about gas transmission and distribution pipelines, meter maintenance, heavy equipment operation, welding pressure control and excavation, among other curriculum. The academy is a constant reminder of the importance of education, safety and the critical role PG&E employees play in keeping customers safe while delivering reliable service.

Image of PGE Gas Safety Facility.
The academy uses simulators, virtual learning resources and hands-on scenarios to field-train and educate employees about gas transmission and distribution pipelines, meter maintenance, heavy equipment operation, welding pressure control and excavation, among other curriculum. Photo courtesy of David Wakely

“This one-of-a-kind training facility not only represented a complex, technical project, but also reflected many of DPR’s own values,” said project manager Ian Bolnik. “Safety, integrity, and self-initiated change while striving for continuous improvement in quality and service are tenets that motivated us every day as we built the gas safety academy, which will foster the same principles for its trainees.”

Mirroring its customer’s commitment to safety, the DPR team (including subcontractors) completed more than 140,000 hours of work with no recordable incidents, as it built the $82 million, 96,000-sq.-ft. facility during Northern California’s wettest winter on record (National Weather Service). Bordered on two sides by a Caltrans drainage canal, the site was used as a contingency relief area during years with heavy rain. According to drainage studies completed in the 1970s, if the water levels in nearby Putah Creek were too high for the canals to drain excess water into, the water would back up onto the tomato field. Prior to the start of construction, a civil engineer coordinated with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to create a diversion channel and remap the site. To avoid impacting schedule, DPR found a solution to raise the building pads by 6 inches to get them above the flood plain, allowing construction to begin.

Mirroring its customer’s commitment to safety, the DPR team (including subcontractors) completed more than 140,000 hours of work with no recordable incidents, as it built the $82 million, 96,000-sq.ft. facility during Northern California’s wettest winter on record. Photo courtesy of David Wakely

Because of its various labs and simulators, the academy has a uniquely large amount of both gas and high-pressure compressed air below grade, as well as inside the building, which was installed by PG&E’s own crews. This amount of gas and compressed air is typically installed beneath roads, not under active construction sites. The DPR team engaged with PG&E subject matter experts and coordinated with other utilities to ensure that the infrastructure beneath the facility was installed safely.

PG&E employees will be trained in three distinct buildings on the campus:

  • The Learning Center: In addition to eight classrooms, a simulator room, and electrical workshop, the learning center includes a flow lab for high pressure gas simulation and gas chromatography, where employees gain hands-on experience in regulating and monitoring the pressure and flow of natural gas. A focal point of the facility, the flow lab contains large, 46-ft. long pipes that have nearly every valve that PG&E technicians might encounter in the field on transmission and distribution gas lines. The pipes are pressurized by a large 300-horsepower air compressor, about the size of an SUV, capable of reaching pressure between 700-800 PSI, allowing PG&E to train their technicians under real-world conditions without the hazards of actual gas.
  • Transmission & Distribution Tech Center: This area includes a utility worker covered training area, plastic fusion lab and an industrial safety at heights training area, giving students a simulation experience on trucks and excavation machinery used in the field.
  • Weld Lab: The lab accommodates apprentice welders during three-year apprenticeships.
Labs create real-life scenarios to train gas service representatives about different types of equipment they might encounter at residences. Photo courtesy of David Wakely

Outdoor training areas include the Utility Village, made up of 15 small homes to create near real-life conditions of emergency response and leak detection training for gas service representatives, the people who would come to customers’ homes if someone thought they smelled gas. At the mock neighborhood of single-family residences, duplexes and apartments, technicians practice everything from soft skills such as knocking on the doors of homes, to the technical skills of detecting, stopping and repairing gas leaks.

Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, the academy has reduced water usage by 35 percent, energy usage by over 20 percent and recycled 75 percent of construction waste. Other sustainable features include the site’s stormwater management, as well as sunshade louvers on exterior windows, deep overhangs and covered outdoor areas on the building’s south side.

Employing 150 people, the academy provides nearly 36,000 hours of training each year as PG&E trains its next generation of energy experts. Through its commitment to continuous improvement, the academy will create ripple effects throughout the state as its graduates create safer gas and electric transmission and distribution lines, making California a better place to live for all.

Employing 150 people, the academy provides nearly 36,000 hours of training each year as PG&E trains its next generation of energy experts. Photo courtesy of David Wakely

July 12, 2017

Safety Spotlight: Standing Down for Safety

More than 10,500 people across 140 jobsites celebrated National Construction Safety Week and participated in OSHA’s 2017 National Safety Stand-Down this year.

DPR has participated in the National Safety Stand-Down since its inception four years ago, with company-wide efforts to educate our teams about how everyone has a role in safety, to make sure that every employee returns home to their family each night. 

This year, DPR nearly doubled its number of participants from the past two years. In 2015, 6,670 people participated across 79 DPR jobsites; in 2016, that number increased to 9,444 participants across 130 jobsites. This year, the stand-down included 10,503 participants across 140 jobsites nationwide.

The purpose of the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down is to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction:

  • PLAN ahead to get the job done safely
  • PROVIDE the right equipment
  • TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely
Photo courtesy of Tom Bonner

As one of the safest contractors in the nation, DPR is committed to promoting and nurturing an Injury-Free Environment (IFE), with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project. Participation in the annual Safety Stand-Down is a way for DPR to strengthen its culture of safety. Thank you to all who make safety a value at DPR every day!

November 29, 2016

Bringing Together BIM and Virtual Reality to Prevent Injuries

Safety is a value, not a priority. Priorities can change over time, but value systems remain constant. As a part of building our culture of safety, DPR is piloting technology from Human Condition Safety (HCS), a workplace wearables startup that is creating a suite of tools that helps craft workers and their managers prevent injuries before they happen.

Used on select DPR project sites in Sacramento and the Bay Area, the HCS technology incorporates wearable devices that disappear into traditional safety clothing, artificial intelligence, BIM and cloud computing to create an ecosystem that keeps workers safe.

A DPR team performs tasks with HCS wearable devices embedded in traditional safety clothing. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Savosnick

HCS software develops deep insights about safety and efficiency, and can identify safety issues in real-time, as well as predict future events. HCS focuses on activities and repetitive motion to pose the question, what can be prevented right now, and what can be prevented in the future?

Read more about how we’re using wearable devices to prevent injuries before they happen in the DPR Review

October 6, 2016

Fire Prevention Week: Fire Safety Begins at Home!

Fire safety is important every day of the year, at home and on our jobsites.

The longest running public health and safety observance on record, Fire Prevention Week began in 1922, and has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls since then, aiming to educate citizens with the information they need to prevent death, injury, property and economic loss caused by fires.   

145 years ago from October 8-9, 1871, what is now known as the Great Chicago Fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres, forever changing the way that firefighters, public officials and citizens thought about fire safety.


Smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years. (Image courtesy National Fire Protection Association)

Fire safety begins at home. Being informed about the basics could make a difference in protecting you wherever you are – at home, school or work. Below are a few fire safety tips:

  • Check your smoke detector battery: Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms, or no functioning smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half, but when they fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are disconnected or dead. Replace your smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Have an escape plan: Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep. Have an escape plan that includes: two different ways out, someone assigned to help those that need help getting out, someone assigned to call 911 and a safe meeting place outside of the house.
  • Cook with care: Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment. Never leave cooking unattended, wear clothes with short, rolled-up or tight-fitting sleeves and turn pot/pan handles inward on the stove so they can’t be accidentally bumped.  
  • Heat with caution: Just over half of home heating fire deaths result from fires caused by heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding. Keep portable heaters and space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn; unplug them when not in use.
  • Use electricity safely:  Failures or malfunctions in wiring, cords, lighting and other electrical equipment caused an estimated 44,900 home fires in 2013, resulting in 410 deaths and $1.3 billion in direct property damage. Avoid using extension cords when possible, never run them under rugs or carpet and replace and frayed or cracked extension cords. Don’t tamper with your fuse box of use improper-size fuses.

Fires are fast-moving and ever-changing situations, so practice, be prepared and communicate with your loved ones. Safety is a value at DPR, and we want each and every employee to stay safe wherever they are – whether it’s at home or on the jobsite.

More detailed fire safety tips can be found at the National Fire Protection Association.

*All statistics courtesy National Fire Protection Association

May 26, 2016

Standing Together, Standing Down

On May 2nd, 9,402 participants across 129 DPR jobsites and offices joined together to take part in OSHA’s 2016 National Safety Stand-Down campaign. As OSHA’s third National Safety Stand-Down—and our third year participating—we grew our involvement by more than 2,700 people, raising awareness about fall protection in the construction industry. 

As one of the safest contractors in the nation, we’re committed to promoting and nurturing an Injury-Free Environment (IFE), with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project. Participation in the annual Safety Stand-Down is a way for us to strengthen our culture of safety.

Check out the following video capturing Stand-Down events spanning DPR jobsites and offices across the country. 

May 19, 2016

Plan. Provide. Train

In 2014, there were 349 fatalities from falls in the construction industry – almost one worker per day – according to OSHA. These are fellow workers, trying to build a better future, no different than each one of us.

DPR is proud to participate in OSHA’s third annual National Safety Stand-Down on May 2nd. Following OSHA’s plan to raise awareness on preventing falls in construction, our offices and jobsites across the country took part in the campaign educating trade partners, owners and DPR employees on the importance of fall protection:

PLAN ahead to get the job done safely. Take the time to plan out your work each day.

PROVIDE the right equipment. For all employees, for all tasks.

TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely. No matter how small or minor an issue may seem, it isn’t Nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to safety.

Fall protection saves lives. At DPR, we’re committed to promoting and nurturing an Injury-Free Environment, with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project. Because at the end of the day, there is someone that counts on you to come home safe. 


Employees and trade partners watch fall protection demonstrations in Tampa, Florida. 


On the same jobsite in Tampa, workers share family photos as a reminder on the importance to make it safely home each day. 


A jobsite team in Virginia stands down during OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down campaign. 

May 4, 2016

Before You Climb

Falls can be prevented, and lives can be saved. This message resonated across all DPR Construction jobsites and offices on May 2nd, as part of OSHA’s 2016 National Safety Stand-Down campaign.

Demonstrating the importance of safety in the workplace, DPR held Safety Stand-Down initiatives including presentations, guest speakers, and discussions about proper equipment use to prevent falls from heights including scaffolds, roofs and ladders.

The following are a few safety tips to keep in mind, related to preventing falls from all types of ladders:

  • Always wear slip-resistant footwear
  • Keep the ladder rungs free of oil and grease
  • Always go up and down facing the ladder, holding on with both hands
  • While working, hold on to the ladder with one hand at all times
  • Use a tool belt or a bucket attached to a hand line to pull tools up
  • Never use a metal ladder when working with electrical current

No matter if we’re working on a new construction project, an interior buildout, or in the office, we all have the right to a safe workplace, and the right to return home to our loved ones each and every day. 

Safety Stand-Down participants at a jobsite in Orlando discuss fall prevention from ladders and scaffolds.

In the office, DPR employees in Redwood City learn ways to prevent falls at home. 

March 10, 2016

Setting the Course for Safety Success

Creating an environment that encourages each person on the jobsite to be responsible for not only themselves, but for others around them, is vital to successfully completing an injury-free project. DPR’s Mid-Atlantic region recently completed two projects—a data center in Ashburn, Va. and the Inova Ashburn Healthplex— where safety was clearly communicated as a value throughout the project, which set the teams up to reach a combined 21 months of work injury-free.

To provide insight into how these projects reached completion injury-free, Project Manager Josh Bronitsky and Superintendent Bob Akers shared their thoughts on what they believe contributed to their success.

Overall, both project teams identified communication, discipline and a project-wide commitment to safety as major factors in creating an injury-free environment.

“Communication with the workers on site, specifically regarding the standards and expectations we have, is necessary,” said Bob. “In addition, it’s important to create a disciplined zero tolerance for unsafe behavior approach. If a rule is established during the initial job orientation, you must follow through and be consistent. Fairness matters to the men and women working. Whether it is different subcontractors or jobsite visitors, make sure everybody is held to the same standards.”

Both Josh and Bob believe that to create this safety-centric environment, everyone tied to the job in any way is a key player. Josh saw that to be successful, the individual workers must first believe that safety is a value, followed by the commitment from crew foremen, project leadership and all subcontractors on site.

“We were able to establish trust with our subcontractor partners around safety concepts early on,” said Josh. “They understood that our desire for a safe work environment was more than just a motto on a sign. When any hazardous conditions presented themselves, the subs reported immediately to DPR for direction. DPR was able to provide a safe alternative for the owner as well as educating them as to why we considered the situation hazardous.”

To create the culture of safety as a value, Josh and Bob also utilized practices such as daily meetings with the foremen to discuss safety issues, worker orientations, online safety inspections through Safetynet, and even hiring at least one full-time laborer focused on keeping the space tidy. In addition, Bob made sure to get to know the individual workers on a personal level and to communicate the overall goal of the project so they could understand the importance of what they are doing.

“One interesting practice we implemented was requiring the subcontractor’s safety professionals to report to the DPR trailer and submit their safety report face-to-face,” said Josh. “Often, these professionals come out to the jobsite, meet with their crews, suggest improvements, and then leave. We felt it was an opportunity we’d be missing out on to grow the relationships and learn from each other if we did not utilize their trade-specific expertise to understand what they felt needed to be improved. This is something that I’ll carry with me to future projects.”

At the end of the day, creating an injury-free environment will not be successful without the commitment from every person on the job. Because of that, the DPR Mid-Atlantic teams found that it is most important to have everybody on the jobsite feel like they are truly part of a team and how they are making a difference. Beginning with that, the culture of putting safety first spreads and ultimately helps ensure that every person goes home safe.

February 29, 2016

Making Safety Personal

When it comes to safety, good or even great is never enough. DPR projects across the country continually look for safety ideas that encourage teams to change behaviors and achieve DPR’s zero incidents goal.

At the Arizona State University (ASU) Arizona Center for Law and Society (ACLS) in Phoenix, the team is going above and beyond to optimize jobsite safety by implementing creative new practices. For example:

  • Plus/delta sessions: Lunch-time brainstorming sessions where safety ideas are discussed, such as making filtered water more readily available to workers for hydration in the hot Arizona weather to procuring a specific knuckle boom lift that helped the plumbers do their job more safely.
  • Safety recognition stickers: On regular safety job walks, the ACLS leadership hands out stickers to those who demonstrate exemplary safety practices in the field. 
  • Acting on leading indicators: Before performing work, the crews fill out a pre-task plan that outlines how they will execute their assigned task in the safest manner possible. At the end of each week, these plans are reviewed and the three that demonstrate the most thorough safety action plans are awarded with free lunches. Those winning pre-task plans are then shared with the rest of the project team as an opportunity for learning. 

Safety results on the project speak volumes for the success of the team, as they make safety a value on site. In October, the team held a safety milestone barbeque for 270 people, celebrating 300,000 hours worked with a zero lost-time incident rate.

Read more about safety on the ACLS site here