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.