Think Different: The Power of an Engaged Workforce

This article is included in the Fall/Winter 2012 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

When we first started DPR 22 years ago, the industry was measuring safety performance by the number of lost-time injuries on a project. Today, we have shifted that conversation to injury-free environments by setting a goal of zero accidents and nurturing a culture of safety that focuses on supporting people and correcting behaviors over rules and regulations.

Our approach has resulted in one of the lowest incident rates and Experience Modifier Rates (EMRs) in the nation year after year. In fact, over the last 15 years, DPR’s incident rate has been well below 50 percent of the industry average, and over the last three years, DPR has averaged an overall recordable incident rate of 1.11 based on more than 4.3 million hours worked. In addition, Rodney Spencley, who has led DPR’s Injury-Free Environment (IFE) program since 1993, received this year’s Construction Employers’ Association’s Leadership in Safety Award.

These results are really a tribute to our safety professionals and project teams, who inspire and coach rather than enforce and direct. For example, the safety professional on a large-scale hospital project in Oakland, CA, started a “T-shirt you earn, not a T-shirt you win” program and creates custom shirts for the craft who demonstrate an above and beyond approach to safety on the job. The shirt has a picture of the person’s family printed on it with the words, “Together with DPR, I work safe and they [his/her family] count on it.”

By focusing on the people, education and training, we have been able to engage thousands of workers across the country in our quest for keeping people safe. Our teams develop detailed pre-task plans and conduct root-cause analysis to capture lessons learned to prevent injuries from happening again. We also continue to study how our discipline around safety and our focus on changing behaviors tie closely to higher quality and better workflow on our projects.

Our culture of safety has evolved. What hasn’t changed is the leadership and discipline required to take project excellence to a new level—delivering better outcomes and standards of performance.

Visit to view a video of DPR’s Rodney Spencley on safety.