Stories

What's the Word: World-Class EHS

This article is included in the Great Things: Issue 9 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

What's the word?

Safety is a value at DPR. It's rooted in the belief that safety, quality and schedule are not mutually exclusive and that having zero incidents is an achievable goal. Being safe is much more than the absence of injury. It's about learning, noticing, appreciating, encouraging and engaging. Truly great Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is about people who build great things safely every day. Great Things asked safety professionals across the company to describe what world-class EHS means to them.

In their words
Alondra Navarro

Safety is about coming home the same way that I came in. I do my safety walks every morning – I make sure everyone has their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on, and ask questions to get them into the thinking mode of 'maybe I forgot this' or 'I didn’t know I needed that'. I guide them in the right direction. We get into that rhythm so we all work together towards the same goal.

At DPR, our culture focuses on people – it’s about the worker, the foreman, the leadership all working together to provide guidance on safe working practices. It’s all up to us.

— Alondra Navarro


Erich Spelman

World Class EHS is a system structured to help individuals understand the hazards they are working around and what processes they use to eliminate those hazards. Documented experience is then used as a benchmark to start the conversation in and through the implementation of safe work practices. When a strong EHS environment is in place everyone feels a responsibility towards the others they are working around and organically maintains the culture through clear and open lines of communication.

World Class EHS in action is when walls are brought down and we can have real conversations with each other. Our team held daily planning sessions to provide our trade partners with an opportunity to voice their concerns, give ear to what others around them were doing and where, and explain what their work plan looked like. The magic happened when a tradesman, not involved in the daily huddles, was impacted richly by the interaction of our field staff who led conversations around the details of the work being done and navigating the team doing the work away from hazards.

What was most impactful to us was when the individual said that he was going to take these skills to the next job, and the next job, and the next job. It’s not hard to show people that you care and when they see you do care…they feel empowered to change the world!

— Erich Spelman


Michelle Gray

World-class safety is every person on a project taking ownership for EHS. It is a continuous drive toward improving and implementing processes and controls that will allow everyone to make it home better for having worked on a DPR project—through better relationships, knowledge gained and connectedness to our people and communities.

— Michelle Gray


Lance Wafler

World-class EHS is when the families of the people on our jobs know their loved one will be treated with respect, care and concern for their wellbeing.

The construction industry is constantly evolving, making World class EHS a challenging prospect. Providing education to a busy workforce, keeping up with advancements in technical safety equipment, and hazard recognition when installing prefabricated elements are all topics of today. If we root our planning, decision making and execution of our projects in respect, care and concern for our team members we will always be viewed as world-class.

An example would be the Memorial Cancer Institute Team in South Florida—they came together and produced a team safety orientation video. It was an awesome example of a team being all in on safety and making it personal.

Each of the team members, including our Self-Perform Work (SPW) crew, took a section of the video. They really did a great job of explaining why safety is a value at DPR and, more importantly, why safety is a value to them personally. Not only did the video give them an opportunity to introduce themselves and their roles on the project, but they also covered site specific requirements and logistical challenges. The most impressive outcome was the team bond created during the filming. That bond began at the start of the project and was carried through the duration of the job. EHS was the glue that started in all!

— Lance Wafler


Nancy Martinez

I’m part of the black hat safety program; we are advocates for safety in the field. Part of what I do is a Pre-Task Plan (PTP)--essentially a 360-degree view of safety on the jobsite. I walk the area before we do work, and plan staging, who is going to be where, who might be doing work overhead, etc.

Safety is about prevention through design. We design the building so that it’s accessible and safe for the team that comes on in the next stage of the process. For example, clear walking paths, even surfaces and accessible panels with nothing in front of them.

Ultimately, safety is a way of life. It’s about not feeling like I should be safe just because someone tells me to—I want to be safe, and I want everyone around me to be safe. Every human on the jobsite deserves to be safe.

— Nancy Martinez


Lonnie Schock

For me, world-class safety on a project means that I would have no hesitation having my children onsite. We recognize that it is not only about the absence of injury, but also about the presence of positive things – healthier, fulfilled teams, and professional development opportunities.

It is critically important to personalize our efforts when it comes to safety. There are subtle yet essential things that I look for in terms of a safe environment: workers that clearly trust each other, clear and clean working conditions, as well as good planning of things like traffic management, materials management and laydown storage, parking for craft, clean lunch areas, plumbed bathrooms and/or running water for hygiene.

— Lonnie Schock

Two workers wearing PPE walk on a jobsite with other workers in the background.

EHS is more than a program at DPR—it’s a foundational pillar of how we do business.

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