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Construction Experts Share Concerns, Solutions on Work Site Safety at ASSE Event

Posted in on Mon, Nov 24, 2008

Des Plaines, IL (November 24, 2008) —
From developing and implementing a drug abuse program to hiring contractors with an effective safety culture to utilizing innovative programs were just a few of the topics discussed by construction industry experts from around the country at the recent American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Construction Safety Symposium in Arizona.

“I was impressed with the number of attendees who came from every corner of the U.S. to attend this symposium and their breadth of experience,” ASSE Regional Vice President James G. Gallup, P.E., CSP, of Rolf Jensen &Associates, Inc., of Prescott Valley, Arizona, said Friday. “It shows that the attendees and their respective companies are doing the right thing and were anxious to share their success stories here and learn of other new initiatives taking place in the industry resulting in construction projects being completed before deadline, injury free and saving millions of dollars.”

“What you bring to the job,” T. Shane Bush, CPT, president of BushCo., Inc., Idaho Falls, ID, told attendees, “is intellectual property – something that is skyrocketing in value in businesses. Your skills as safety professionals help you identify problems and develop solutions often preventing an injury or a disaster from occurring. Should an incident occur, you must continue to show leadership and look beyond the what to the why. Context is key.”

Symposium sessions included topics on leading indicators in safety management, crane safety, quick hazard recognitions, fall prevention, litigation issues, accident reporting, slips/trips and falls, and a panel discussion on big projects and their challenges. Becoming a profit center over a cost center was also a key topic.

“You can go from a cost center to a profit center by showing, in one way, how you as safety professionals help reduce your company’s workers compensation costs,” Dan P. O’Brien, CSP, of TX, and a presenter on leading indicators, said. “By doing your job you not only sustain your company’s good reputation and credibility but help manage and reduce employee health care and workers compensation costs, turnover and much, much more. In fact you help shore up and increase insurance reserves.”

“Because safety is our core value one of the results we have seen is that in five years our workers comp costs have been reduced by 70 percent,” John M. Isham, CSP, CIH, safety director of URS – Washington Division, of Denver, CO, told attendees during the big project presentation. “The pillars of our safety culture are integrity and candor, safety, accountability and responsibility, cooperation and efficiency, and competence and professional behavior. We have 25,000 employees in 40 states and 30 countries; have managed 84 million exposure hours with a total recordable case rate of .80, and a .10 days away case rate.”

Isham presented an overview of the multi-year, multi-million dollar project called the Olmstead Dam project. The project is one of the largest U.S. civil projects in the country where they are building a 2,700 foot concrete dam across the Ohio River on one of the busiest waterway corridors in the U.S., a major commerce throughway.

“Olmstead dam is where the busiest stretch of commercial navigation for inland waterways is located,” Isham said. “Our project involves working with several cranes including a gantry crane that lifts 5100 tons and barges including a catamaran barge that can lift 4500 tons and an Aquadigger with an 85 foot reach.”

Isham noted the many challenges in working ‘in the wet’ but said because of their focus on safety, planning, training and communications the project has been going very well.

URS’s Olmstead Dam safety program includes monthly safety walks, kickoff safety orientations, key personnel certifications including Safety Trained Supervisors (STS), CSPs, OHSTs and CHSTs, an active safety committee, ongoing safety communications including monthly banner/poster program and a companywide stretch and flex program that has resulted in a reduction of soft tissue injury rates by 15 – 20 percent.

Speaker Jay Greenspan, JMJ Associates of Austin, TX, noted another illustration of how an effective safety process resulted in the savings of millions of dollars for one company. “As a result of a large U.S. oil company, Chevron, going above and beyond when it came to safety in building a large multi-billion dollar plant in the Middle East, they finished the project three months ahead of time, 20 million dollars under budget and setting a company record,” Greenspan said. “They had 13 million hours of work with only three recorded injuries. How? They put safety first, treated all workers equally, and provided training in all languages, personal protection equipment, great working conditions and much, much more.

“Management needs to know, like Chevron, URS and Skanska know, that profitability is credibility when it comes to safety,” Greenspan said. “The safety department is a profit center, not just a cost center. Paul O’Neill formerly at Alcoa knew it. By investing in safety and workers you lower costs and increase profit while keeping employees and customers happy.”

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE and its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members are committed to protecting people, property and the environment. For copies of the presentations and more information on the “Solutions in Construction Safety Symposium” please go to www.asse.org.



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