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For Better Safety Performance, Look to Your C-Suite

An ABC report finds that commitment from top management dramatically reduces incidents.

If your TRIR rate and DART score aren’t what you’d like them to be, ask yourself this: Do your senior executives live and breathe your company’s safety program? Are they talking about, and demonstrating through their actions, the value they put on safety day in and day out?

In short, commitment and involvement at the highest levels of the company are key to safety performance.

RELATED: 6 Components of a World-Class Safety Program

The Associated Builders and Contractors’ 2019 Safety Performance Report bears that idea out. Data from ABC members who follow the organization’s safety management system STEP indicate that total recordable incident rate (TRIR) can be reduced by as much as 63 percent, and days away, reassigned or transferred (DART) scores by 64 percent, when the highest level of company management is actively involved in promoting the company’s safety program.

To achieve those results, company leaders need to create a culture in which employees are passionate about safety and consider it a moral obligation for themselves and everyone else.

Your company leaders demonstrate a true commitment to safety when they:

  • Actively participate in the company’s safety program. Lead by example. If you’re on a jobsite, wear a hard hat or helmet and appropriate footwear. Talk to field workers about proper safety procedures. Make safety the first item on the agenda at every meeting.
  • Invest the time, money and resources to make the program effective. Does your team have enough money to replace worn or outdated PPE? Do you allow enough time for field supervisors to reinforce safety messages each day, and for employees to get important safety training?
  • Request feedback on the safety program and use it to make improvements. Take every opportunity to discuss safety. If your operations vice president is stopping by a jobsite to check on progress, he or she should take a few minutes to ask the field superintendents and workers if they have any safety concerns. Since workers might be hesitant to talk in front of their boss or coworkers, create a way for them to communicate their concerns without fear of reprisal.
  • Track and regularly review progress against safety goals. You can’t improve your safety program if you don’t measure its effectiveness. Establish metrics to track and, during regular safety program reviews, identify the areas that most need improvement. Make changes accordingly.
  • Make everyone in the company personally responsible for safety. Safety isn’t the responsibility of managers and field superintendents only. Everyone needs to take ownership. You can reinforce that message by giving employees stop-work authority, for example, and by recognizing employees and teams that meet or exceed safety and health goals.
  • Integrate safety into all of your company’s operations. Whenever you’re making a decision, consider the safety implications. Investing in a new piece of equipment? What additional training will your workers need to operate it safely? Preparing a bid? Remember to add money for safety training into your labor rates.

RELATED: How Often Do You Review Your Safety Program’s Performance?

When leaders demonstrate their commitment to safety each and every day, they are establishing a culture of safety that will ultimately benefit everyone in the company, from the executive in the C-suite to the laborer in the field, as well as the bottom line.


Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.

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