We were honored to have recently received the Gold STEP (Safety Training and Evaluation Process) award from Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). While our insurance carriers have recognized us in the past for our safety record, this award carried special weight for us as it was a national recognition, and ABC is made up of thousands of our peers. There are over 22,000 ABC members representing more than 19,000 industry-related firms in the United States.
Qualifying for a Gold STEP award required meeting a very specific and comprehensive list of criteria. In addition to a questionnaire about our practices, we had to provide injury data, Experience Modification Rate and Incident Rate data, OSHA reports, and more. Members of ABC rated us based on these factors, the quality of our safety training, our substance abuse policy, and other relevant measurable items.
Mark Lambert, our Safety Director, says that achieving this award was a concerted effort by the entire KBS team. “I don’t feel as if it was my award,” he said. “It started at the top. Our management team is completely committed and we have their buy-in. You see that in our improved safety record. I work with our Safety Inspector, Christine Miller, to visit job sites and reinforce the importance of safety. The biggest factor is the commitment of our superintendents. We have the best in the business. They’ve truly created a ‘safety culture’ at each of our project sites.”
That ‘safety culture’ begins before we even break ground on a project. Our initial project planning strategies involve reducing injury and accident risk during a build. Employee training reinforces the importance of working safe. “The lost time an employee experiences due to an injury or accident is just the tip of the iceberg. Whether it’s a smashed finger or an accident that causes long-term absence, there are costs and ramifications below the water line,” Mark reminds us. Supervisors lose valuable time on the site. A new employee will have to be hired and trained, and there will be a reciprocal loss of productivity. There will be resultant costs for investigation, insurance, and possible OSHA fines. Improving our safety performance has all but eliminated these situations, and in addition to improving our employee morale and performance, we’re able to pass these cost savings on to our customers.
Mark is of the opinion that nothing is too mundane to warrant a closer look when it comes to safety. “We often have laborers who have been at this job for decades. Even the simplest of tasks can lead to an accident, and we strive to eliminate old habits and at-risk behaviors. We just don’t allow complacency when it comes to safety.”
As our industry has evolved, so has our safety program at KBS. A construction site is fraught with hazards, and working on one can be dangerous. Our emphasis on safety has now brought us a Gold STEP award. That award, however, has not distracted us. As long as there are accidents and injuries in our business, we’ll keep moving our bar higher.