Change in the way we look at safety in construction comes not through procedures and programs, insists Scott Greenhaus, but through the commitment and engagement of a company’s leaders at the highest level. The objective is to move safety from something to be complied with to something that is truly believed in.
Two years ago, the American Society of Concrete Contractors issued a new strategic plan with Goal #1 being to “increase the number of owners who truly demonstrate a personal commitment to safety.” As director of ASCC’s Safety & Risk Management Council, Greenhaus is the point of the arrow aimed at the heart of that goal. As a career-long employee of the Structural Group, he has seen the change in attitude toward safety from up close. “Safety is not an abstraction to me,” he says. “I understand personally how it affects both people and companies. Over the years, I’ve seen attitudes change in our industry. There’s an awareness that accidents don’t just happen—injuries can be prevented. We have matured to where we better understand that safe, healthy, motivated employees are more productive and more effective. Especially among younger people, our future leaders, there’s an expectation of respect and more interaction, and that we can work in smarter, more efficient ways. And that bleeds over into safety.”
Greenhaus came to the concrete industry as a University of Maryland civil engineering student doing a co-op program with what was then Structural Preservation Inc. “I got to see big construction projects and the energy and excitement made me realize construction was for me. When I graduated Peter Emmons hired me and I’ve been there ever since,” he says.
At the fall 2015 ASCC conference, Greenhaus introduced what he calls a behavior-based safety program to some concrete construction industry leaders. This day-and-a-half-long program was developed by Cemex for their employees but they have given it to ASCC as a sign of their commitment to safety across the industry.
“The key is to actively engage company leaders,” says Greenhaus. “We are moving from a world of compliance to one of belief that we don’t do this because we have to but because it’s the right thing to do for our people and for our businesses. We believe this can make a difference, that we can take ASCC members to another level.”