Walk onto any jobsite and chances are you will see a sign indicating how many total days the jobsite has been accident free. This sign symbolizes the significant time and resources contractors invest in their safety programs in order to keep their employees safe and the jobsite free of accidents.

To identify contractors that emphasize jobsite safety, the American Society of Concrete Contractors' (ASCC) W. Burr Bennett Award for Safety Excellence recognizes one general contractor and one specialty contractor each year.

At the 2009 ASCC Annual Meeting, the W. Burr Bennett Award was given to McCarthy Building, St. Louis, in the general contractor category; and Lewis Construction Inc., Schofield, Wis., was recognized in the specialty contractor category.

Both McCarthy Building and Lewis Construction demonstrate a commitment to safety, employee involvement in the safety program, active practice and dedication to safety throughout the entire company, and effective controls over major exposure to accidents and injuries.

Meeting these criteria is certainly a recognizable achievement, however, both companies went above and beyond, creating safety programs worthy of being emulated by other general and concrete contractors.

McCarthy Building

In business since 1864, McCarthy Building's safety program is “always improving,” according to Gary Amsinger, corporate vice president of safety. With 150 projects ongoing in 13 states and 1507 trade employees logging more than 6 million jobsite hours, your basic OSHA jobsite safety program is not going to be enough to keep employees safe. “Safety is more of an investment than a cost,” says Amsinger. “Our goal is to keep our employees safe, which also makes them productive.”

Employees warming up for the day's work activities as part of McCarthy's Soft Tissue Injury Prevention Program.
McCarthy Building Employees warming up for the day's work activities as part of McCarthy's Soft Tissue Injury Prevention Program.

Judges for the W. Burr Bennett Award for Safety Excellence recognized specific areas of McCarthy Building's safety program that includes training for company employees and also for subcontractors.

First, the company implements the national AGC Soft Tissue Injury Prevention Program across all its construction projects. The company also has been active in six OSHA programs covering 77% of their construction projects. To further send home the message, an annual letter highlighting the company's focus on safety is sent from the company's president Derek Glanvill to all 3000 employees and attendance by the divisional president and vice president is required at all root cause meetings. New company hires are mentored by veteran employees for further hands-on training and education.

These key safety measures help McCarthy Building achieve incidence rates that rank below the construction industry average.

Lewis Construction Inc.

When selecting Lewis Construction Inc. as the 2009 W. Burr Bennett Award for Safety Excellence in the specialty contractor category, the ASCC judges noted a number of outstanding criteria that made this safety program distinguishable.

First, the company conducts annual training based on needs assessment. The company has teamed with both its workman's compensation carrier and general liability provider to perform regular jobsite audits. Additionally, the company requires OSHA 10 certification for all employees, and OSHA 30 certification for all supervisors.

“Understanding our costs and how they affect an insurance premium was one motivator toward expanding our safety program,” says Sheri Jehn, vice president operations. “We understood that we needed to improve our program and have support for it from the owners to all employees.”

Lewis Construction honed its safety program with the assistance of its workman's compensation carrier's risk manager to include specific, detail-oriented safety measures. These included periodic safety meetings, specifically to outline the process from when the accident occurs on a jobsite to how this accident affects the company's finances. “This was our turning point—when the employees were able to understand the impact of an accident on the necessity of the company to pay out insurance premiums as opposed to having additional capital to upgrade equipment,” says Jehn.

Jehn mentions that each case was managed through a transitional Return to Work Program. “This was also key to our success to eliminate or reduce the cost of indemnity expenses. This program consists of continual communication to the employee and medical personnel to bring the employee back to work as soon as possible,” says Jehn.

The company also has a safety committee that regularly meets to evaluate needs, trends, and topics of concern. The forum provides for all levels of Lewis Construction to offer input toward increased safety. “Our process is multi-faceted and continues to evolve. Each employee represents a family that awaits their safe return from the jobsite. Our objective is to do whatever we can to return those employees to their families—safe and sound—every day,” says Jehn.

More resources

The ASCC Safety & Risk Management Council is dedicated to educating and training construction members on all aspects of safety. To learn more about the ASCC, its safety council, or the W. Burr Bennett Award for Safety Excellence, visit www.ascconline.org.