The Madison Concrete crew convenes for a safety meeting with Jim Dolente Sr., chairman of the board, center. Holding preplanned, weekly safety meetings is a good way to keep safety top of mind.
Madison Concrete The Madison Concrete crew convenes for a safety meeting with Jim Dolente Sr., chairman of the board, center. Holding preplanned, weekly safety meetings is a good way to keep safety top of mind.

In 2014, one out of every five worker fatalities occurred on construction sites, most often from falls, electrocution, being struck by an object, and getting caught in or between objects or equipment. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, eliminating those four fatal hazards would save 508 workers' lives in America every year.

In Philadelphia, Madison Concrete Construction has higher ambitions. The construction company is working to eliminate injuries of any kind, at any given job.

Madison has partnered with its insurance provider, The Graham Company, to implement the Kairos Safety Commitment Model. The insurance broker launched the safety program in June 2015 to help clients in high-risk industries construct of culture of safety that aims for zero accidents and zero injuries.

“Safety has been one of our cornerstones during our entire existence, but we approached it job by job, superintendent by superintendent,” says Jim Dolente Sr., chairman of the board at Madison Concrete. “The Kairos safety program takes safety beyond mere compliance to something all-encompassing that requires buy-in from every employee. It’s about coming together as a collective whole, so all employees are committed.””

The program goes beyond traditional safety meetings to incorporate safety procedures into a company’s culture, so that they become a natural part of daily activities. This is done through (1) teamwork, (2) a learning and growing environment, and (3) proactive versus reactive modeling. Participation is expected at every level of the organization, from executive staff to field workers. However, the program is implemented from the top down so managers can verbalize the message of safety to staff and lead by example.

“We’ve teamed up with a leading behavioral psychologist in the development of this process and identified sustainable and effective means to improve the safety performance of organizations,” says Mark Troxell, vice president of safety services with The Graham Company. “By taking employees through the learning and practical application of the Kairos Safety Commitment Model, we can facilitate a culture change that will improve an organization’s safety performance. More importantly, we can create an employee base that truly understands what it means to commit to working safely.”

Assessing safety practices
The first step involved Madison leadership meeting with Graham staff several times to gain a thorough understanding of the program. Shortly after those meetings, Graham surveyed all Madison employees about safety procedures. Approximately 215 employees answered more than 40 multiple-choice questions, which helped identify the company’s strengths as well as areas that need improvement.

Collaborative, optimal teamwork
Next, Madison formed a 30-person team that includes staff members from all levels: executive managers, project managers, superintendents, foremen, journeymen and other field staff. This team meets once a month, in the beginning to learn about the program and later for training. During meetings, the team breaks into two groups to separately tackle safety issues and then come back together to share solutions.

“The team met several times before we implemented the program companywide,” says Dolente. “Their meetings have generated a lot of open discussion about what we’re good at and where we can improve.”

Teamwork is an important element of the Kairos program. According to The Graham Company, optimal teamwork not only means staff members on all levels work collaboratively to solve an issue, but also includes:· Frequent briefings and debriefings with all staff when investigating a reported concern.
· An assessment of team dynamics and any team-building activities needed to move forward in building a culture of safety.

A learning and growing environment
The number of safety risks can be high in construction, but when companies address risk from within a culture of safety, they can take measures to prevent undesired outcomes. The Graham Company advises that, to learn from incidents, the evaluating team must first determine if an incident was caused by error, poor judgment, or disregard for standards. The answer can lead to more effective protocols or even to “peer checks” that ensure co-workers are mutually responsible for compliance with all safety standards.

Predictive modeling
The Kairos program trains employees and supervisors to change their focus to be more predictive or proactive when responding to risks. With a predictive focus, failure to follow safety protocols is handled in the same manner, regardless of whether there is an adverse outcome or not. Proactive approaches may include employees reporting potential risks or taking immediate action to eliminate risks they see.

In addition, the organization should proactively ensure the culture of safety by: · Detailing compliance with safety procedures in job descriptions
· Reviewing safety procedures during onboarding of new employees
· Highlighting safety procedures during monthly/annual safety training
· Measuring compliance with procedures during the 90-day and annual review processes.

“We also are asking everyone to tell us why we should be safe—who are we being safe for? Whether the answer is a spouse, child or another family member, we want employees to have reasons besides themselves, so they can have a higher motivation for safety,” says Dolente.

Measuring success
It is critical to set benchmarks and tools to measure the effectiveness of your company’s safety culture over time. Here are a few indicators that your culture is working:
· Increase in timeliness of employee incident reports (prompt reporting means employees are not hesitant to make a report, and supervisors are responsive)
· Decreased workers’ compensation costs
· Increase in employees reporting risks (before they become incidents)
· Increased employee satisfaction
· Increased employee retention.

Madison Concrete Construction implemented the Kairos safety program companywide in May. “Our ultimate goal, of course, is to continue to make safety an intrinsic part of what we do and who we are,” says Dolente.

For more on Madison Concrete Construction and The Graham Company, visit and