A Zero Injury Philosophy Works at Adolfson & Peterson Construction

11/01/2010
From EHS Today magazine, November 2010 www.ehstoday.com
By Sandy Smith
The Minneapolis commercial construction company celebrates two milestones this year: Reaching 3.5 million hours without a lost-time incident and being named one of America's Safest Companies.
 
The 600 employees of Adolfson & Peterson Construction know that they are entitled to a safe and healthy place to work. In fact, working in a safe manner —after being given the proper training, tools, personal protective equipment and management support to do so—is a condition of employment.
 
The result of this focus and dedication to EHS by employees and management alike has resulted in a milestone of 3.5 million hours without a lost-time incident reached in March 2010. The company's recordable rate is approximately one-tenth of the national average for its industry.
 
“Adolfson & Peterson creates a culture that all employees at all levels accept ownership of the safety performance objective of ‘zero injuries,’” said Fred Rippy, national safety director for the company, who called the company's safety standards “aggressive,” adding, “Safety is the first priority” on jobsites.
 
Rippy said that communication of the safety message is planned and delivered effectively through employee safety orientation, weekly toolbox talks, monthly safety topics, an intranet and safety news sent to employees via the Adolfson & Peterson email system. All field teams must have 30 hours of OSHA training before being promoted to project managers, foremen, assistant superintendents or superintendents, ensuring the safety information passed along to employees is accurate.
 
Safe lifestyles are promoted through wellness, physical health, off-the-job injury prevention and family involvement activities. Key elements of the safety process at Adolfson & Peterson include:
 
  • A letter from the vice president of operations to employees that emphasizes the importance of safety to the company.
  • An emergency action plan created for crisis situations
  • Employee safety orientation
  • Accident reporting and investigation
  • A fleet safety policy
  • The zero injury philosophy
  • Job hazard analysis
  • Hazard communication program
  • Project safety audits
Rippy said the company's safety record plays a large role in attracting property owners and developers who want to hire the contractor because safety plays such a large role when selecting general contractors. According to Rippy, these business and property owners want builders who control safety in all aspects of their operations, eliminating any liability issues.
 
“The difference between a near-miss and a fatality is 1 second, so it is important to create a mindset amongst all employees that makes them intolerant of any potentially unsafe situation,” said Rippy. “With our company's focus on safety, we are careful to prevent accidents by looking out for each other and taking action when we see potentially unsafe behaviors or conditions.”
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