Ed Bell Construction Company was honored at the recent AGC National Convention with First Place in the Highway and Transportation Under 800,000 Manhours Division of the Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA). Ed Bell Construction Company has won a CSEA three out of the four years they have applied. According to the AGC CSEA website, the selection process is extremely comprehensive and analyzes essential parts of applicant companies’ safety programs, including “company management commitment, active employee participation, safety training, work site hazard identification and control, and safety program innovation.” Kerry Hurd, Director of Safety at EBCC, comments that winning an AGC award, “holds a lot of weight” in the construction industry. “Construction is competitive” Hurd explains, “we are constantly bidding for projects. County jobs sometimes look for the best contractor. They take into account your reputation and years of experience. A couple of times we had the second highest bid, but won the contract because of our reputation.”
Ed Bell Construction Company’s reputation is spelled out on their webpage, “Safety as a Culture- Home Safe. Every Person. Every Shift.” Tasked with creating this “Culture of Safety,” Kerry Hurd, comments that winning the award this year was “a Team Effort.” Hurd has been the Director of Safety at Ed Bell Construction Company for six years. In those six years, he feels his team has succeeded in establishing safety maintenance and upkeep, and the only fight now is against complacency. “People are uncomfortable with doing things in an unsafe way” Hurd says, “they see the reward from active safety.” Hurd claims that his success as Director of Safety, is only possible through the success of the individual workers. “If someone is fired for doing something unsafe,” claims Hurd “then it means I did something wrong. In a culture of safety, the need is for managers to be teaching, not reprimanding.” This mindset illustrates the foremost attributes outlined in the CSEA selection process.
Hurd’s understanding of Safety Culture, and the imperative need for it to saturate the workplace, is the culmination of a career of safety management. Starting out over twenty years ago with his first construction job, tunneling work on the subway system in LA, Hurd still regards his work there as one of hallmarks of his career. Hurd remarks about this fledgling experience, “safety was presumed. You didn’t play around with safety, but took care of things to the ‘T’. OSHA compliance was everywhere, if something was off, you would get sued.” Starting out in such a safety pervasive environment disciplined Hurd, and taught him to share this discipline with others, preparing him to be the self-titled “Salesman for Safety” that he is today. Kerry Hurd states simply about his ability to share this mindset with his workers, “Everyone has a meeting with me during new-hire orientation, and I explain that letting everyone do what they want means an unsafe environment. We’ve had a couple guys leave because they got tired of all the ‘rules,’ and come back after a couple months because they saw what the alternative was, and didn’t like it.” No doubt EBCC’s team’s competency for safety imperatives is strengthened by reinforcement from the individual worker, the management, and company president combined.
One factor which has enabled Kerry Hurd in his desire to further safety compliance amidst his team is the growing partnership with SafetyStratus. Through use of the software, Hurd is able to enforce the latter attributes looked for in the CSEA award process, that of work site hazard identification and control, and safety program innovation. Hurd states that the most common way he employs SafetyStratus software is running a report for the top five deficiencies in EBCC’s safety program every quarter. In Hurd’s words, the SafetyStratus Platform uses “real numbers and data. The team can share actual photos from on site, so you can see what needs to change.” Hurd claims that, “challenging superintendents on safety roles is complicated for managers who have no field experience. However, miscommunications are reduced when you know what you are looking for, and can present visual evidence to all those involved. In this way, reinforcement is put into practice, as the most common “problem areas” are emphasized for that quarter, so they can be fixed. Hurd claims that “following OSHA regulations can be simple, everything is on iPads now, so safety can be efficient.”
Partners like Ed Bell Construction Company and power-users like Kerry Hurd help to advance SafetyStratus’ goal of innovation in safety technology and how it is employed. Reinforced with another CSEA, Ed Bell Construction Company is sure to succeed in their efforts to continually campaign for safety culture, and SafetyStratus appreciates the opportunity to support them in that endeavour.