Our IFE culture inspires new ways of working. Prior to construction, we aim to influence the design to eliminate potential risks. If we can find a smarter – and safer – way to approach the project before on-site work begins, that means fewer hazards to mitigate later. With avoiding risks in mind, we’re working toward fabricating many of our projects away from the jobsites in controlled, indoor environments. This not only improves safety, but quality as well. For example, we’re prefabricating about 25 percent of our joint venture’s 1.6 million-square-foot University Medical Center project in New Orleans. Patient bathrooms, headwalls and mechanical and electrical racks are being assembled in nearby fabrication facilities, then delivered to the jobsite and connected together.
Secondly, Skanska is certified under OHSAS 18001, one of the world’s most respected health and safety management systems. OHSAS 18001 provides third-party validation of every aspect of our safety program, including safety resources, training communication, deployment and outcomes. This helps us evaluate what we need to adjust to achieve our safety goals.
Lastly, underpinning all our safety efforts is transparency. Skanska openly shares everything we do and know with regards to safety. Our strategic Safety Roadmap and 18001 certification manuals are just a few of the many resources we are willing to share with our competitors to help them improve their safety programs. Our ultimate goal isn’t only reducing injuries on Skanska jobsites, but improving safety on all jobsites.
We’ve learned that such transparency and high ethics are the best way to conduct business in the larger sense as well. There’s no question about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. Our employees know we’ll always support them for doing the right thing.
To be inspired about safety, construction should look to other industries. Consider high-reliability organizations – such as commercial airlines and nuclear power plant operators – that have avoided major accidents despite high-risk work. They do this in part by building a safety culture and continuously learning and sharing better ways of operating. As we look to raise the bar on safety, let’s set a goal of turning construction into a high-reliability organization.
Hendrik Van Brenk is the Chief Environment, Health and Safety Officer for Skanska USA.