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Stepping Back for Safety Week 2020
September 18, 2020
For much of 2020, focus on jobsite safety has shifted to incorporate new COVID-19 measures. With the evolving safety requirements our industry is adopting, Balfour Beatty teams leveraged the national, industry-wide Construction Safety Week to intentionally STEP Back for Safety, focusing on the fundamentals such as preventing OSHA’s Fatal Four.
Across the country, Balfour Beatty teammates and trade partners paused at regular intervals throughout their workdays to step back from their tasks, look for hazards or changes in the work environment and take action to correct them.
Check out some of the critical realizations Balfour Beatty teams experienced as a result of stepping back for safety:
Stepping Back to Ramp Up
On the Lake Kilby Water Treatment Facility in Suffolk, Virginia, the project team was performing settle pump performance testing, a functional test typically executed on pumps to ensure they are running correctly before ramping up the new facility. While the tests are often run for different lengths of time and at varying percentages of water volumes, monitoring multiple tank levels ensures the structures will not overflow with a chlorine residual that can negatively affect the lake water. By stepping back and reevaluating the environment, the foreperson overseeing the activity verified proper locations for all Balfour Beatty teammates for the test and placement of additional safety measures including providing life rings to prevent drowning, securing the railing along various gate openings at tanks and gate actuators and performing two-way radio checks.
Stepping Back to Stand Down
At the Bowie State University New Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community project in Bowie, Maryland and a large healthcare project in Fort Worth, Texas, Balfour Beatty teammates and trade partners paused all jobsite activities to review important safety parameters around their daily tasks. They held detailed discussions about the Fatal Four, reviewed safe access to the jobsite, addressed awareness of work performed overhead and below and reminded teams to continue to step back through their workdays and how to continue accomplishing the tasks in front of them safely.
Stepping Back to Keep the Momentum Going
With good reason, the Wellington Bay team in Wellington, Florida stepped back to celebrate. With over 317 days worked without a lost time incident and an overall project 0.0 lost time incident rate (LTIR), the team also achieved zero recordable incidents with over 15,000 hours worked throughout the month of August. Recognizing the hard work and focus it took to achieve this stellar safety record, the team leveraged Safety Week to remind everyone to remain focused on the fundamentals like personal protective equipment (PPE), the Fatal Four, "See Something, Say Something" and stopping work if there is any uncertainty regarding their tasks or if any activity creates an unsafe situation on the jobsite.
Stepping Back for Respiratory Safety
Across the Northwestern U.S. and California, wildfires are causing unprecedented damage and devastation. In some areas, thick swaths of smoke are creating potentially unhealthy and unsafe working conditions for many businesses.
To protect the safety of our teammates, trade partners and clients, Balfour Beatty is continually monitoring air quality index maps and government and local news to assess the safety of maintaining operations on our jobsites. When necessary, we are suspending operations until air quality conditions improve, and it becomes safe to resume work. Our teams are meeting this rapidly changing situation with tremendous agility during Safety Week and beyond.
On the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) which will electrify Caltrain service, the team stepped back to discuss, issue and comply with OSHA respiratory protection standards.
Although a large commercial project in Seattle was unable to observe Safety Week with their peers nationally, they will ensure their workforce receives ample learning opportunities once the jobsite can safely re-open. The team has planned on-site safety training for First Aid, fall protection and scaffold and aerial lift safety. The team also plans to reinforce the importance of mental health by providing wellness checks performed by an on-site medic.
Stepping Back to Gain New Perspectives
Stepping back allowed our teams to examine jobsites from different and new perspectives. This is especially important, because our definition of Zero Harm extends beyond our jobsite perimeters. The Atlanta team had a unique opportunity to host a member of the local community who uses a wheelchair to present on pedestrian access.
The presentation explained how project teams can create more inclusive, safe and accessible environments for every pedestrian who comes in contact with our jobsites. In a fitting call to action, the presenter reminded Balfour Beatty teammates that while 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is still much work to do to ensure equitable access—especially in and around construction sites. Everyone who attended the presentation left with their eyes opened, mutual compassion and a personal commitment to continually examine jobsites for any potential barriers. We can better advocate for those who identify as differently abled by asking questions, engaging in active listening and speaking up—the keys to building a safe and people-first jobsite for everyone.
"Sometimes, taking a step back means you recognize that you may not know everything," says Ryan Little, safety health and environment director for Balfour Beatty. "The things we think are easily traversable, aren’t always that easy. If you are willing to humble yourself, you may see something different through someone else's eyes."
Across the nation, Balfour Beatty teams took a STEP Back for Safety Week. They experienced unique insights and valuable lessons that will help ensure the safety and wellbeing of our teams, workforce, trade partners and communities.