Despite the fact that EMCOR Group's annual injury rate is already 50% less than OSHA's published rates for construction and facilities services companies, the Norwalk-Conn.-based contractor giant is striving for more, says Frank T. MacInnis, EMCOR's chairman and CEO. In fact, since 2002, the company has achieved a 46% reduction in the company's total recordable incident rate (TRIR), and decreased recordable injuries by 28%. Although upper management expects labor hours to increase by 12% this year, EMCOR projects a 60% reduction in lost and restricted duty time in 2006 as compared to 2003.

These achievements are the result of a new safety program introduced to the company's 26,000 employees in 2003. Dubbed the “Zero Accident Program,” or ZAP, the new safety approach focuses on nine elements determined by the Construction Industry Institute to be important for achieving accident reduction and sets the lofty goal of zero accidents per year company wide.

“Instead of setting goals to injure people, which is what most organizations do — they set a target and say, ‘We will only have four accidents a year or 10 accidents a year’ — we decided to set a goal of zero accidents,” says David M. Copley, vice president of safety and quality management at EMCOR.

Combining the strategies of visitation, communication, and education across the company's 70 subsidiaries, ZAP involves visits by safety and quality management professionals targeting all levels of the organization and focuses on safety compliance and performance. It also includes a “Productivity Plus Road Show” that focuses on the business case for safety, the important correlation between productivity and safety, and why productivity is the key to great safety, quality, customer satisfaction, and improved margins.

“All those things that you need to be productive are also all the same things that you need to be safe — knowledgeable workers with the right tools and equipment and supervised to the right level in a safe working environment,” says Copley, offering these tips on how to improve safety and productivity:

Pre-planning is essential Preplan for each job, as well as tasks that occur because of changes or rework. Ensure supervisors fully understand the important role they play in pre-planning and accident prevention.

Motion is money Set up work areas in ways that minimize the amount of movement required by employees. Remember that every bend or step that can be eliminated reduces risk, decreases fatigue, and increases productivity.

Think innovation Take the time to research what is new or what has been improved. Look for ways to eliminate risk by changing the way that people work. Compliance is important, but it is not the total solution.