The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) recently announced the recipients of its Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA). Several electrical contractors were included among the winners in the Specialty Contractor category, including first-place Rosendin Electric, San Jose, Calif., second-place Cupertino Electric, San Jose, Calif., and third-place P1 Group, Inc., Lenexa, Kan., for firms that worked more than one million man hours. Dynalectric Co., San Diego, and SKMES, Inc. Knoxville, Tenn., earned first and second place spots, respectively, in the Specialty Contractor category, for firms that worked 700,001 to one million man hours. Baker Electric, Inc., Escondido, Calif., was among the specialty firms that were awarded a third-place finish for 500,001 to 700,000 man hours worked.
The complete list of the 2013 CSEA winners is available here.
The purpose of the CSEA is to recognize those construction companies that excel at safety performance and closely examine each candidate's commitment to safety and occupational health management and risk control. Participants are required to complete the application forms and submit them to their local AGC chapter. The AGC chapters then select finalists in each category, if applicable, and submit those recommendations to AGC of America. Members of the AGC Safety & Health Committee review the chapter's submittals at the winter meeting. Then the finalists in each category compete at the AGC National Convention for either a first-, second-, or third-place award. Finalists give a presentation in front of five judges made up of construction safety professionals from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Judges look for evidence of company management commitment, active employee participation, safety training, work site hazard identification and control, and safety program innovation.
Seven AGC of California member companies were finalists in the national competition. As the 2012 recipient of the California Safety Awards of Excellence for specialty contractors working more than one million hours in 2011, Cupertino Electric was chosen as a finalist for the national program. For the past two years, the firm has won first place for specialty contractors working a million or more hours in the state of California from AGC of California. This was the first year it was accepted to compete as a finalist.
As part of its presentation to the panel of judges, Cupertino Electric highlighted its recent rededication and recommitment to safety. “We’ve been around for 58 years, but it wasn’t until about seven years ago when our President and CEO John Boncher made a huge commitment and affected a paradigm shift in our company,” says Patricia S. Becker, director of corporate safety for Cupertino Electric. “We’ve made some tremendous strides in changing our culture. We refuse to accept the status quo when it comes to safety. That started a cascade of events that brought us to where we are today.”
Transparency is a hallmark of the company’s safety culture. “Being open and honest about our challenges and focusing on where we need to improve is helping us get to where we are,” says Becker. “It has to start from the top down, and our management has made it clear what their expectations are.”
However, safety issues are not just a concern for management. “At Cupertino Electric, safety has no rank,” says Becker. “Whether it’s an apprentice calling out a project manager, if there’s an unsafe practice it has to be brought up. It’s about looking out and caring for one another and bringing issues to light.”
In addition to the change in attitude, the management has put funds behind its safety program. “We are supported financially, whether it’s the right tools to do the job safely or training for our employees,” says Becker. “We spend the time we feel is necessary to plan for safety prior to executing the work. We have that support from management level. We do not accept injuries as the cost of doing business at Cupertino Electric.”
Furthermore, safety doesn't end with Cupertino Electric's employees. A major new initiative is sharing its safety resources with subcontractors and vendors. Recently, the company streamlined and formalized its prequalification process. "We carefully reviewing the company's safety metrics and also looking at its programs," says Becker. "When we hire a firm that doesn’t have safety resources, we freely share our documents. We’re reaching out beyond Cupertino Electric to affect change in the industry as a whole."
The national AGC awards marks the fourth safety award of the year for EMCOR Group, Inc.’s San Diego branch of its Dynalectric Co. subsidiary. The company received both a 2012 Safety Excellence Award and a Zero Injury award from the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), as well as a first place award for Construction Safety Excellence from the American Subcontractors Association (ASA).
“The AGC Safety Excellence Awards recognize the best contractors nationwide for leadership in safety and loss prevention programs,” says Philip Petersen, president & CEO, Dynalectric. “We’re proud to be among this country’s premiere construction companies in terms of safety and occupation health management, risk control, safety training, and work site hazard identification and control. This award is testament to the dedication of Dynalectric employees and the entire EMCOR organization as we strive for a goal of zero accidents so employees may return home safely every day.”
Dynalectric’s commitment to safety is part of a multi-tiered, integrated approach that includes a Zero Accident program as well as a host of supporting initiatives, such as the Be There For Life program. This EMCOR effort is designed to educate its employees and their families about the importance of safety through the use of workplace posters, company newsletters, mailings, and a number of other creative tactics intended to instill the conviction that every accident is preventable.