Construction Safety Week (May 2-6) is upon us and some of the Adolfson & Peterson Construction team members sat down with Regional Safety Director Jesus Cruz and asked him why this annual event means so much to AP.
Question: What is the significance of Construction Safety Week?
Cruz: Safety Week is an annual weeklong opportunity for people, companies and even competitors to educate and inform, increase awareness, share best practices and celebrate the incredibly hard work of people in the construction industry who make safety the foundation of everything they do. This year’s theme – Connected. Supported. Safe. – is a prime example of what the week focuses on.
Question: How does that translate at AP?
Cruz: AP leadership believes in a safety-conscious job site and strives to pass that sense of trust and focus on to our trade partners as well as our own team members. We make sure they understand they have a voice and a proper plan to be safe. We monitor projects daily and weekly through a well-developed and extensive safety program tailored to each job and make sure that each of our team members have safety at the top of their mind.
Question: How safe are AP worksites?
Cruz: AP has had zero recordable incidents to date in 2022. Additionally, AP’s Midwest region recently reached a significant safety milestone by reaching two years without a lost-time incident and the PGA headquarters project team in Dallas recently received an award from Staff Zone based on their excellent safety record on the job site.
Question: What can you do to instill that sense of safety into your employees?
Cruz: To maintain that record, we use opportunities like Construction Safety Week to host multiple events to keep safety at the forefront of each team member. It is crucial for our teams – from top to bottom – to understand that safety is a priority. We care about our people and want them to come back tomorrow safe and sound because they have to provide for their families. It is way bigger than just completing a project. AP project teams will be coordinating with on-site trade partners to have their teams perform a different activity on the job site during Construction Safety Week. Each day has its own topic to discuss, ranging from supporting one another on the worksite to speaking up for safety. These topics will also be discussed in AP offices with representatives from various departments giving safety talks daily.
Question: So, do you just do this during Construction Safety Week?
Cruz: This is not just a once-a-year exercise for AP. I joined the firm eight years ago and have been steadily building the safety program here to draw our team into not only complying with government mandates but really taking ownership of best safety practices. Communication plays a key role in maintaining workplace safety and that starts in the field by offering support and building relationships, so everyone knows what is happening on a job site.
Question: How hard is it to teach safety?
Cruz: It’s not necessarily about teaching safety. Our team members need to know that someone is there to help them out. Construction designs are more complicated today and that means there are even more safety precautions needed. Technology has helped in various forms from documenting photos on the worksite of areas of concern to recording how projects are being constructed. Recently, one team member Facetimed me to help decide how to address a job site concern. As a standard operating procedure, we perform hazard analysis on each job site before work begins. Often, contracts require regular meetings for contractors and their sub-contractors to know exactly what the scope of work is and how to do it safely.
Question: So, how do you build this trust with your employees?
Cruz: We treat safety as a culture, not just a requirement. AP embraces an Incident and Injury Free (IIF) safety culture, whereby all incidents and injuries are preventable. IIF is a culture of personal leadership where individual and collective responsibility creates an environment where we can learn from and manage any incident or injury that occurs. We accomplish this by creating a culture where our employees and our trade partners’ team members have a high level of care and concern for their fellow workers. To work for AP, all employees must commit to personal responsibility for keeping our workplace incident and injury-free. Every AP employee must advocate safety protocols from documenting what they’re doing to paying attention to the daily tailgate talks with their managers. This is where the culture of safety comes in. Safety is a journey. We’ve worked hard to sell the safety process with weekly safety stand-downs one day a week. At that time, everyone stops working to discuss safety and understand what is important. In addition to looking out for one another on the worksite, our team members have families at home that inspire them to work harder and safer. These men and women are working to provide for their families, and they have a right to speak up about being safe so they can keep working, go home every day and return to work the following day.
Question: In addition to the daily safety talks, what else goes into Construction Safety Week?
Cruz: Safety Week will wrap up on Friday with a “thank you” event including an organized breakfast or lunch at each job site or office with regional leadership, project managers and leaders in the field thanking team members for working safely and keeping safety top of mind. When we band together, we can build something bigger and more powerful than any one company or project. We can build a stronger, safer industry.
With over 26 years of industry experience, Jesus is responsible for managing the safety and risk associated with construction projects and company operations. Jesus proactively plans, directs and implements AP’s safety program to ensure a safe, healthy and accident-free work environment.