Jobsite safety is often measured in terms of statistics: lost time, recordable incidents, serious injuries. From these statistics, safety professionals analyze trends and implement company-wide procedures. But in Southern California, Atkinson has achieved success by focusing on a key safety component that cannot easily be measured in numbers – relationships. This people-focused approach has created a culture in which project team members at all levels take responsibility for each other’s wellbeing, feel empowered to voice concerns, and work together to address challenges. At the heart of this approach is their town hall safety meetings.
The premise of these meetings is to engage project teams in all-hands discussions about specific site conditions relative to an objective everyone shares – going home safely at the end of the day. From craftworkers to senior leadership, team members from all levels and all shifts participate in the gatherings. Having the team in one place at the same time bridges any potential communication gaps, ensuring the entire project team is on the same page with a common goal of safety in mind.
The forum is led by foremen and serves as a place for open dialogue. In particular, the format encourages laborers and operators to share their experiences so that the team can find practical solutions to real-life challenges and agree on expectations for the duration of the project. Carpenter Foreman Darin Stuckey on the Cow Camp Road Phase 2A project reflects, “The meetings have brought us closer together and made us feel like we all have a voice.”
Last year, Atkinson held a town hall on every project underway in Southern California and plans to hold two meetings per year on each project going forward. The discussions have brought a range of topics to light. On the I-215/Scott Road Intersection project, parking on the jobsite was impacting the safe movement of large equipment around the site, so parking locations were relocated to maximize both the safety and productivity of operations. In addition, the need for the team to ready equipment and materials for the next shift was emphasized so that the next shift could hit the ground running. On the I-15/Limonite Avenue project, employees discussed the need to train and mentor new employees and develop a schedule for equipment maintenance. In addition, the team provided input about the Kask helmet that is now the company-wide standard, bringing up the need to research effective cooling options and a sun visor. The safety professionals record each of these items during the meeting and ensure follow-up on the action items.
The dialogue has created a positive rapport and a culture of respect that empowers team members to take responsibility for not only their own safety but that of fellow employees. With teams reporting strengthened bonds and safety numbers to back it up, Atkinson’s town hall meetings in Southern California are leading the effort to build a relationship-based safety program.