Turner Construction Company Stands Down to Stand Up for Safety.

July 08, 2014

On June 2, 2014, New York’s largest construction firm, Turner, simultaneously stopped construction activities at all of its project sites as part of its second state-wide Stand-Down held this year. At the event, Turner's Safety Managers and Project Executives rallied workers and conducted "toolbox talks" to reinforce the principles of the company's Living Injury Free Everyday (L.I.F.E.) program.

This June’s Stand-Down which focused on fall prevention coincided with OSHA's National Fall Prevention Stand-Down week. According to OSHA, 279 of the 806 construction fatalities in the US in 2012 were attributed to falls. In addition, a 2014 study published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cited ladders as being a leading cause of all workplace injuries. The study reported that falls outpaced other causes of workplace fatalities, and that 43% of fatal falls in the last decade involved a ladder. According to the study, an estimated 81% of construction related falls treated in the US emergency rooms involved a ladder.

When asked how this month’s Stand-Down will address fall prevention, Charles D. Avolio, Turner’s Vice President and General Manager, had this to say, “The exercise enables us to address safety in a collaborative environment and introduce new practices while enhancing others.”

As an example, Avolio points out Turner’s Ladders-Last initiative, which was introduced Nationwide as a part of the company's L.I.F.E. program. Developed by Turner’s employees, Ladders-Last aims to eliminate ladders from job sites. The process begins during pre-task meetings where project personnel and safety managers identify pending work at elevated-heights, evaluate the requirements, and strategize to develop ladder free approaches to completing the work. Alternate approaches have included the use of motorized platforms, single person elevated lifts and the construction of temporary stairs. Since being adopted nationally in January 2012, the program has been a resounding success.

“In our Southeast region, which includes Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama we’ve experienced an 86% drop in ladder related incidents,” said Cindy DePrater, Turner’s Vice President of Environmental Health & Safety. “The Southeast has dramatically reduced its dollar claims by 99% from a high of $620,000 in 2009 to $1,292 in 2013. More importantly, the same results are being seen throughout our office network; Ohio’s claims, for instance, plummeted from $770,290 in 2011 to $620 in 2013.”

Other building L.I.F.E. best practices include Nothing-Hits-the-Ground and regular Safety Seminars and Subcontractor/Vendor Training.

Turner recently earned OHSAS’ 18001 certification for its commitment to safety and the successful implementation of its programs. Combining farsighted concern for worker welfare with sound initiatives has earned Turner a place among a select number of US construction companies to receive this recognition.

“Our workers rely on us for their safety and their families rely on them,” said Avolio. “Committing ourselves to their wellbeing is our moral and social obligation.”

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