An Update from Penntex Safety Director Joe Shinn
Construction safety is currently under a major paradigm shift. Historically, construction safety success was measured by incident and fatality rates, policies were enforced with strict consequence, and putting up a “Safety First” banner meant you were a safe organization. Today, having a Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) of 0 is just the beginning of the story, policies are communicated in an educational manner that empowers the workforce, and the mantras previously painted on a banner have morphed into social endeavors to improve the overall safety culture of a company. Penntex believes in being ahead of the curve and doing everything better which reflects a phrase we commonly use when talking about our safety program, we “walk the walk”. We can easily demonstrate our success with our accomplishments which include being awarded a Diamond-Level safety designation through the Associated Builders and Contractor’s STEP Safety Management System, having a 0 TRIR, and having 0 OSHA citations. But, as mentioned, designations and indicators are just the beginning of our story.
Our Story of 2023
One of the most impactful initiatives we challenged ourselves with was restructuring our existing safety committee. In years past, the safety committee was made up of management and office personnel, it lacked structure, and it struggled to recover from COVID-19 restrictions. Today, our safety committee is 55% field staff on a rotating annual membership, its structure is designed to adhere to Pennsylvania’s Workplace Safety Committee requirements, and we are back to in-person meetings. As part of the revised structure, the committee will periodically conduct meetings in the field. This was launched in November when our first on-site safety committee meeting and field inspection took place at our project in Phoenixville, PA.
One of the most interesting parts of safety, especially in the construction industry, is there is no final destination – it’s a continuous journey in an extremely fluid environment. For Penntex, our journey is a journey of safety excellence. As with any journey, the single most challenging aspect is sustainability. We’ve made significant investments in safety equipment, and we methodically focused on company-wide training and education that allows us to sustain our journey in the most effective way possible. In doing so, we renewed our First Aid/CPR/AED certifications, we pushed our field staff and project management team to renew OSHA 30’s, and we provided our teams with Confined Space Awareness Training, General Electrical Safety Training, Scaffold Competent Person Training, and Drone Safety Training.
Our success is not independent. Another key point in our ability to sustain our journey is our partnerships with our subcontractors and trade partners. In May, we participated in the annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. We used this opportunity to raise awareness of fall hazards and educate the subcontracting workforce on fall prevention methods. Similar to this campaign, we pride ourselves in hosting events and taking time to engage our partners and their workforce to achieve optimal sustainability of our journey.
Reaching for More in 2024 – Continuing Our Journey
Looking back at 2023, our team set a high standard for safety excellence and our goal for 2024 is to continue raising the standard by being ahead of the curve and always doing better. 2024 brings a new year of training to expand on the foundations already set. It also brings new opportunities to participate in the annual Nationwide Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, a chance for Penntex to requalify for the Diamond-Level safety designation, an opportunity for our restructured safety committee to become a Pennsylvania Certified Workplace Safety Committee, and much more.
In 2024, we will continue to “walk the walk” in our continuous safety journey to produce positive results. As we persist on our journey to safety excellence we are excited for the positive impact that it will bring to the industry, our subcontractors and trade partners, and, most importantly, to the lives of the people who make up our industry.