Every year, more than 90,000 individuals are injured on construction jobsites across the U.S. In 2012 alone, 806 workers were killed – a 9 percent increase over the previous year.
It’s easy to think about these numbers as just that – numbers. Numbers in a report, percentages in a pie chart, graph charts in a study.
But these numbers represent people: mothers, fathers, friends and colleagues. We, the construction industry, have mourned them like brothers and sisters. But for far too long we have stood by and allowed these incidents to occur and these statistics to grow. For too long we have watched as families mourned the losses of loved ones who never made it home safely, often because of mistakes that – with the right tools, information and communication – could have been avoided.
This week, that changes. This week, we’re joining forces to take a stand.
For the first time in history, construction companies across the country are banding together to create the first-ever industry-wide Safety Week. Thirty-one national and international construction firms – and many industry supporters – are putting aside their competitive differences this week and are coming together under one common theme: Building Safety Together.
We all have an obligation to protect both ourselves and everyone around us. If everyone in the pool is a lifeguard, then no one drowns. That’s the mentality all of us need to have. We must take care of ourselves and look out for one another. We need to watch each other’s backs and work together as a team.
As the leader at Skanska USA, I, along with my fellow industry counterparts, think about new ways to ensure the safe return home of my fellow colleagues every day. Safety is a value that has been embedded in Skanska’s culture since Day One, and we have pledged to reach zero accidents and keep everyone at our jobsites 100 percent safe.
On Monday, the team at our Florida Polytechnic Innovation, Science and Technology Building project jobsite gathered to celebrate Safety Week 2014 and 1,420 days without a lost time incident.
Jobsites all over the country are putting schedules aside this week to make safety even more of a focus. Through training sessions, educational sessions and community partnerships, workers are coming together to share and hear ways to keep one another safe. Each day, we want those in construction to go home to their families more assured than the previous day that safety is the highest priority on their jobsite.
So far, the feedback has been truly inspiring. From CEOs to project executives, the construction workforce has answered a call to action, sharing best safety practices on jobsites, on our Safety Week 2014 website and through our LinkedIn and Twitter social media channels. It’s been incredibly encouraging to see the industry come together so enthusiastically and fuel the momentum of our safety crusade.
But, it is up to us as leaders to ensure that the discussion doesn’t stop at the end of Safety Week 2014. It must continue to remain at the forefront of our lives daily.
Now, more than ever, when we live in a world where we have the tools to communicate information effectively and the resources to protect each other on the jobsite, we need to unite in a way stronger than ever before.
Don’t let an accident be the reason you’re having the discussion about safety. Instead, let the discussion about safety be the reason you’re not having any accidents.