If I told you that your company could be 720 percent safer than the industry average, would you be interested? If I told you that you might be able to reduce your DART rate by up to 93 percent by deploying a specific set of processes, would you be interested?

World-class leaders expect world-class results, but those results don’t just happen.

In 2012, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) introduced a five-year, long-range strategic planning framework with six strategic objectives, one of which is: Establish ABC members as the “world-class” standard for health, safety and environment in the construction industry.  

ABC has a long history of commitment to construction safety. The ABC Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP) was first introduced in 1989, and it has been continuously improved by the ABC National Health, Safety and Environment Committee so it now allows the association to correlate leading indicators (best-in-class systems and processes) and lagging indicators (outputs and results). It is through the committee’s efforts to deliver this strategic objective that ABC has supported member companies on their journey to world-class safety performance. 

For the past three months, Construction Executive has published a series of articles focused on six world-class safety processes addressed in the 2015 ABC Safety Performance Report:
If deployed properly, these world-class processes can deliver compelling results.

A word of caution: A company cannot just send out a memo introducing a near-miss program (i.e., a leading indicator) and simply expect world-class results (i.e., a lagging indicator). The company must have a culture that is passionate in its belief that all incidents are preventable. Ensuring each person leaves the jobsite in the same—or better—condition than which he or she arrives must be considered a moral obligation not just for leadership, but also for all employees. Without this type of culture, denial, excuse-making and sarcasm will hinder any success.

A culture of safety does not exist without leadership taking a stand that includes an unwillingness to compromise safety and modeling this belief in every action. A number of years ago, I met Alan Medville, president of Medville Consulting, who shared the best definition of leadership I have seen. I have adopted and tailored this definition to fit the topic of safety: “Safety leadership is the authentic expression of who you are in such a way that creates the conditions for all to do their work without incident and go home safely every day.”

Leadership takes courage. A commitment to world-class safety takes tremendous effort and is fraught with leadership challenges, including departing from the status quo, shifting paradigms and triumphing over setbacks and undesirable performance. Transforming a company is difficult. Transforming an industry is daunting. In my years of experience, I have heard many excuses as to why it can’t be done. 

It is for this reason that ABC developed—with the grace and assistance of many ABC members and safety professionals—the STEP Plus Safety Excellence Academy. Leaders emerge from these multi-day workshops with a comprehensive “roadmap to world-class safety” that they can take back to deploy in their companies.

Together, if we choose to lead, if we choose to commit and if we choose to transform, we will create the conditions for all to do their work without incident and go home safely every day.


Michael D. Bellaman is president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors. For more information, email safety@abc.org or visit abc.org/safety.