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In conjunction with Construction Safety Week, May 7-11, Construction Executive interviewed Greg Peele, general manager and executive vice president leading Skanska USA’s North Carolina and Virginia building operations. 

A 29-year industry veteran, Peele has spent the last 18 years with Skanska. As part of his leadership role, he sets the tone for the company’s safety culture on 18 active jobsites in his region.

Q: Describe a typical day at a Skanska jobsite, from a safety and wellness perspective. What activities does each employee complete? 

 Peele: Skanska’s safety practices actually begin well before each worker comes to work for the first time. As part of the preconstruction process, our teams complete months of pre-planning, including site logistics, materials storage, delivery routes and other activities that set the stage for a safe project. Each worker completes an employee site orientation to understand the logistics and site safety elements specific to that project. 

Additionally, each worker is trained in our Care for Life culture, which is one of Skanska’s four core values and a reflection of our corporate beliefs. Care for Life helps our workers better understand how safety not only affects each worker and their family, but the entire project site. We empower our employees to strive for an injury-free environment and believe that everyone has the right to go home safely at the end of the day.  

Then, a typical day on our project sites starts each morning with a 10-minute stretch and flex session that is geared toward agility and balance. I believe that the first 30 minutes of every day are the most important to get each worker thinking about their safety. Following announcements that may affect the project site, each trade meets with their respective team to perform a daily hazard analysis (DHA) to ensure they have a plan to safely perform specific work for that day. 

Skanska’s site management team is actively involved in each of these activities.  

Q: How did you come to determine that these activities and demonstrations would be effective? 

Peele: Our safety activities, just like the industry, evolve over time. Years ago, safety was measured against past performance, but now we use leading indicators such as analytics, protective equipment requirements, morning stretch routines, and our DHA to actively plan and stay in front of safety. 

We continually update our Care for Life training to keep it relevant. We incorporate best practices and monitor the time of day and day of the week that accidents generally occur. We use those stats to make our industry better and to support a culture in which every worker has a mindset to create a jobsite where everyone chooses to follow the rules so that everyone goes home safely. 

Q: Have your project partners—other general contractors and subcontractors—copied your ideas? 

Peele: Our industry is very competitive, but when it comes to jobsite safety, we all have to share ideas and learn best practices from each other. We should all want to join together to make our industry one of the safest environments in which to work. Additionally, Skanska was one of the founding members of a consortium behind the creation of a national Construction Safety Week for the industry. 

Q: What are workers saying about the program overall? 

Peele: Our employees actively support our safety program because it’s the right thing to do. Our craft workers have embraced our morning stretching routine and safety planning. Our subcontractors replicate the stretch and flex routine on other jobsites, even if it is not a Skanska project. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a unified sharing of best practices with the overall goal to have everyone go home safely.

Q: How has your attention to safety and wellness paid off? 

Peele: Our safety and wellness programs have paid off in both tangible and intangible ways. Our jobsites are safer than they have even been. All of the standard industry measurables verify that. In our region, our lost time rate has decreased 72 percent during the last three years. Our OSHA reportable recordable incident rate has decreased 24 percent during that same time period. 

But the culture on our sites is the true measure of performance. We are a true team. It is a powerful vision to see hundreds of workers all doing calisthenics during stretch and flex. And, it doesn’t stop there. Choosing to follow the safety rules is the right thing to do, even when you leave the job for the day. 

Safety should be part of your entire life: how you drive your car, how you mow the lawn, how you do housework. Our workers tell us they behave differently and more safely, even at home, because of the culture they’ve learned on the jobsite. That’s very powerful. 

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