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For any company to be successful, safety must be a top priority, including the safety of employees, customers, and the public. That reality is even more prevalent in the construction industry. For these companies, a lot can go wrong when dealing with high-risk assets and installations.
While all electrical contractors will assuredly agree on the importance of safety, not all of them will commit the time and resources to proactively foster a true preventative culture of safety. Looking at the landscape of electrical contractors, Ducci Electrical provides a prime example of a company emphasizing safety in the right ways, and in an industry that is constantly evolving.
Importance of Safety
An electrical installation project can be productive in achieving its operational goals of being on-time and profitable, but if it doesn’t also have safety infused throughout its DNA then it’s not truly a successful project. The goal must always be zero incidents, but of course, accidents happen. That said, to those committed to fostering a true culture of safety, each avoidable incident remains unacceptable, and every incident and near-miss offers valuable lessons for improvement and future prevention. According to Tom Carew, Ducci Electrical’s VP of Construction & Safety, “We find that at least 90% of incidents and near misses are preventable, even in these dangerous environments, and nearly all of those incidents could have been prevented, and easily so, with proper awareness of one’s surroundings.” Electrical contracting companies must realize that safety is a journey continually moving towards that zero-incident aspiration, and Ducci Electrical understands well that instilling a mindset of constant situational awareness and hazard prevention throughout all employees is critical to making progress towards this zero-incident goal.
Proper safety practices are of course simply the right thing to do, and the primary goal is to send every employee home in the same condition as when they arrived. Doing so also makes good business sense. The better the company’s safety record, the fewer resources will need to be poured into insurance or handling the aftermath of accidents. Conversely, companies with poorer safety records may find themselves precluded from bidding on certain private and government projects. Furthermore, safety is also about employee morale and future success. When safety is taken seriously at the executive management level within a company, employees will know the company cares, has their back, and will be more likely to make every effort to contribute to making the safest workplace environment possible.
Specific Safety Practices to Consider
With every job site having its own unique hazards and the very nature of construction sites being constantly in a state of change, one critical daily step must be pre-task planning and detailed job hazard analyses. At the beginning of every shift, Ducci implements these PTP’s and JHA’s as standard practices that inform employees about both potential hazards in the areas they may be working in, and specific to the task they will be performing.
Encouraging employee participation in these discussions and speaking up about additional hazards observed or ideas to improve safety are equally important aspects of an ever-improving program. Employees need to feel protected if they are going to speak up about safety risks, potential incidents, and areas where they feel a team member isn’t living up to these practices.
In the end, companies must recognize that safety practices aren’t simply a box to check off the list, but ideas that have to be woven throughout the workday and practices. Leaders must emphasize the importance of going beyond the minimum and do everything reasonable for the safety of those across the company if meaningful progress towards a zero-incident goal is to continually be made.
Creating a Culture of Safety at Ducci Electrical Contractors
The above practices are a great starting point for any electrical contracting company, but they undercut the real differentiator between safe and unsafe companies. A great example comes via Ducci Electrical and their emphasis on a top-down culture of safety. Safety for them isn’t about specific actions, but rather it’s about a pervasive ethos of safety that covers everyone in the company. “We do not have a ‘Safety Division’ here, because safety is an integral part of every one of our jobs in this company, from executive management down to apprentices. To us, relegating safety to a separate department, even if just by name, sends the wrong message,” says President/CFO Rich Ducci.
Ducci Electrical sets a “tone from the top” leadership surrounding a mindset of safety, and they’ve done so for decades before most recognized the importance. A commitment to safe work sites is upheld by their Raising the Bar program, which is described as a “top-down, collaborative & proactive approach” to safety, allowing for and encouraging buy-in to this safety culture at every level of the company.
As one example, the Ducci Safety Committee continually and collaboratively looks at existing programs for safety. While this type of committee itself isn’t especially unique, the differentiator is that the members of this committee contain a mix of executive management, project managers, and crew foremen, with individuals constantly rotating in and out to allow for new viewpoints, heightened visibility to field employees, and an emphasis that all employees should feel personally responsible towards company-wide safety and that their voices and contributions are desired. This committee reviews all incidents and near misses, collaboratively identifies areas for improvement, assesses new potential tools and PPE technologies, and more. “Our field foremen, in particular, are on the front lines every day and are in the best position to raise new concerns for the team’s review,” explains Executive Vice President John Ducci. “It’s essential we keep them central in the conversation and continually pull from their experience and observations to identify areas for improvement, and in the process reinforce the collaborative and safety-conscious mindset that they should bring to their crews every day.”
In the end, Ducci Electrical views proactivity towards safety as a benefit in itself, not a challenge or a hindrance towards other operational goals. Safe practices not only keep employees healthy and working but very often offer opportunities to increase productivity rather than hinder it. It boosts company morale, contributes to satisfied clients and on-time project delivery, and can elevate the profile and respect of an entire company.
More About Ducci Electrical
Ducci Electrical Contractors is a third-generation family-owned and -run firm specializing primarily in large-scale commercial & industrial building and railroad electrical construction. The firm is based in Farmington, Connecticut, and has successfully performed billions of dollars of projects in Connecticut, upstate New York, and western Massachusetts markets.