file under: Design-Build, Government, North America, Water

Creating an Award-Winning Safety Culture in Annapolis


June 23, 2015

Every CDM Smith project is guided by the belief that the health and safety of our employees and subcontractors is a top priority. Recently, the joint venture of CDM Smith and Haskell’s design and construction of the new 8-million-gallon-per-day water treatment plant project for the city of Annapolis received cooperative compliance partnership (CCP) recognition from the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) for safety and health work methods that exceed industry standards. By creating a site-specific safety plan and reiterating safety habits on a daily basis, CDM Smith and Haskell created an award-winning culture of safety.

We thought about safety and practiced safety all the time. We made sure that everyone knew that they were not only responsible for their own safety, but also for the person standing next to them. 

Customizing the Safety Plan
Safety planning for the Annapolis project began long before groundbreaking, and continued throughout the project. Before the project began, unique hazards were identified and safety plans were created. Everyone onsite at the Annapolis project participated in safety orientation to learn about hazards, how to mitigate them and what to do in an emergency. Subcontractors, Haskell and CDM Smith employees all wore stickers on their hard hats showing they completed the orientation. Nobody was allowed onsite without a sticker, verifying that everyone understood the safety approach and was committed to implementing it.

Creating a Culture of Safety
Implementing a successful safety plan on this project required managers, laborers and anyone on site to integrate their activities. To create a 24-hour culture of safety, everyone participated in daily toolbox talks. These daily safety talks reviewed the previous day’s near misses and good catches. A typical meeting could include reviewing activity hazard analyses and discussing step ladder safety.

Sprains, strains and tears are common injuries in the workforce, so everyone onsite participated in rain or shine “Stretch and Flex” sessions each day to lessen the chance of musculoskeletal injuries. Industry research suggests that implementing a “Stretch and Flex” program can reduce frequency of strains and sprains by 60 percent, and reduce severity of strains and sprains by 30 percent. Daily stretching helped physically prepare for the day ahead while reinforcing safety habits.

Delivering Safety on Future Projects
Safety measures on the Annapolis project were successful in large part because management and staff shared responsibilities. “We thought about safety and practiced safety all the time. We made sure that everyone knew that they were not only responsible for their own safety, but also for the person standing next to them,” said Superintendent of Safety, Paul McGonagle.

Everyone on the project, from laborers to office managers was considered accountable for safety, and their full participation was fundamental to the program’s success. CDM Smith applies this rigorous approach to all projects, and through diligence on future projects, will continue to create a safe environment for everyone on the job.

Eric Fickbohm, CSP, is CDM Smith’s northeast regional health and safety manager with 30 years of experience in the environmental management, safety and construction fields. Having served as superintendent, health and safety coordinator, and site safety officer, his current responsibilities include implementing and maintaining a safety program that is compliant with CDM Smith’s corporate health and safety philosophy.

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