Kirkland-based Mortenson helps launch first construction industry safety week

With the goal to eliminate worker injury, Kirkland-based Mortenson and a group of other national construction firms will launch the industry’s first annual “safety week” May 4–10. Safety Week is an opportunity to promote safety awareness in the construction industry which traditionally has higher than average incident rates compared to other occupations. Members of the participating firms comprise the Construction Industry Safety Initiative and the Incident and Injury-Free Executive Forum.

Each participating company will be conducting information sessions and safety training for workers on their projects during the week.

According the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2012 – the last full year reported – there were approximately 183,200 non-fatal construction-related injuries in the U.S. or 3.7 recordable incidents per 100 full-time workers. A recordable incident is a work-related illness and any injury which results in loss of consciousness, restriction of work or motion, transfer to another job, or requires medical treatment beyond first aid.

Construction industry fatalities rose five percent to 775 in 2012 from 738 in 2011 according to a report by the BLS released last year. The increase in 2012 follows five consecutive years of declining fatal injury counts in the construction sector.

“There is no more essential or defining characteristic for our industry than safety. The human element, and all its hard work, spirit and ingenuity, is the foundation for our achievements. Safety is our foremost obligation and we must all work together to eliminate the risk of injury on our projects,” Mortenson CEO Tom Gunkel said.

In addition to the education of best practices that can prevent injury, Safety Week seeks to thank workers for supporting safety; raise awareness of the importance of being committed to safety; and encourage all within the industry to adopt a pro-safety culture. The group has launched a website at that includes ideas and best practices for how companies can strengthen their safety culture in and around their operations.

For its part, Mortenson began its Zero Injury safety program in 1995 and was one of the first construction companies in the U.S. to implement such efforts. The company educates its workforce on the nine principles of its Zero Injury program. These principles are pre-task planning; orientation and training; substance testing; incident investigation; reward and recognition; management commitment; staffing for safety; subcontractor management; and worker involvement. As a result, Mortenson’s recordable incident rate continues to decline and is among the lowest in the construction industry.

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