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In November 2006, the Allied Health Hospital OSHA Strategic Partnership (OSP) was formed to promote safety and health during the construction of the 207 million dollar new hospital and medical office building in West Chester, Ohio. Main purposes of the OSP include providing a safe and healthy environment within the construction industry and increasing communication between stakeholders. The OSP will end upon completion of the project within the next three years.
Development of Safety and Health Management Systems Enforced
There are 50 onsite contractors who perform work on the West Chester hospital project, and 47 of the 50 developed and implemented their own safety and health management systems (SHMS). The three contractors who had not yet developed their own system adopted Messer’s. However, all of the onsite contractors – even those with their own SHMS in place – also were requirement to follow Messer’s “Safety4Site (S4S)” system while performing work. The S4S system specifically addressed the four key hazards within the industry (falls, electrocution, caught in-between, and struck-by). The S4S system started at Messer’s top executive level, but all Messer employees had buy-in before it was formally implemented. All contractors’ employees received training on S4S.
OSP Enforces a Safety and Health Culture at All Times
Messer is taking safety and health very seriously. When the project first began, all contractors, tiered subcontractors, supervisors, and onsite management staff went through a two-month cautionary period. During this period, any violation of the S4S system requirements resulted in all operations being terminated and a safety and health education course being commenced.
Messer identified 20 non-negotiable behaviors not to be tolerated on projects and applied them to all Messer and Messer subcontractor employees. Contractors are removed from the project for one day if a non-negotiable occurrence takes place. Two non-negotiable occurrences will result in dismissal from all Messer projects for one year. If multiple occurrences (more than two in one year) take place, the contractor must submit a place of action for correction and hire a full-time safety specialist onsite at the contractor’s expense until Messer determines that they are working safely.
During the hospital project, 15 S4S non-negotiable violations were noted resulting in 15 employees received a one-day suspension and being retrained regarding the specific violation. In addition, 21 other safety violations resulted in formal discipline (with actions ranging from temporary suspensions to removal from the project indefinitely). There is a clear message that not only employees need to comply with safety rules - five foreman/supervisory personnel were also disciplined after violating safety requirements. So far, there have been no repeat offenders. Also, three full-time safety specialists were hired by individual contractors as a result of the multiple occurrence requirement.
Safety and Health Training Leads to More Attention of Potential Onsite Hazards
One of the key objectives of the OSP is to increase safety and health training. Since the OSP began, nearly 4,100 hours were provided to 237 management and non-management participants. Over the past year, over 135 employees completed the OSHA 10-hour course. The increased number of safety and health training sessions offered to employees working on the project led to more employees noticing potential safety hazards on the site.
Over the course of the project, 200 self-inspections (not including daily “walk-throughs”) were conducted. During these inspections, 33,842 safety observations were noted and/or questioned resulting in 272 (1.2%) being classified as “unsafe operations.” All serious violations were corrected and/or abated immediately. These observations were conducted using the “DBO2” safety inspection system which includes pre-determined categories with multiple options.
OSHA Onsite Consultation conducted six onsite inspections and any serious and non-serious violations were abated immediately. Also, three OSHA enforcement inspections were conducted under the terms of the OSP resulting in 100 percent compliance.
Days Away, Restricted, and Transferred (DART) Rate below National Average for Construction
One of the key objectives of the OSP is to reduce illness and injury rates during the project. Therefore, six-foot fall protection was a requirement of the OSP’s SHMS and a daily Jobsite Safety Analysis (JSA) was conducted by each contractor with findings being regularly submitted to Messer for review. Also, to help avoid injuries, a daily stretching program was implemented for all contractors as well as “Daily Morning Huddle” meetings.
As a result, the OSP’s DART rate decreased from 2.6 during the first year to zero during the second year. The OSP’s two-year average of 1.3 was 54% the 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) national average for construction. The below table presents information on the OSP’s DART rate during the first two years of the project:
Over 750,000 safe hours were worked on the project without any DARTs instances occurring and there have been no fatalities. Multiple contractor safety luncheons with awards were given for reaching the milestones of 200,000; 500,000 and 750,000 safe work hours.
OSP Develops Safety and Health Best Practices to Ensure Project Success
Since the West Chester hospital project began, the OSP has developed several new safety and health best practices to reduce injuries and illnesses, promote a safety and health culture, and increase safety collaboration. These best practices include the following:
Daily Stretch and Flex Program
All employees working on Messer project sites (subcontractor and construction management staff) are required to participate in a daily stretch and flex program. This program includes a series of nine exercises to help employees warm up their muscles prior to performing work duties. The implementation of this program has helped Messer to reduce repetitive motion injuries (sprains/strains) and lower injury and illness rates on the worksite.
Activities with Local Organizations that Promote Safety and Health
Messer has worked closely with the West Chester Fire Department (WCFD) and West Chester Police/Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) teams to gain their insight on developing search and rescue drills. During the OSP, three drills were conducted with assistance provided by WCFD. The drills consisted of search and rescue procedures for an occupied facility, fire hose rotations in the bed tower, and high-angle rescue simulation using both tower cranes and aerial fire truck ladders from neighboring fire departments.
Numerous tours were also conducted during each phase of construction for the WCFD crews, and Messer representatives attended WCFD meetings to provide information regarding the building layout and construction safety. At the latter part of the project, the West Chester police department and SWAT teams used the newly-constructed facility to conduct hostage-situation and terrorist-response training drills, for neither the police nor the fire department had access to a building of this size and magnitude in their area prior to the project.
New Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Requirement
During the project, new PPR requirements were implemented that included a new 100% hardhat, safety glasses, boots, and hi-visibility vest policy. Following orientation, all employees were provided with stickers that had to be displayed at all times on their hardhats. Implementing requirements such as these leave no room for question and error and helps to create a safe worksite.
Key objectives of the OSP are to: reduce injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the construction industry through training and by focusing on the four key industry hazards (falls, electrocution, caught in-between, and struck-by); implement best work practices and enhance safety and health management systems (SHMS); and ensure compliance with applicable OSHA standards and regulations.
Origin: Region V, Cincinnati Area Office
Partners: Mortenson Messer HealthCare Construction (Mortenson Messer) and the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program
Partnership Signed: November 28, 2006
Industry (NAICS Code): Construction (23)
Source and Date: Dick Gilgrist, AD and Gaye Johnson, CAS, Cincinnati Area Office
James Dillard, Chicago Regional Office (Region V)/March 2009