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In planning a $2.7 billion expansion project for the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the Board of Directors wanted to assure the safety of all construction and Airport employees. As part of the design of the loss prevention program, actuaries provided disturbing predictions regarding injuries and deaths that could be anticipated for the size and type of construction projects being considered for the expansion program.
In addition, the construction industry in North Texas has a large number of Spanish-speaking workers. These workers were experiencing a high number of fatalities and injuries at construction projects.
In cooperation with the two largest prime contractors (Hensel Phelps Construction Company and Austin Commercial L.P.), a mandatory 40-hour safety training program was developed and implemented. Classes were presented in English and Spanish with the individual students choosing which language class they would attend. Classes conducted in Spanish had one-half day dedicated to teaching students how to say basic construction tool names and terms in English. In the English language classes, English-speaking students were taught how to communicate basic construction tool names and terminology in Spanish.
The instruction was a mix of classroom and hands-on lab work. Students also received print materials to take on the job, including pocket cards with translations of key construction terms. The safety training program graduated 14,272 students by the time the expansion project was completed in 2005, with 8,100 completing the classes presented in English and 6,172 completing the classes presented in Spanish.
The program has proven results with recordable and lost time rates significantly below both state and national averages. With over 24 million man-hours worked, the program has posted a lost time rate of 0.42/200,000 man-hours compared to a national average of 3.60/200,000 man-hours and a state average of 2.4/200,000 man-hours.
The program had a recordable rate of 3.68/200,000 man-hours compared to a national average of 6.80/200,000 man-hours and a state average of 4.3/200,000 man-hours.
In addition, after nearly five years of work was completed in 2005, there were no fatalities. The project included a new two million square foot international terminal building and the world’s largest airport train system. Construction of the train system took place at night and involved construction of the equivalent of a five-mile long bridge, 50-80 feet above ground. These results were not solely due to the training – many dedicated safety professionals and countless toolbox meetings also had a significant role in reinforcing the training.
The Airport hopes that this training will have a long-term impact on safety and insurance modifiers in the local construction market for years to come.
Terence P. Cassidy, Assistant Vice President Program Administration, DFW International Airport (June 2005)