McCarthy Building Companies Reduced Injuries and Illnesses Through Enhanced Safety Programs and Construction Industry Best Practices

Partnership Project Overview:

The Washington University School of Medicine Neuroscience Research Building (#998) is a state-of-the-art, 609,000 square foot facility. It is one of the largest neuroscience research buildings in the nation and will provide the neuroscience community with a central home and laboratory environment. The 11-story building includes four components: a research building, a 2-story utility plant, a 9-story parking garage and a pedestrian connection link. This research facility will bring together 96 research teams made up of nearly 800 employees from a wide variety of disciplines to study the body’s nervous system. There were over 450 workers on-site during the peak of construction, which began in March of 2020, and completed in August, 2023.

In addition to the daily grind of addressing and correcting hazards, this Partnership brought together the entire project team in a comprehensive and collaborative environment to achieve best-in-class safety results on the Washington University School of Medicine Neuroscience Research Building project.

Implemented Best Practices on Project:

  • To reduce the number of injuries from ladder related incidents, McCarthy implemented the requirement to utilize only podium style ladders on the project and did not allow the use of A-Frame style ladders. Any work from extension ladders had to be approved through a permitting process and signed off by project management.
  • The partners implemented the use of red and yellow plastic safety chain for barricading with the usage of signage on all barricades. No plastic barricade tape was permitted on the project.
  • Executed a tool tethering program for working from heights, in conjunction with barricading off areas below.
  • In addition to standard personal protective (safety helmets, high-visibility outerwear, safety glasses, and proper footwear) the partners maintained a 100% glove policy on the project to reduce hand injuries.
  • Conducted quarterly project safety reviews with project management and senior management to review the overall implementation of the project safety program.
  • Established a positive reinforcement program on the project in which safety tokens were handed out for recognitions such as going above and beyond individual’s normal job duties or identifying and correcting hazards. The safety tokens could be redeemed at the project office for various items.
  • Required any trade partner on the project who had a total manpower of 40 or more people (including sub-tiered contractors) to have a full-time, onsite dedicated safety professional. This individual participated in the bi-weekly project safety manager meetings, including a jobsite walk, and joined in on the quarterly OSHA Partnership meetings.
  • Stop Work Authority - Anyone onsite could stop work if they see something unsafe.
  • Conducted a daily stretch and flex program with the whole project.
  • Implemented a daily safety walk calendar in which a project management team member was assigned to a trade partner. The pair walked the project and completed an audit over a specific safety topic. The findings from this walk were then presented at the daily Plan-of-Day (POD) meeting with all trade partner’s field management present.
  • During the course of the project, McCarthy transitioned from traditional hard hats to safety helmets with chin straps.
  • McCarthy conducted yearly safety re-orientations for everyone on the job site.
  • Hosted multiple stand-downs aligned with OSHA’s national focuses, including fall protection and suicide prevention.
  • McCarthy began every morning with stretch and flex and safety discussion utilizing a Task Hazard Analysis (THA) with the entire project. A THA from each contractor was required for each task the contractor performs that day.
  • McCarthy conducted a kickoff meeting with every contractor prior to coming onsite. The kickoff meeting ensured that all contractors understand the site safety requirements and that all necessary safety plans are submitted and approved prior to the contractor starting scope of work.

Apprentice Cohort and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts:

McCarthy management, in collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine leadership, developed biweekly meetings for both apprentices on the project and minority-based and disadvantaged businesses. These meetings focused on safety, mental health, business best practices and local industry updates. They provided an opportunity to network with peers and provide resources to help develop and promote a positive safety culture within their individual organizations and on the project.

Increased Safety Training Drove Overall Project Injury & Illness Rates Down:

Training on the project was a high priority and a key component of the OSHA Partnership. Over the course of the project, McCarthy Building Companies staff conducted approximately 8,900 hours of training for more than 3,800 workers receiving training over various topics. Training topics included: site safety orientation, OSHA 30-Hour Training, fall protection, Lockout Tagout, Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP) certifications, rigging & signaling, confined space, tool tethering, suicide prevention and awareness, supervisory scaffold training, first-aid and CPR training, heat illness prevention and Task Hazard Analysis (THA) training. In addition to the various safety trainings conducted, the project also participated in the annual OSHA Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction Week and the annual OSHA Suicide Prevention Week.

III. Quantitative Results Data

Quantitative Results Data - McCarthy Washington University School of Medicine Neuroscience Research
McCarthy Washington University School of Medicine Neuroscience Research *TCIR **DART Rate Number of Fatalities Dollar Value of Worker Compensation Claims
Year 1: 1.6 0.53 0 0
Year 2: 1.1 0.90 0 0
Year 3: 0.98 0.24 0 0
3-Year Rate (Avg.) 1.16 0.58 0 0
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) National Average for Most Recent Year Available (2022) 2.4 1.5 0 0
Percentage Difference between BLS and Most Recent Year in Program 59% below 84% below 100% below 0

The Partnership aimed to reduce the injuries/illnesses, with Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR), Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) Rate, and Days Away from Work (DAFW) rates compared to the 2018 BLS National Average serving as the baseline and the most current BLS National Average for NAICS 23.

The BLS 2018 published TCIR of 3.0, DART of 1.8, and DAFW Rate of 1.2 served as the baseline for the project. The TCIR rate was 67% below, DART rate 87% below, and DAFW rate 100% below the baseline rates (2018). When compared to the most recent available rates (2022), the TCIR rate was 59% below, DART rate 84% below, and DAFW rate 100% below.

* TCIR: (Total Case Incident Rate) = (# of injuries x 200,000) / total hours worked

** DART: (Days Away, Restricted, Transferred) Rate = (# of lost time injuries x 200,000) / total hours worked

***For the respective industry related to the submission.

Report submitted by: Steve Miller, Regional Safety Director, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. and Jo Beth Cholmondeley, OSHA, Region VII.