Safety-focused union contractors build community IMPACT

On June 6, the Illowa Construction Labor and Management Council celebrated a remarkable record of worksite safety overseen by local union contractors.

The 2024 IMPACT Safety Awards luncheon continued an annual National Safety Month tradition that honors the uncompromising commitment to worksite safety clients count on when they sign an IMPACT Construction Agreement.

With over 7.3 million work hours in 2023, 29 honored IMPACT union contractors posted a remarkable rate of just 1.3 recordable cases of occupational injury or illness, based on standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

That is less than half the 3.0 recordable incident rate reported for all U.S. industries in 2022. It also bettered a 2.4 recordable case rate across the U.S. construction industry in 2022, the most recent available OSHA figures.

The outstanding safety record is consistent with past recordable incident rates submitted by partner IMPACT contractors, and it reinforces the fact union trade labor is better and safer than on non-union worksites.

An Illinois Economic Policy Institute study of over 37,000 OSHA inspections in 2019, for instance, found that union construction worksites were 19% less likely to have a violation than non-union construction sites, and had 34% fewer violations per inspection. In Illinois, the study showed union worksites accounted for only 8% of all cited OSHA violations.

In 2023, safety and quality workmanship went hand-in-hand on 28 IMPACT projects. That connection will continue, as more than 400 signatory IMPACT contractors rigorously evaluate and update their safety practices.  

AI applications are the newest additions to their toolkits.

Russell has enlisted analytics software to create safety dashboards that track results across countless worksites in real time. The company also posted job-site QR codes workers can scan to report “near hit incidents” or submit anonymous safety suggestions. The feedback helps identify ways for improvement, Russell Safety Director Mike Doucette said.

Tri-City Electric, meanwhile, introduced a wearable voltage detector to its work. “The goal is to provide a last line of defense should a worker come across potential accidental contact with an energized source,” said TCE Risk Management Director Travis Keeney.

IMPACT contractors also have increased attention on the mental health of their workforce.

“Psychological safety and stop-work authority are critical components that empower our team members to make safe choices even when there are conflicting priorities,” Doucette said.

Keeping its workforce safe and well is one of many vital ways union construction builds our community.

Safety Award winners

The following union contractors were presented 2024 IMPACT Construction Agreement Safety Awards:

Allied Construction Services, Inc.; Builders Sales and Service Company; Bush Construction Centennial Contractors of the Quad Cities, Inc.; Climate Engineers; Crawford Company; Davenport Electric Contract Company; Estes Construction;  Economy Architectural Sheet Metal’ Economy Roofing Company; The Henley Group. Hodge Construction Co. Inc.; IITI Group – Mechanical Systems Insulation, Inc. Industrial Steel Erectors; J F Ahern Co.; Johnson Controls; Midwest Best Waterproofing & Restoration; Otto Baum Company, Inc.; Petersen Plumbing and Heating Co.; Ragan Mechanical; River Valley Construction, Inc.;  Roofing Technology, Inc.; Russell; The Schebler Company; Scott Decorating; Sterling Commercial Roofing Inc.; Tri-City Electric Company; Tri-City Ironworks; and Valley Construction.

(Craig DeVrieze is the executive director of the Illowa Construction Labor and Management Council. He can be reached at [email protected].)

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