Creating an Award-Winning Safety Culture

A Safe Start
We recommend beginning your day with a safety moment to establish a strong safety culture with your project team.
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Creating an Award-Winning Safety Culture

City of Annapolis Annapolis, MD

Every CDM Smith project is guided by the belief that the health and safety of our em­ploy­ees and sub­con­trac­tors is a top priority. Recently, the joint venture of CDM Smith and Haskell’s design and con­struc­tion of the new 8-million-gallon-per-day water treat­ment plant project for the city of An­napo­lis received co­op­er­a­tive com­pli­ance part­ner­ship (CCP) recog­ni­tion from the Maryland Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health (MOSH) for safety and health work methods that exceed industry stan­dards. By creating a site-specific safety plan and re­it­er­at­ing safety habits on a daily basis, CDM Smith and Haskell created an award-winning culture of safety.


Cus­tomiz­ing the Safety Plan 

Safety planning for the An­napo­lis project began long before ground­break­ing, and con­tin­ued through­out the project. Before the project began, unique hazards were iden­ti­fied and safety plans were created. Everyone onsite at the An­napo­lis project par­tic­i­pated in safety ori­en­ta­tion to learn about hazards, how to mitigate them and what to do in an emer­gency. Sub­con­trac­tors, Haskell and CDM Smith em­ploy­ees all wore stickers on their hard hats showing they com­pleted the ori­en­ta­tion. Nobody was allowed onsite without a sticker, ver­i­fy­ing that everyone un­der­stood the safety approach and was com­mit­ted to im­ple­ment­ing it.


Creating a Culture of Safety 

Im­ple­ment­ing a suc­cess­ful safety plan on this project required managers, laborers and anyone on site to in­te­grate their ac­tiv­i­ties. To create a 24-hour culture of safety, everyone par­tic­i­pated in daily toolbox talks. These daily safety talks reviewed the previous day’s near misses and good catches. A typical meeting could include re­view­ing activity hazard analyses and dis­cussing step ladder safety.

Sprains, strains and tears are common injuries in the work­force, so everyone onsite par­tic­i­pated in rain or shine “Stretch and Flex” sessions each day to lessen the chance of mus­cu­loskele­tal injuries. Industry research suggests that im­ple­ment­ing a “Stretch and Flex” program can reduce fre­quency of strains and sprains by 60 percent, and reduce severity of strains and sprains by 30 percent. Daily stretch­ing helped phys­i­cally prepare for the day ahead while re­in­forc­ing safety habits.


De­liv­er­ing Safety on Future Projects 

Safety measures on the An­napo­lis project were suc­cess­ful in large part because man­age­ment and staff shared re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. “We thought about safety and prac­ticed safety all the time. We made sure that everyone knew that they were not only re­spon­si­ble for their own safety, but also for the person standing next to them,” said Su­per­in­ten­dent of Safety, Paul McG­o­na­gle.

Everyone on the project, from laborers to office managers was con­sid­ered ac­count­able for safety, and their full par­tic­i­pa­tion was fun­da­men­tal to the program’s success. CDM Smith applies this rigorous approach to all projects, and through dili­gence on future projects, will continue to create a safe en­vi­ron­ment for everyone on the job.


Eric Fickbohm, CSP, is CDM Smith’s north­east regional health and safety manager with 30 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, safety and con­struc­tion fields. Having served as su­per­in­ten­dent, health and safety co­or­di­na­tor, and site safety officer, his current re­spon­si­bil­i­ties include im­ple­ment­ing and main­tain­ing a safety program that is com­pli­ant with CDM Smith’s cor­po­rate health and safety phi­los­o­phy.