Walk onto the construction site at 500 McCullough Avenue and you’ll see a hive of activity. Massive cranes moving back and forth, workers constantly going up and down the floors and endless clanging and banging are part of the everyday here. Progress on what will become CPS Energy’s new headquarters is made each day, and that’s ultimately thanks to the culture of safety taught at the site.
“We all do a safety briefing every single morning,” said Bill Badger, Manager of Facility and Capital Construction at CPS Energy. “We talk about what’s going on at the site that day and what everyone needs to watch out for. It’s the first thing we do before anyone steps in the building. We are always planning ahead for safety.”
The importance of safety is woven into everything not only at the site but all throughout CPS Energy. Their process for selecting a contractor to build the new headquarters relied heavily on safety rating. It’s a major reason why they chose Sundt Construction for the job.
“I looked at Sundt’s safety program and their safety culture,” said Bill. “Their culture is exactly like ours. We are learning things from them and I hope we will continue to learn and improve and get better and safer. Their leaders are great at observing and carrying the message. If anybody on the job site sees something unsafe, they have the authority to stop it.”
Todd Calder, Sundt’s Vice President and Regional Director for Texas, said that working with CPS Energy on the new headquarters has been rewarding, particularly from a safety standpoint.
“When we started looking at this project, I would say one of the main reasons why we were selected was because of our safety culture,” Todd said. “That wasn’t by accident. That’s who we are and it’s something that we outwardly portray. Everything that we do starts and ends with safety.”
In addition to the daily safety briefings, the site also has a wall that workers have decorated with pictures of what motivates them to work safely. There are lots of photos of spouses and kids, cars and other hobbies. These efforts to connect safety on a human level are coupled with the significant investment that Sundt has put into safety analytics.
“What we’ve tried to do is take all our info and our experience and formulate it into something where we can be proactive on safety,” Todd said. “We are spending a lot of time with analytics and taking an offensive strategy instead of a defensive strategy.”
All of the safety reports and information from Sundt’s 200+ job sites nationwide are compiled into a database. This mainly includes minor injury reports, such as cuts or muscle strains sustained while working, that are then listed for site managers to analyze. Todd said these lists help the managers know where they should focus their attention when it comes to the safety messages they’re communicating.
In the end, both leaders agreed that all the safety messages, protocols and exercises are for one purpose only: to make sure workers get home in at least as good of shape as they came to work.
“I was in the Army for 25 years,” said Bill. “I had a lot of leadership positions and soldiers I was responsible for. I had no soldier get killed or seriously injured, but I had a lot of near misses. The last thing I wanted to do was have to go talk to somebody’s spouse or parents or kids and say that their loved one is injured or dead because of something that we could have done better.
“I personally bring that outlook to this project. I don’t ever want to have to go talk to someone’s family about that. So I carry that personally, and we are seeing the results.”
CPS Energy is committed to continuing its culture of Zero Harm through safety as it advances in the construction of the new headquarters. The buildings are slated to be completed in 2020.