2021 NUCA Safety Award 201,000 to 500,000 Manhours: Cleary Construction

Cleary Construction
SafetyWORKS is a regular column highlighting NUCA’s William H. Feather Safety Awards winners. If you would like to be considered for these prestigious NUCA awards in 2022, please submit your entry by the end of December 2022. Award details can be found at nuca.com/safetyawards.

Cleary Construction Inc. strives to instill in their employees that safety is the responsibility of everyone in the company, from the laborers and superintendents on a job site up to the chief executive officer and president, Mr. Darren Cleary.

It is this company-wide embrace of a fundamental requirement of a modern-day underground utility construction jobsite that earned Cleary Construction the win of the 201,000 to 500,000 manhours category in the 2021 NUCA William H. Feather Safety Award.

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SafetyWORKS strives to discover the methods used by each NUCA Safety Award winner to achieve this excellence. Each company is different, yet each goal reached is the same: to provide a safe workplace for all employees.

Their application for the NUCA Safety award could not have stated this goal more resoundingly, and we present it to our readers to contemplate:

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“Our commitment to safety at Cleary Construction Inc. is clear: We as an organization make safety a priority by requiring all new employees to go through safety orientation, participate in Safety Stand Down Days throughout the year, as well as annual company-wide safety training days.”

Safety is not only a mindset. It is an investment in training and reinforcement of basic procedures and rules. The company has a written safety program. It also has the personnel in place to reinforce this extremely important aspect of any construction project. Cleary employs a third-party safety consultant in addition to their Safety Department and Safety Committee. This consultant randomly inspects their jobsites and ensures that their employees are using the safest jobsite practices at all times.

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While Cleary Construction owns and maintains the vast majority of their trench protection systems and employee personal trained to spot defects, make repairs or even build specialty systems for those unique applications often encountered in our industry, they still heavily rely on NUCA trench safety partners for shoring design, rentals and problem-solving collaboration.

In the last three years, all of their foremen, supervisors, and managers have attended a 10-hour or 30-hour OSHA Construction Outreach Program. In addition, over 90% of their entire workforce has received competent person training so they can better understand the responsibilities placed on the projects “competent person”. That means every one of their current employees with this responsibility has had formal training in this area.

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“We recognized at an early stage in our growth that a strong safety culture was important to a successful company and vital to making sure everyone makes it home safe. We spend countless hours searching for heart-wrenching stories of incidents in our industry that kept our peers from going home to their families and even seek to have those stories told to our employees by survivors of terrible incidents. It’s important that every employee of the company understand the dangers of working in unsafe conditions. One of our best tools for doing that is awareness,” said company president Cleary.

Recognition of a safe work environment reinforces the culture, the message, and the inspections. Cleary keeps a visual running record of days without an incident and rewards their employees when they hit safety milestones. They are proud to achieve over 440+ days straight without lost time accidents.
These incentives along with the basic motivation of joining their families safe at home at the end of a workday serve as continual encouragement to remain diligent in their safety awareness.

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Cleary has been in business in Kentucky, Tennessee, and other states in the Midwest and Southeast for 36 years. Since the start of their safety program, the number of reported accidents has gone down. Their OSHA 300 log reported 10 accidents in 2019, two accidents in 2020, and only one reportable accident in 2021. Cleary is investing in Safety.

Cleary recognizes all of us in the industry have a responsibility to promote safety to others working on similar heavy civil construction projects. The company posts safety awareness messages on its popular social media accounts, and they show safety as a company priority at their job and career fairs to prospective employees pursuing a safe working environment in construction.

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Cleary seeks to have all its employees to take pride in the safety culture of the company. Cleary crews have responded by embracing the use of safety equipment and taking that extra step, as evidenced in Cleary’s OSHA reports.

The company’s leadership recognizes that supporting NUCA and their local chapters also supports their own safety culture. Cleary has representation on the Board of Directors for the NUCA of Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, and East Tennessee chapters. Mr. Cleary also serves on the NUCA National Board of Directors. Many Cleary executives also attend NUCA’s annual convention and Washington Summit events.

NUCA was proud to award Cleary Construction one of the 2021 William H. Feather Safety Awards at our March 2022 convention in San Antonio, witnessed by their peers. NUCA knows this company’s commitment to safety will bring them back to that podium once again.

Robert Baylor is NUCA’s Director of Communications.

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