Taking a Safe Approach

On the jobsite, safety is not a choice — it’s a priority. Adhering to proper safety procedures during a project helps to ensure that everyone gets home unharmed after the day is done. By developing structured safety programs and reinforcing safe practices to employees, companies can be rest assured that their crews are prepared for whatever a job may throw at them.

To recognize the companies that strive for safety and the general well-being of their employees, NUCA awards companies with the William H. Feather Safety Award. Who is William H. Feather you ask? He was the very first chairman of the Safety Committee and widely regarded as the backbone of NUCA’s early safety initiatives. He was honored for his many contributions to the association in 1976 when he was named Ditch Digger of the Year, but his premature passing led NUCA to search for some additional way to commemorate his passion for safety. At NUCA’s 1978 convention in New Orleans, a new award was created to recognize those contractors who exemplify Mr. Feather’s commitment to a safe workplace.

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The awards are given to companies based on incidence rate (OSHA 300 log), company safety statement and company safety program information. Participation in NUCA safety programs and activities is also taken into consideration. The 2012 William H. Feather Safety awards were given out at the NUCA Washington Summit this past May. Check out the recipients over the next two pages.

Pam Kleineke is Associate Editor of Utility Contractor.

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Overall Winner

Petticoat-Schmitt Civil Contractors

Petticoat-Schmitt Civil Contractors

Jacksonville, Fla.
Based on a company culture of safety, quality and efficiency, Petticoat-Schmitt is committed to providing the proper training for its employees so everyone is safe on the job. From employee education and skills development to monthly meetings and problem-solving sessions, the company works to instill the importance of safety into each and every one of its workers — helping them understand their role and responsibility and value to finish the product the company  provides to its customers.

Communication is key to safety at Petticoat-Schmitt, and the company encourages open dialogue among its employees during jobsite visits. From a new hire to management, safety is important for all levels at the company. For example, Petticoat-Schmitt has held a NUCA Safety Leadership Class for all of its managers. Company President Ryan Schmitt and Safety Director Jeff Blomgren have played integral roles in making sure all employees attend classes and receive the proper training. The company supplements its safety program with a variety of educational services provided through NUCA, including training DVDs.  

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Petticoat-Schmitt Civil Contractors500,001-1,000,000 Man-Hours

Distribution Construction

Greensboro, N.C.
Safety training begins on Day 1 at Distribution Construction and is continuously reinforced over time. The company starts new employees off with basic skills training so they know how to perform their jobs safely. Ongoing training is then provided to long-term employees — allowing them to improve their skills and remain motivated to attain higher levels of safety and performance. Specialized training is offered through the company to ensure employees have the knowledge, skills and ability to perform industry critical DOT Covered Tasks. Distribution Construction values interaction and communication among its employees to achieve success in its safety program. For example, the company holds weekly job-specific safety meetings to ensure employees are aware of potential hazards. It also relies on written communication to highlight employee safety achievements, safety goals and tips. Distribution Construction has also established an employee wellness program, which has helped prevent injury and illness among employees, as well as reduce employee absences and improve productivity.  

Petticoat-Schmitt Civil Contractors200,001-500,000 Man-Hours

MAC Construction and Excavating Inc.

New Albany, Ind.
Managed by a degreed safety engineer, MAC Construction and Excavating’s safety (EHS) program encompasses all of the company’s services in one, informative platform. Its written program contains approximately 38 policies along with pertinent forms and checklists, says the company. Education acts as the backbone of MAC’s EHS, with employee orientation, continual onsite workforce training and continuing education for supervision and management all playing an important role. Safety begins immediately for MAC employees — starting with attending a four-hour orientation covering personal instructions on the requirements of the corporate program. More than a dozen company training programs are used throughout the year to educate MAC’s workforce and include a variety of topics including fall protection and confined space, to name a few. The company offers these programs at both the “User” and “Competent Person” level. Continuous education is a requirement for MAC employees with opportunities such as NUCA certifications and up to 15 additional hours of safety training.

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Petticoat-Schmitt Civil ContractorsUp to 50,000 Man-Hours

Iowa Trenchless LLC

Panora, Iowa
For the third year in a row, Iowa Trenchless is receiving the Safety Award in this category. Following the approach “Think first, act second and always be prepared,” Iowa Trenchless’ principal goal is that every employee goes home each day without injury. Education is an important part of its safety program, and each employee participates in OSHA 10-Hour, Excavation Safety and Competent Person, Confined Spaces Entry and CPR/First Aid training. Company President Jason Clark is a NUCA-certified OSHA Confined Spaces Entry and Competent Person trainer. According to the company, employees are motivated to work safely, both for their own personal well-being and for that of their coworkers. Iowa Trenchless evaluates its employees throughout the year — with an emphasis on safety competency and safe practice procedures — and rewards them accordingly. The company says it continually benefits from its NUCA membership thanks to great resources such as updates in safety training, industry standards and requirements.