For more than 40 million work hours every year, the PCL family of companies makes a commitment not to compromise the health and safety of our people. As one of our guiding principles, safety on a job site isn’t just an action we take; it’s part of our culture, embedded in how we build. We don’t just do safety; we work safely. We want everyone who steps onto one of our sites to share our organization’s goal of zero incidents.
PCL’s safety record is unparalleled, and we take pride in maintaining an overall total recordable incident rate (TRIR) and overall lost-time frequency rate (LTFR) in the industry. But being at the top isn’t enough, which is why we have set our sights higher, with a goal of eliminating all injuries, incidents and close calls from our work.
“If we don’t look after our people as our biggest asset, then we’re going to start failing. We challenge each other to live up to that standard, and publicly set a goal of zero incidents.” - Jim Barry, Vice President, Health, Safety & Environment.
It’s not enough for us to simply achieve that goal. Once we get there, we need to maintain it, and that’s why safety is a part of our employee-ownership culture. As owners, our employees are personally invested in the success of our company and our projects, both of which are dependent on the health and well-being of the person working next to them. That’s why safety is ingrained in our culture and our teams are provided with the tools, equipment, training, processes and best practices to pursue our goal of zero incidents.
“Safety doesn’t only mean harnesses and helmets—it means ensuring that, no matter what, our employees can clock out and go home to their families and friends.” Jim says.
At PCL, our Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) teams take the lead by creating a culture of safety within our organization, one that looks at all elements of completing work safely and prioritizing our employee’s health. That means not just avoiding incidents but preventing potential incidents from occurring. Our safety programs highlight risk and utilize behavior-based safety measures, technological advancements, principles of behavioral psychology, enhanced work planning philosophies and employee feedback to not just reduce incidents in the field but reduce risk as well.
“It might sound like a cliché, but at PCL, it’s absolutely true—we are all a family. We care about the wellbeing of each other, not only for the success of work projects, but also for how we interact as friends and family members and pillars of the community.” - Jim Barry
Two statistics best measure the safety record of a construction company: TRIR, a figure that takes into account how many Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordable incidents a firm has per number of hours worked; and LTFR, a stat that indicates a firm’s rate of lost-time injuries. For four of the past five years, our organization-wide TRIR has continually improved, and in 2020, it was 0.65 for the year—one of the lowest among all construction companies and the lowest in PCL history. While the optimal LTFR is zero, that is rarely the case in action. In 2020, our LTFR rate was 0.02, and we have committed to driving that number to 0.00 in future years. On average, our LTFR is exponentially better than industry averages, and within the company, there are several teams who have gone a decade and longer without a single lost-time incident.
“When it comes to safety, you can’t just talk—you have to live it. We always need to hold ourselves up to that standard. If you're not sincere about safety, people will sense that in a minute, and you will lose trust.” - Jim Barry
Our industry is undergoing rapid digital transformation, as is our understanding of how technology intersects with safety. We work with partners and utilize external tools to make job sites and projects safer while also developing our own technology to best capture essential data that not only identifies hazards but also prevents them.
Whether it is drones flying over sites to collect data or technology platforms that simulate job sites in unique circumstances such as extreme weather, our obligation to safety brings with it a commitment to understanding how technology creates safer job sites.
The HSE Hazard Safety Inspection app uses artificial intelligence to scan images taken at sites and identify potential risks. Using just a photo, the app can identify unsafe elements such as an improperly secured harness and instantly recall the policy that pertains to the incident.
Within a single jobsite image, the app can recognize things such as lanyards, leading edges, workers in relation to equipment and many more hazards. It also can spot an unsecured tool in a toolbelt that could be a hazard to workers below. As more data becomes available through ongoing use, the platform learns to identify new hazards.
“It’s moving so fast that it can educate the person performing the inspection, presenting the reference to the associated operational procedure to drive the lesson home. And there’s always that visual reference in the photo to create a permanent record of the hazard in case there’s a need for further discussion or verification. That picture is worth a thousand words in communicating a hazard to a partner, a foreman and other workers.” — Jim Barry
We are committed to providing our trade partners, clients and connections with mentorship and training that ensures workers get home safely every day. To that end, we have released information such as the Construction Smarts and Life Saving Absolutes and conduct safety seminars with hundreds of trade partners and senior managers across the industry.
“We firmly believe we have a responsibility to the industry to be as safe as possible and to share information. If everyone is being safe, it actually helps us out in a number of different areas. It becomes easier to find talent because construction then becomes a more enjoyable place to work.” - Jim Barry
Safety is Success
Over the years, PCL has received a number of awards for safety measures and low rates of incidents including the Ontario General Contractors Association, the Associated General Contractors of America, Associated Builders and Contractors, Canadian Safety Achievement Awards and more. But we continue to understand that safety is integral to the success of PCL, the most important goal remains achieving and maintaining zero incidents; for us this is the reward. For us, safety is the indicator of success.