For over a decade, Haskell has been a member of the exclusive Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Diamond Level for Safety. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, it has Recordable Incident Rate that’s at least 70 percent lower than its industry peers. In 2019, Haskell achieved ABC’s highest safety honor, the Pinnacle National Safety Excellence Award.
“We’re still hurting people,” Simons said. “So great, pat yourself on the back, celebrate, but let’s roll up our sleeves and keep going.”
Simons personifies Haskell’s unrelenting commitment to the safety of its field teams and contract partners. Driving operational excellence and “providing team members the best job of their lives” are two pillars of the company’s strategic roadmap, and safety reflects directly on each.
“Nothing we do in this business should be that dangerous if we plan, we follow our procedures, we treat people with respect and support what they’re doing every day,” Simons said. “Every time someone gets hurt on a Haskell job, it’s personal to me. It’s personal to our leadership. And I think people see that.”
Safety is in Haskell’s DNA, Simons says, and the company has become a true leader in safety in the workplace. Over the past decade, efforts to provide the safest work environments possible have prevented at least 310 recordable injuries that would have occurred had Haskell performed at the level of industry peers.
“Haskell has always had a strong safety culture,” Simons said. “I’m really proud of the fact it’s become a way of life. That’s a great achievement. You spend a third of your life working, so safety is very important.”
Haskell’s innovative safety practices affect everyone, from the highest rung of executive leadership to the subcontracted craftsmen on the job site.
One example is Haskell’s “Take 5” Safety and Quality program, which closes the gap between leadership and craftsmen using the common theme of safety. “Take 5” requires members of Haskell’s upper management – more than 70 participants the level of senior project leaders and above – to visit job sites each quarter and talk with craftsmen about their training and safety habits.
Questions lead to conversations – “Have you been trained for this task?” “What would you do if this went wrong or you saw someone else doing something wrong?” “How would you do this task in a safer manner than you already do it?” – and not only build bonds but act as an informal audit that can lead to improved job safety practices.
“We’ve found a lot of ‘aha’ moments where the craftspeople are like, ‘Wow, nobody’s ever asked my opinion on stuff before,’” Simons said. “It’s made it very personal, and it’s got leadership actively engaged. It’s making a difference.”
Even the safety manuals at Haskell have been examined and redesigned. Realizing that the end user of the safety manual – the workers and craftsmen – would be unlikely to read a book hundreds of pages long, Haskell created its Code of Safe Practices in 2002. This companion document is 10 pages and is filled with simple language and practices that everyone can understand.
“It’s in every contract and it sets the minimum expectation that everybody on a Haskell project, regardless of the size of the project, is going to follow,” Simons said. “These are the rules we’re going to play by. Now everybody has the opportunity to look across a Haskell jobsite, and everybody should look the same, act the same, and hold each other accountable.”
For clients, Haskell’s focus on safety means more efficient projects, less expensive insurance, fewer delays and happier workers. All of that is good for the bottom line.
In 2006, Haskell joined the American Contractors Insurance Group (ACIG). This group of peer companies shares safety tips and practices. Haskell ranks in the top five in safety among the 40 ACIG firms.
These days, Haskell’s safety protocols are so influential that their standards are even practiced on international job sites. Simons says he’s especially proud that their safety programs are being utilized around the world.
“None of this would be possible if a man didn’t have a vision of what the industry needed to look like. It’s people first,” he said. “I think that was Preston Haskell’s vision: If we engage people in the right processes, provide them the tools to do their job, they can have a great career and a productive life with their families. It’s the same with safety.”