Sundt Corporate Director of Safety & Quality Paul Levin.
Sundt’s celebration of Safety Week is especially poignant this year. This past March, our company won the Associated General Contractors of America Grand Award, handed out annually to the safest construction company in the country.
The award is given to a deserving contractor each year by its peers (AGC has more than 26,000 members). This was the second time our company earned the honor; the first came in 2006. The award evaluation compares a member’s safety record and program with other AGC members according to member size and construction type.
The Grand Award was one of two honors we earned during the AGC’s National Conference in San Antonio. We also took first place in the Highway Division among contractors with more than a million man hours. Winning the division award enabled us to compete for the Grand Award. We also won the national highway division in 2006, 2010 and 2013.
Corporate Director of Safety & Quality Paul Levin recently took time to answer a few questions about what the award means and what it says about our unwavering commitment to safety.
What does the AGC Grand Award mean to our clients?
Of the more than 26,000 contractors available to apply for the award, Sundt was recognized by its peers as being a leader in construction safety. It demonstrates to clients we are committed to improving our safety efforts every single day. Our clients want validation we are dedicated and committed to safety the way they are.
How did Sundt earn the award?
Fifty-two companies made it to San Antonio to present about their company safety program. Our crew of five employee-owners demonstrated our safety program’s passion, commitment and focus on continuous improvement by safety role-playing. We personalized what we do every day by recreating real-life safety challenges at the jobsite so the judges understood safety is more than just words on paper or a PowerPoint on a screen. We believe in Safety by Choice so at the end of each day, our employees are able to walk out of the jobsite gate talking about their families, their kids playing baseball, etc.
Why is safety such an important value for our company?
It goes way beyond rules and regulations. It’s not worth coming into work if we can’t go home safely. We want all employees, subcontractor employees and anyone associated with our projects to go home safely every day.
What does Sundt do to encourage safety on jobsites?
We encourage and recognize employee-owners for making good safety choices. We want people modeling and coaching safe behavior. If people are making high-risk decisions, we coach them to make safer choices. And it always comes down to recognition. You have to model the behavior you want. People always respond better with positive reinforcement versus constant feedback on what they are doing wrong.
What’s an example of something we do to make our workplaces safe?
Most contractors complete a task hazard analysis at the beginning of a task. We focus on revising our THA anytime something changes: If we add a person to a crew, if we’re using a crane instead of a forklift. We realized during review meetings many of our incidents were happening because we didn’t properly assess new equipment, mechanical or employee changes. We hadn’t gone over all the hazards. We realized the plan changed, however we didn’t call a safety timeout to reevaluate and reassess.Anyone on a jobsite can call a safety timeout any time he or she sees something that needs to be addressed. It empowers our employees and makes our jobsites safer.
National Safety Week begins today and Sundt is celebrating by hosting seminars and workshops that increase our company’s concentration on topics such as ladder safety, excavation requirements, eye protection and glove use.
Every year, more than 80,000 workers suffer an injury on construction jobsites across the U.S. Fall prevention continues to be a focus. Failure of those safety standards was among the top 10 most frequently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during fiscal year 2014.
Sundt’s Safety by Choice program focuses on both how and why we need to be safe. We encourage our employee-owners to make good safety choices every day so they can go home every evening to enjoy time with family and friends.
The industry is rallying around safety initiatives. National and global construction firms comprising the Construction Industry Safety Council and the Incident and Injury Free Forum have joined forces with a single aim: to inspire everyone in the industry to be leaders in safety.
Sundt’s track record is strong: This past March, we were named the safest construction company in the country for the second time by the Associated General Contractors of America. We also won the award in 2006. Our goal remains to support and maintain a positive safety culture while continually improving our overall record and advancing safety in our industry.
Please come back to our blog all week as we report on company activities, wrapping up with a Q&A on Friday with Paul Levin, our Corporate Director of Safety and Quality.
Tom Case was promoted to Executive Vice President and COO, Civil Group Manager on Oct. 1. His new duties include responsibility for Heavy Civil, Mining & Industrial and Concrete Operations.
With nearly 30 years in the industry, Tom has significant experience in large complex heavy civil construction and transportation projects, business processes and administration. He has industry-wide board-level experience, both locally and nationally, including Chairman of the Associated General Contractors of America Highway & Transportation Division.
He recently took questions about his vast industry experience, his influences and few of the reasons why customers choose Sundt.
What inspired you to choose the construction field for your career?
Both my father and grandfather were in the construction industry. They owned their own businesses in the deep foundation drilling area of the industry and I grew up working for my father.
What are the things you’re most excited about as you assume new duties?
I enjoy the challenges of building teams of highly motivated and successful individuals who collectively solve difficult problems and build very interesting projects.
How vital is it for the federal government to address our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs?
It is extremely important to our nation’s economy that we have a healthy transportation network to move people, goods and services through our country. We are the wealthiest economy in the world yet we have a weakening infrastructure that gets worse every day we neglect to invest in much needed improvements.
What expertise do we offer customers to help them solve their transportation needs?
Sundt is a leader in a variety of alternative contract methods such as CMAR/CMGC, design-build and conventional design-bid-build construction. We provide collaboration and innovation with our clients, partners and subcontractors/suppliers. We have strong values including a culture of safety and quality.
Our company has tackled several heavy civil challenges, including reconstruction of the Sellwood Bridge in Portland. What’s the importance of having inquisitive minds and flexibility out in the field?
It is essential that our mindset constantly evolve to identify and solve problems for our clients that create value where we all can prosper. We must listen to learn and be open to change if we are going to meet the growing challenges in the future.
What has been the most significant change in the industry in your nearly 30 year career?
The use of alternative forms of contracting. When I started in this industry, the majority of contracts were design-bid-build. Low bid does not necessarily mean best value. Today, the majority of Sundt’s contracts are either design-build or CMAR. When owners have a choice in who they trust and want to deliver value, they choose Sundt. That was one of the reasons I came to Sundt.
How would you describe your management style?
I have high expectations for myself and for the teams I work with. People want to be successful and my goal is to help them achieve success for themselves individually and for their teams. I believe my style is to build high-performing teams in a high-performing culture.
Where do you like to travel?
My wife and I have been to Europe twice and we are returning to Africa later this month. We also have been to Australia and New Zealand. We would love to return to New Zealand.
What books have you read that impacted your life or career?
Professionally, my favorite book is “Drive” by Daniel Pink, who writes about what motivates us. I also like Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” and John Kotter’s books on change. Personally, I have been influenced by author Max Lucado, who has written several wonderful books about spirituality, and Malcom Gladwell, who writes about life’s details and challenges.
Who was your most influential mentor?
Both of my parents influenced me most early in my life and my wife Lisa now has the most influence as we recently celebrated 30 years of marriage.
What are some of your favorite activities in your free time?
I like to golf, hike, mountain bike and read in my spare time.