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Winning with Safety

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Winning with Safety

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How Encore Electric developed a Culture of Safety Excellence and was named the safest construction company in America by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) 

Encore Electric installed impressive lighting features at the new Gaylord Rockies Resort (photo credit: Dan Ham Photography).

Editor's Note: This blog was co-authored by Jack Cain, Encore Electric's director of health and safety and Marlin Linder, vice president and director of project resources for Encore. 

Construction is dangerous work. We work in an industry that experiences challenges with workplace safety and talent recruitment, while needing to meet increasing demands and drive industry growth — often times at significant cost and burden. At Encore Electric, our culture is a relentless focus on keeping our employees and our workplaces safe and productive. Our efforts helped create a unique workplace culture that cares about safety in the entire industry — our employees, their families, our fellow craftspeople on the job and our customers. And because of that, we’ve been rewarded with safe projects, continued opportunities for our customers, and high employee satisfaction.

We have been fortunate to receive the Grand Award at the 2019 Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA) presented by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) and sponsored by Willis Towers Watson. We are pleased to partner with Viewpoint, which shares our passion for construction safety and we are excited to share our story, insights and best practices to help construction companies learn from our experience in a session at the upcoming Viewpoint Collaborate conference.

Here’s a look at our story — and a bit of a preview of what we’ll discuss at our session:

Developing a Safety Culture

Safety is paramount as an Encore Electric team member measures a piece of conduit (photo credit: Ellen Jaskol Photography).

Safety has to start at the top of the organization, and it needs to be something to which senior leadership is absolutely committed. Our commitment to safety goes back to our company’s founding more than 16 years ago. From the beginning, our company’s leaders — from our president through to field leadership — have put together a culture where any employee who sees something that is not safe is encouraged to speak-up and stop work. Employees are commended for pointing out that this condition is unsafe or recommending doing things a different way. We back each other up. We’re accountable to each other.

We have learned from the best. Each time we have had the chance to be invited to present to the judges for the Construction Safety Excellence Awards, we have had the opportunity to sit in on other presentations. There is some amazing work happening out there across the country and throughout our industry related to the best safety practices. We strive to incorporate what we have learned into our safety program. We are focused on continuous improvement and we promote a learning culture. It’s always a work in process.

We’re not perfect — no construction company is perfect. But it’s not okay for even one of our employees to get injured on the job. We work hard to ensure our craftspeople are prepared to avoid accidents and are ready to respond to any situation.

We want every one of our 850 employees to work safely and go home not just injury free, but better than when they got to work that morning. We strive to make a positive impact on our employees’ lives and that strong commitment to our people allows us to provide the highest level of service to our customers. 

So, How Did We Do It?

An Encore Electric team member organizes wiring during construction to maintain safe working spaces during the 2017 construction of the Gaylord Rockies Resort

Contractors of all shapes and sizes are held to rigid industry safety standards and regulations, but at Encore Electric, our commitment to safety excellence goes beyond industry baselines. Here is a look at just a few of the investments we have made:

  • We founded Encore University with more than 100 classes and training sessions to help our team members grow their skills and career paths — including more than 30 courses devoted to safety practices and principles
  • We immerse new hires in safety lessons during their orientations to drill home the importance of a continual safety commitment
  • We provide programs for counseling, drug and alcohol addiction and financial planning to ensure our employees and their families are cared for beyond the jobsites
  • We have daily safety huddles on every job site to reinforce safety procedures, discuss new tools and processes and more
  • We send text messages to the field with weather warnings, heat indexes and road closures to be sure they are thinking about everything that might impact their safety
  • If we do have an injury, we gather our team together to learn everything we can from the incident and then we share improvements and best practices with our teams
  • We use the latest technologies, like Viewpoint’s Spectrum Software to track our safety efforts, compiling safety checklists, incident reports, feedback and more, using one system to integrate our accounting, financial management, safety and project operations for a clear picture of our company’s health and productivity

When we were being considered for the Construction Safety Excellence Award, we did something unique. Our craftspeople showed how our safety culture runs deep into the organization. The judges asked our craftspeople questions about safety practices on their job sites and heard personal perspectives and experiences from each of our electricians. It was a clear home run for the judges to hear these stories.  

Return on Investments

The Encore Electric-installed lighting features of a train car that sits in the Grand Lodge at the Gaylord Rockies Resort (Photo credit: Brandon Tucker)

By making safety job one at Encore Electric, we’ve realized unparalleled benefits. Among them:

  • A 50 to 60 percent reduction in injuries in the past 10 years
  • Millions of dollars saved in workers’ compensation payouts and insurance
  • Nearly a million labor hours worked that would otherwise be lost to safety-related incidents
  • Projects are completed faster and with higher quality because our employees work in a safer environment and can focus on the work at hand
  • Happier employees and higher retention rates — Encore Electric was recently named to the Denver Post Top Workplaces list, which is entirely based on employee feedback
  • A reputation and safety track record that has helped us win more business

Of course, just because we’ve achieved safety success and won accolades doesn’t mean we’re going to rest. We're going to continue to challenge our teams every day when it comes to safety and success. We will continue to invest in the right people and technologies and learn from other leaders in our industry.

Our savings have already allowed us to invest in new technologies like Total Stations from Viewpoint parent company Trimble and prefabrication facilities that yield additional cost and time savings while keeping our teams safer. We are looking into Viewpoint Team to enhance our collaboration efforts in the future.

The CSEA award was truly for our employees. Do we want to earn this distinction again? You bet we do. But construction safety is much more than an award. It’s a culture, and above all it’s about keeping people safe. We’re excited to share our message with you, so come meet us in Portland in September, we’d like to hear about your safety successes, too.

Jack Cain serves as Encore Electric’s director of health and safety. In this vital role, he is responsible for the development and implementation of the organization’s comprehensive, award-winning health and safety program in the electrical construction, service and maintenance industry. He oversees a staff of safety professionals that make thousands of site visits a year, and has implemented numerous new programs dedicated to safety in the past few years, including a crisis program, a lessons learned meeting on accidents and near-misses and spearheaded an effort to help Encore Electric win the 2019 Associated General Contractors Willis Towers Watson Construction Safety Excellence Grand Award as the safest construction company in America.  He brings 30 years of health and safety expertise to Encore Electric projects and job sites every single day. 

Marlin Linder is a co-founder of Encore Electric and serves as vice president and director of project resources. He oversees all project leadership and manpower along with safety and master electrical licenses. He brings his expertise to preconstruction and construction operations. His efforts to position the company for the advantage of clients reflects his entrepreneurial passion, a drive that has propelled his 32-year career in the electrical industry, focused primarily in the mountains of Colorado, Denver, Colorado Springs and Montana.  Known for his expertise and understanding of the industry, Linder’s long history of managing multiple large business units is evident throughout the Rocky Mountain Region. 

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Jack Cain serves as Encore Electric’s director of health and safety. In this vital role, he is responsible for the development and implementation of the organization’s comprehensive, award-winning health and safety program in the electrical construction, service and maintenance industry.