Woodard & Curran holds the health and safety of our employees, contractors, clients, and the public in highest regard. We are committed to providing a workplace that reflects this value. Creating a safe work environment is a key behavior that we uphold within our core value to “put people first.” Woodard & Curran’s safety culture begins at the highest level, striving to engage and empower our employees to work and advocate for their safety and the safety of those around them.
Increasing our training hours for safety
In our 2019 employee engagement survey, 96 percent of employees agreed that health and safety (H&S) is valued at Woodard & Curran. This is demonstrated in our history of increased H&S trainings, maintained and/or reduced incident rates, and the numerous awards our projects and people have received for safety programs and practices. Over the past few years, we have added additional positions to our H&S team to provide more on-site support to our Operations & Management (O&M) teams and we continue to increase employee engagement around the importance of safety through continuing communication campaigns.
Since we started comprehensively reporting our H&S training data in 2016, we have witnessed an increased head count and continued our focus on expanding trainings. In the same time frame, we significantly increased our total annual hours of training from 5,313 to 7,596 hours. We have maintained an overall average of approximately 8 hours of training per employee, reaching over 9 hours in 2019 with a higher number of in person trainings. We expected and planned for a larger number of in-person trainings in 2020, but pivoted to lead efforts necessary for pandemic response. Regardless, we still saw a substantial increase in our average training hours per employee within our O&M business; increasing from an average of 9 hours per employee in 2016 to just under 13 in 2020 (and reaching an average of over 15 hours per O&M employee in 2019).
Seeing the value of robust trainings
Expanding our H&S trainings has proven effective, according to our incident rate history. One of our 2020 goals was to reflect expectations of incident rates, aiming for a 50 percent reduction in total recordable incident rate (TRIR) from each previous year. Since 2016, our TRIR for our Consulting and Corporate Services teams has ranged from 0 to 0.5; though slightly increasing in 2020 from 2019, it is still 25 percent below the industry average.1&2 Our O&M business TRIR has seen continuous improvements from the 2016 rate, down from 4.7 in 2016 to 1.3 in 2020; the 2020 rate was 76 percent below the industry average.
From 2016 to 2019, our DART rates remained zero for our Consulting & Corporate Services teams. In 2020, the shift to different work settings resulted in two ergonomic-related incidents, increasing our DART rate to 0.3. While still below the industry average, we continue our aim to keep this rate at zero. In 2020, our O&M DART rate once again reached zero. This rate has continued to remain low or at zero since the 2.6 rate reported for 2016. We separated Woodard & Curran Constructors hours worked and incidents recorded in 2019, and that business continues to report a zero TRIR and DART rate.3
Redirecting resources in 2020
Our H&S resources adjusted to new situations due to the spread of COVID-19. We shifted from planned, in-person trainings and on-site project support to managing the dynamic situation caused by the pandemic. Here’s a handful of initiatives the company put in place to ensure our people remained safe and healthy.
- Biweekly coronavirus updates kept employees informed and engaged in maintaining safe practices and included the deployment of employee surveys, development of a COVID-19 Testing Resources tool, and access to pre-paid, at home COVID-19 tests.
- Mandatory COVID-19 and home office ergonomics trainings were developed for employees.
- The number of virtual computer workstation evaluations tripled, identifying ergonomic deficiencies and recommendations for home office improvements.
- Employees received disaster relief payments, intended for expenses related to the COVID-19 emergency declaration.
COVID-19 safety protocols and management tools were developed for staff, including but not limited to:
- Development of an O&M COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan for staff who continued to operate water, wastewater, and water reclamation facilities throughout the pandemic.
- Development of an extensive Return to Office (RTO) plan, which will launch with official return dates.
- Development of protocols for entering an office or plant, including a pre-screening process to identify individuals who may carry SARS-CoV-2 and reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus in or through the workplace.
1 The 2019 TRIR industry average for O&M (municipal and private water sewerage industries) is 5.4 (NAICS 221300) and DART industry average for O&M (municipal and private water sewerage industries) is 3 (NAICS 221300). The 2019 TRIR industry average for engineering consulting and corporate business areas is 0.71 (NAICS Code 541300). The 2019 DART industry average for engineering consulting and corporate business areas is 0.71 (NAICS Code 541300).
2 TRIR is the number of recordable incidents per 200,000 hours worked. DART is based on the number of hours, per 200,000 requiring “days away, restrictions, and transfers.”
3 Our Woodard & Curran Constructors business delivers design-build projects as the prime design-build entity, in a joint venture with a trusted design-build partner, or as a design subconsultant to a trusted design-build contractor.