Report proves safety best practices depress recordable incident rates

The Associated Builders and Contractors 2016 Safety Performance Report — Understanding the Impact of Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP) Participation documents proactive practices’ potential to reduce recordable incidents up to 86 percent, making the best-performing builders and contractors 700-plus percent safer than the industry average. Six leading indicators have the most dramatic impact: substance abuse program; new hire and site-specific safety orientations; toolbox talks; near-miss/near-hit analyses; and, site safety committee.

ABC 2016 Safety Performance Report was released last month during 2016 Safety Week to further the industry’s understanding of how to make construction jobsites safer. Packed with infographics and practical takeaways, it can be obtained as a pdf from

“Until now, relatively little research has been conducted on the correlation between the use of ‘leading indicators’ and safer construction jobsites,” says ABC President Michael Bellaman. “Now we have empirical evidence from members doing real work on real projects that shows implementing these best practices can produce world-class construction safety programs.”

The Safety Performance Report is based on more than 1,700 sets of unique company data gathered from ABC member companies in building or heavy construction, civil engineering and specialty trades. It tracks 35 data points from ABC 2015 STEP participants to determine the correlation between implementing leading indicator use and lagging indicator performance, which is measured by the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) and Days Away and Restricted or Transferred (DART) rate. Each data point was sorted using statistically valid methodology developed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Survey, and combined to produce analyses of STEP participant performance against BLS industry average incidence rates. Among findings:

  • Companies attaining the highest level of STEP participation, Diamond, reduced TRIR by 86 percent compared to the BLS industry average of 3.6 injuries/fatalities per 100 full-time employees.
  • Companies with a robust substance abuse program/policy dramatically outperformed those with weaker or no programs, reducing DART by 55 percent and 80 percent, respectively.
  • Conducting a new hire safety orientation of more than 195 minutes reduced TRIR by 93 percent compared to one conducted under 75 minutes.
  • Companies that held site-specific safety orientations reduced their TRIR by 66 percent.
  • Holding daily, versus monthly, toolbox talks (brief, single-topic sessions conducted on the site for all employees) reduced TRIR by 79 percent.
  • Executive engagement and a high level of employee participation created significant results; high-scoring builders or contractors in each area reduced TRIR by 57 percent.

The ABC National Environment, Health & Safety Committee founded STEP in 1989 as a safety benchmarking and improvement tool. Participating members measure their safety processes and policies on 20 key components through a detailed questionnaire with the goal of implementing or enhancing safety programs that reduce jobsite incidence rates. Applying world-class processes, the committee contends, dramatically improves safety performance among participants regardless of company size or type of work.