Survey finds best practices net contractors nearly seven-fold safety gain

The Associated Builders and Contractors’ 2019 Safety Performance Report documents the dramatic impact of proactive practices to reduce recordable incidents by up to 85 percent, making the best-performing companies 680 percent safer than the industry average.

Report is posted at

“ABC’s fifth annual report on the use of leading indicators, such as substance abuse programs and toolbox safety talks, confirms that high-performing members have safer construction jobsites,” says Vice President of Health, Safety, Environment and Workforce Development Greg Sizemore. “This is one of the few studies of commercial and industrial construction firms doing real work on real projects, and it shows that implementing best practices can produce world-class construction safety programs.”

Published in conjunction with 2019 Construction Safety Week, Safety Performance Report is based on data gathered from ABC member companies recording just under 1 billion hours of work in conventional or heavy construction, civil engineering and specialty trades. It tracked 35 data points from builders or contractors that deployed STEP in 2018 to determine the correlation between leading indicator use and lagging indicator performance, which is measured by the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) and Days Away and Restricted or Transferred rate. Each of the data points was sorted using a statistically valid methodology developed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Survey, and then combined to produce analyses of STEP company performance against BLS industry average incident rates. Among the findings:

  • Respondents attaining the highest level of STEP performance, Diamond, reduced their TRIR 85 percent compared to the BLS industry average of 2.9 injuries/fatalities per 100 full-time employees.
  • Of the eight core leading indicators that had the most dramatic impact on safety performance in 2018, daily toolbox safety talks were the most effective—reducing TRIR by 85 percent compared to monthly sessions.
  • STEP participants with a robust substance abuse program/policy dramatically outperformed those with a weaker strategy, reducing their TRIR by 60 percent.
  • A biannual review and evaluation of safety program performance by executive leadership led to a 59 percent reduction in TRIR.
  • Analyzing and taking action on trailing indicators reduced TRIR by 57 percent.

Founded in 1989 as a safety benchmarking and improvement tool, ABC notes, STEP has evolved into a world-class safety management system that demonstrates safety leadership and cultural transformation to clients. Participating ABC 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. Applying world-class processes dramatically improves safety performance among participants regardless of company size or type of work.