April 2020 Update from Safety Week 2020 Chair Scott Cassels
Safety Week members, sponsors and advocates:
As chair of Safety Week 2020, I wanted to share a few thoughts on our current global situation and an update on our plans for Safety Week.
The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything any of us have ever dealt with in our careers. It has challenged our companies in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few months ago. As an industry, we’re navigating different federal, provincial, state and local government guidelines for our projects, and adapting to new norms for social distancing, cleaning and hygiene, visitor access and so much more. Simply put, the pandemic has impacted virtually every part our businesses.
Despite all of the uncertainty and change, one thing has remained constant from pre-COVID-19 to now – our most important responsibility is to support the health and safety of our people.
Our Safety Week 2020 theme — Built on Safety — is a fitting description of how our industry is responding to the pandemic. Every change we’ve made as companies — from implementing stricter PPE requirements and eliminating mass safety meetings in favor of small toolbox talks, to ending unnecessary travel and transitioning to work-from-home setups for support staff — has been done with safety at the forefront.
As we make changes to help protect our people, their families and our communities from the threat of COVID-19, we cannot lose focus on keeping people safe from our traditional work hazards. It’s more important now than ever that we train our people on the right and safe ways to build our work, and confirm those processes are followed. We must stay focused on our fundamentals and continue to reinforce our company’s safety culture to ensure that no one gets hurt.
Much of our industry has been classified by the government as essential and has been asked to keep working. This essential designation has reminded me of how proud I am to be part of the construction industry. Families and businesses depend on the work we build for clean water, reliable power, safe transportation, and as we’ve become especially aware these days, accessible health care facilities. We have not taken our roles as an essential industry lightly. Thank you for your efforts.
Safety Week was originally scheduled to take place May 4-8. We made the decision in mid-March to postpone. The events of the past several weeks have confirmed that was the right choice.
We are still not in a position to announce a new date for Safety Week. As we monitor this evolving situation, we remain optimistic that we will host Safety Week in late summer. The ways we traditionally marked Safety Week — with mass safety meetings, all-hands equipment demonstrations and recognition barbecues — may need to be adjusted, but I’m confident we will find a way to recommit as an industry and as companies to the processes and practices that have allowed us to improve how we protect the men and women that build our work. When we do announce a new Safety Week date, we will provide updated best practices for how teams can safely participate.
It’s been encouraging to see our industry come together during this crisis. For continued support, we have updated the Safety Week website to link to more COVID-19 national information sites that may be helpful for you. On our Safety Week social media accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, we’ll share posts from our member companies that show how they’re adapting to the current situation and giving back to support important causes and organizations in their communities with their time, talents and resources.
On behalf of the entire Safety Week executive committee, we wish you and your teams well. Be safe.
Safety Week 2020 Executive Committee Chair
Executive Vice President, Kiewit Corporation