May 17th, 2012

The People Behind the Safety Statistics


PIERRE, SD – When the actions of people are translated into statistics, the human aspect of the issue can get lost in the figures.  When South Dakota places 4th in workplace fatalities, according to the 2012 AFL-CIO annual report, it is easy to draw quick conclusions and cast aspersions. 

When it comes to worker safety, the numbers represent real employees and employers working hard to make a living and go home safe.  “Safety should never be a competitive advantage or a talking point in public disputes.  Worker safety is about people,” commented Ben Holst, Safety and Training Coordinator for the Associated General Contractors of South Dakota (AGC).

Anyone involved in the day-to-day practice of worker safety will testify to its complexity.  Regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a piece of the safety puzzle, but best practices are found far above OSHA standards.

Start the day on a J. Scull Construction, L.G. Everist, Myrl and Roy’s Paving or Sioux Falls Construction jobsite and you will see every employee stretching to prevent injury.  Hills Materials and Muth Electric have establish automated systems for employees to report incidents where someone could have been injured but was not, with the goal of preventing all accidents.  These actions go above and beyond what is required and demonstrate contractor commitment to safety.

Together the Safety Council, OSHA Extension at SDSU, AGC and countless other providers offer safety training and consultation to South Dakota’s workforce.  For each group, safety is about people.

The summer construction season has started and road workers are out in force.  Every driver passing through a work zone shares in the responsibility to be safe.  A recent highway work zone study conducted by the AGC of America shows that 68% of the nation’s highway contractors experienced motor vehicle crashes in their construction zones during the past year. 

The study also reported that work zone crashes are more likely to kill construction workers than those in vehicles.  AGC of SD president, Nathan Reede, Upper Plains Contracting says it is important for people to slow down when traveling through work zones. He says it doesn’t matter if the work zones are on highways or city streets, people need to be careful.
Safety is about people watching out for people. 

The AGC of South Dakota is a voluntary trade association of more than 500 contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, vendors and service firms.