A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

What If?

The National AGC Safety and Health Conference] was held in San Antonio in January and I had the opportunity to present the Construction Career Collaborative (C3) industry initiative to over 160 safety professionals.  The initiative was well received by our safety professionals as a means to verifiably provide safety training to each craft worker and supervisor.

I asked them to imagine an industry where each craft worker received a base level of safety training – training that each employer had knowledge of and could rely on as being received by the employee.  What if, instead of each employer giving beginning safety training each time an employee is hired, employers documented each employee’s safety training under consistent standards developed by our industry?  What if each supervisor working for every contractor and specialty contractor had the same basic safety training so that each craft worker received consistent instructions regardless of who their employer was that particular day?  The safety professionals’ ideas for advancing a safe environment for craft workers from that point forward were astounding.  A creative group of professionals ready to advance a safer workplace – a workplace that they have already helped advance tremendously over the last few decades.

How is it that while craft workers’ real pay has not increased in the 30 years I have been in the industry, and craft training is becoming the exception rather than the rule, the safety performance of the commercial construction industry has improved?  It is because Owners demanded it, and what Owners demand we will supply.  As the C3 initiative was being developed, Owner demand was identified as the driver for improvement of the craft workforce.

So I ask you to imagine that if the AGC held a National Craft Training Conference tomorrow who would you send?  Would the person you send be as knowledgeable and dedicated to improving craft skills as the person you have in charge of safety?  What if our Owners demanded to see our productivity rate in addition to our Workers’ Compensation Experience Modifier or a rework or total quality rate in addition to our Recordable or Lost Time incident rate?  Would Contractors’ and Specialty Contractors’ quality improve?  Would the speed at which we accomplish our work and deliver our projects increase?  Would Owners benefit by having a better-built facility with fewer maintenance issues?

On the other hand, what will happen if our industry does nothing about improving our craft workforce?


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