Construction company begins safety program

Each day starts with ‘huddle’ to loosen up bodies and review plans together.
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Rockford Construction employees start their day at the job site with a series of exercises designed to help avoid injury. Courtesy Rockford Construction

Rockford Construction rolled out a new safety initiative to help its employees jumpstart their day.

Paul Rozich, director of safety and risk management at Rockford, said the firm created the Rock Solid Start program, which aims to prevent accidents and injuries.

After successful pilots last year, the program was implemented at various construction sites and offices this spring.

The program is multifaceted. It allows team members from all parts of the company — including construction management, property management, real estate development and First Cut, Rockford’s custom carpentry, millwork, hard surface manufacturing team — and its trade contractors to start their day by communicating about daily tasks and engage in warmup exercises called Stretch and Flex for about 10-15 minutes before the start of their workday.

“This gives us the opportunity to discuss the day’s activities,” Rozich said. “If we have high-hazard activities going on that day, we want our trade contractors to be aware of what we are doing and how we are going to do it. It is a great opportunity to focus on safety and job site coordination efforts.

“Construction is a high-hazard industry. Day in and day out, employees are bending, lifting, swinging and walking, so the benefits of including a daily huddle with safety in mind, planning in mind and the Stretch and Flex portion are great for us. Our exercises focus on the neck, shoulders, hands and wrists. Then we’ll do some mid-torso exercises where we bend down and touch our toes.”

The warmup exercises prepare trade contractors for strenuous work during the day on construction sites.

“An electrician would be up and down a ladder doing overhead work, which includes bending of the wrists,” Rozich said. “A trim carpenter might be working on their knees and bending at the waist and squatting. We obviously have floor installation that goes on, so a lot of people who are installing carpets or flooring products are bent over, and are on their hands and knees all day long.”

Rozich said similar programs like the Rock Solid Start are common in the construction industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data, there were 1,102 fatalities in the construction industry in 2019 in private industry and government.

The report revealed that the deaths represented 20.7% of total workplace fatalities in the United States (5,333), and also falls, slips and trips in 2019 accounted for 32% of nonfatal injuries involving days away from work in the private construction industry (25,460 cases of 79,660).

Some of the causes of injuries, Rozich said, involve workers walking on uneven surfaces, which can result in ankle and/or knee injuries.

In addition to preventing the risk of injuries, Rozich said the program helps to build camaraderie and a team environment as they work together.

“It is a win-win situation,” he said. “When we all work together as a team, we win as a team and this program is a part of that process.”

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