By
Jerry Ouimet

A couple of years ago, one of our partner clients put us up to a pretty big challenge. As one who doesn’t like to shy away from a good challenge, I was intrigued (and flattered, actually). The client challenged us with a two-fold issue.

The first issue was the ability to hire qualified, construction safety professionals. The current war for talent in the construction business has been exacerbated with fewer highly trained people and great waves of wisdom retiring from the industry. Having qualified safety and quality professionals in place is key to our clients’ success. We see a direct correlation between safety, quality, and financial performance, and the regulatory requirements put on the industry haven’t lessened over time.

The second part of this is that not only did the client challenge CSDZ to solve an industry issue, they also believed we could bring a solution to the problem. The problem, he articulated, was that hiring individuals from the outside meant the new employees rarely fit the business’s culture and there wasn’t an industry solution to train internally.

Let’s just say the challenge was noted and accepted! Our Director of Risk Management, Scott Staffon, and our Risk and Safety team began the arduous process of building a program from scratch and getting it certified nationally. Scott’s team developed ALL of the training, education, and testing materials. It was a big task, but we were fortunate to have skilled educators and certified trainers on the risk and safety team. What they created is now what we call the Safety Leadership Academy.

Last December, we graduated the first class of 28 and this year we had a waiting list and will graduate 36 in the year-long course. The students meet monthly and have approximately 100 hours of coursework, study, and group projects as they prepare for an industry certification in Construction Safety. One of our goals is to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries on our clients’ construction sites, and we believe this program is definitely contributing to our partners’ success and working toward making construction safer for everyone.

The Safety and Leadership Academy is a great source of pride for the Risk and Safety team and our entire construction business. We appreciate them greatly for their contribution, and we’re challenged to have this apply more broadly to contributing to our clients and the construction industry.

As we’re now underway with our 2nd class of the academy, my takeaways are this:

  1. When we deeply engage with clients and understand their business, we have an opportunity to add massive value and contribute greatly to their success.
  2. Innovation isn’t always about technology or process. It can be about improving communication, educating, and coaching others to improve performance.
  3. The construction industry is one with real risk to life and property, and it’s in need of more professionals to train and educate field workers on identifying, managing, and avoiding risk. As committed partners to the industry, we share an obligation to help make it a safer job for each and every worker and to help our clients and the industry manage these risks.
  4. A committed team of people, engaged in the business, listening to clients, and accepting big challenges, can create massive value and make a real difference.

In this our 100th year, CSDZ will continue to strive to contribute to our partners’ success with unique solutions and innovations. We look forward to the next challenge!