Dawson's Safety Milestone: Million Hours and Counting

Multi-faceted Dawson Construction has much to be proud of these days starting with the reaching of a major safety milestone: One million man hours worked without a loss work day.

That milestone means that for six years weve met our goal of everyone goes home safe says Dawson President Pete Dawson. Plus our crews understand that a low EMR makes us more competitive and lowers our costs -- and that opens doors for us for more work.

Those million hours were worked on Dawsons Washington State projects but the firms Alaska operation also has a great safety track record as the Alaska National Insurance Company recently recognized Dawson for achieving three consecutive years without a lost day due to injury.

Pete says that the firm has always emphasized safety and that its Safety Manager Brian Murphy really brought us to the next level of professionalism and intense focus on safety and safety training.

Brian in turn is quick to credit the crew. Its one thing for us to set goals but the guys in the field need to carry it through he says. Without their buy-in support and ideas it wouldnt happen. We take the time to explain the Experience Modification Rating (EMR) to our crews and how they impact it. We have quarterly catered safety lunches to encourage their inputs for innovative safety ideas and incentives such as our Ideas that Make Cents program.. From the minute people are hired they are steeped in the Dawson Way with regard to safety.

In July Dawson Construction received a 2012 As Low As You Can Go award for its .60 EMR from AGC Group Retro. Emphasizing the personal-action-to-EMR connection with its workforce has been a key for the AGC Safety Team member.width=300

AGC Safety Director Mandi Kime says that Dawsons track record of safety excellence doesnt happen by chance. To achieve results like this you need strong management and ownership commitment the vision and leadership of a great safety professional who creates buy-in with the front line employees and employees who care for themselves and each other says Kime. Dawson clearly has invested wholeheartedly in its safety culture and it is gratifying to see them reach such a phenomenal milestone.

Dawsons low EMR was one of the items noted when BP Cherry Point Refinery -- with its stringent safety requirements -- became a client in 2009. Last year Dawson completed BPs 98000 square feet maintenance shop building along with new sanitary sewer storm drain water electrical natural gas and oily water systems. Dawson and subcontractors together logged over 230000 man-hours without a first aid injury on this project. The project earned Dawson Construction the 2011 Distinguished Project Award (Large Contract) from the Northwest Construction Consumer Council.

This industrial job is only one type of project that Dawson undertakes. Its varied portfolio includes marine work such as the Wrangell Heritage Harbor multi-family housing (including the seven-building Sea Breeze Apartment complex in Sequim) and medical (Whidbey General Hospital expansion). These are just a few of the environments the company enjoys working in.

Our specialty is versatility says Pete. And we have the capability to self-perform multiple phases of work including select site work concrete work concrete tilt-up structural steel erection rough and finish carpentry and select finishes. These capabilities allow us to do what is in the best interest of the project whether that be to sub out certain phases or work or self-perform.

Since he took over the reins of the company in 2002 from his father Jack Pete has continued an evolution that has seen the company move from 100 percent use of design-bid-build delivery method to about 50 percent low-bid and 50 percent Best Value work. Were very customer service oriented and that instinct led us to pursue more negotiated work Pete says.

Pete grew up in the industry (both of his grandfathers worked on the Alaska Highway) and joined Dawson Construction in 1997 after earning a Construction Engineering degree at Montana State and working at Robert E. Bailey Construction for a few years.

He now spearheads Dawsons active involvement in AGC. We initially joined AGC for Retro but thats icing Pete says. I think AGC raises the bar for the industry with regard to safety and the ability to share and learn about industry trends and technology. It used to be that contractors had a lot of fences around their companies but working together is good for the industry and individual contractors.

Congratulations to AGC-member Dawson Construction for its million-hour milestone!

Photo: Pete Dawson and Brian Murphy.