Fortis and the Safety Climate Lab collaborate to assess safety climate internationally

Fortis Construction, Inc. and Dr. Emily (Yueng-hsiang) Huang’s Safety Climate Lab recently concluded their second collaborative safety climate assessment. This extensive project was completed in less than a year! In it a customized safety climate survey was translated into four different languages and implemented with over 2,000 employees at three different job sites across the US and abroad. Fortis believes that construction incidents are not inevitable and they design every project as an Injury-Free Environment (IFE). They tackle this goal by investing in safety innovation, such as seeking out high quality, empirically developed, and data-driven safety climate assessments conducted by Dr. Huang.

Collaborations between Fortis and Dr. Huang started in 2019 when data was collected from all Fortis employees. The findings were then presented in three feedback workshops to top management and employees. Fortis goes out of their way to prioritize the safety, health, and well-being of their employees and their efforts are noticed and appreciated by their workforce. Fortis’ first safety climate scores broke the record for highest safety climate scores collected across industries, according to Dr. Huang’s benchmark data set.

Fortis values safety as their highest priority. They stop accidents before they happen by taking preventative and proactive actions. Fortis sees the value of recurring safety climate assessments and they sought the opportunity to work with Dr. Huang for a second time on a larger scale. A customized safety climate survey was administered during the summer of 2021 to three jobsites including over 140 subcontracted construction companies located in two countries. Conducting a safety climate assessment with such a broad scope presented some challenges, but the execution succeeded without a hitch. Extra efforts were put forth to support the diverse base of employees and ensure equitable and inclusive administration, data analyses, and reporting practices were followed. “It is absolutely imperative that the survey is accessible to all employees present at the job site to encourage accuracy of data collection,” said Dr. Huang. The total number of survey participants was astounding at just over 2,000 employees, and the survey was translated into Bengali, Tamil, Chinese, and Spanish. Results of the evaluation were presented in a total of seven feedback workshops. Four of these workshops were provided upon request by subcontractors wanting a deeper dive into their current safety climate and a closer look at possible opportunities to achieve their safety goals. Results were impressive – once again, Fortis achieved the highest safety climate score on record, improving upon their original record-breaking safety climate score!

Demetra Star, the Safety Team Leader, headed project efforts on behalf of Fortis Construction, Inc.
“The Safety Climate Lab provides a snapshot in time from the worker’s perspective,” said Star. “I can’t think of a better way to provide meaningful feedback to a safety program in the works. The survey is anonymous and the report from OHSU Safety Climate Lab is comprehensive. It was refreshing to hear from the objective observers at OHSU just how healthy our safety climate is and it was inspiring to hear the actions and plans that the study generated at Fortis Construction. I’d recommend that any company, no matter what size and no matter what level of safety maturity, measure their safety climate with the OHSU team.  They are the experts and they draw from a wealth of data that most of us don’t have access to. It will help your company. Be brave …listen to the findings, and take action.”

Dr. Huang is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate on such an extensive and internationally impactful project. She feels that this large-scale assessment would not have been possible without skilled project management, strong subcontractor relationships, and the ability to navigate all logistics across the cultural landscape of the project. “It was an honor and a privilege to witness the impressive efforts demonstrated by the Fortis team. They truly value and prioritize the safety, health, and well-being of their workforce. I’d like to especially thank Demetra Star for her devotion to safety, genuine consideration for the community, and professionalism.”

Both Fortis Construction, Inc. and the Safety Climate Lab are proud of the success and execution of this safety climate evaluation during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic. It was truly a group effort to accomplish this feat, and demonstrate how to hold safety as the highest priority.

Blog post by Elisa Rega, Anna Kelly, and Dr. Emily (Yueng-hsiang) Huang from the Safety Climate Lab.

Read other blog posts from the Institute’s Safety Climate Team: