Establishing A Comprehensive Safety/Damage Prevention Culture

Damage Prevention And Safety
By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | January 2014, Vol. 69 No. 1
Jim O’Neil, president and CEO of Quanta Services, addresses the attendees of Quanta’s annual Risk and Safety Conference.

Developing and implementing an effective safety and damage prevention program for a construction company of any size is a critical and challenging task. However, the larger the organization, the more complex it is.

That said, consider the task of developing a safety program and implementing it with multiple companies scattered across North America and abroad that represent varied construction specialties.

That’s the job tasked to Wilson Yancey, vice president of health, safety and environment at Houston-based Quanta Services. Quanta is a S&P 500 company that is a leading provider of specialized contracting services for the electric power, natural gas and pipeline industries through more than 40 operating units.

“At Quanta, safety takes precedence over all business pursuits and practices,” said Yancey.

The success of Quanta’s approach to safety along with the development and implementation of the successful program are documented by an enviable safety record.

“Going back to 1999, Quanta was a young organization that had begun to expand with the acquisition of successful power and telecom contracting companies,” he explained. “At that time, I was given the responsibility for safety and that is my job today. We were a decentralized company then, as we are now, and we found some of our operating companies had safety programs, others did not. Some had people in ‘safety director’ positions that had no concept of what that meant. Many of the companies – even those that had safety programs on paper – placed no priority on safety.”


It took several years to develop the company’s vision of safety and a template that could apply to all Quanta companies, Yancey continued. Safety procedures were developed and safety personnel were hired to get operating companies moving in the right direction with safety processes.

“In 2004, we brought in a consulting group to evaluate our safety processes,” Yancey added. “In short, they found we had the processes, but not the necessary management philosophy.

“The turning point came when our chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer made the management commitment and took responsibility for safety. They, along with the company’s management team, have made safety a top priority and our most important value ever since. Today, every board and management meeting begins with a safety moment. Presidents of our operating companies actively direct safety processes. Quanta no longer acquires companies that do not have a strong commitment to safety.”

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