In December, I had the pleasure of serving for the fifth year as one of the judges for the TEXO (Dallas AGC/ABC Chapter) local competition for the AGC National Safety Excellence Awards.

It’s a great annual refresher for me to learn about the latest safety initiatives construction companies are using to help their people go home, undamaged, every day.

Each year, I’ve learned how the competition entrants manage their safety programs, both from the written information they provide, and from the live presentations they do for the judging

Contestants talk about how their company leadership fully supports the company's safety program. We all know that safe workplace attitudes have to start at the top.

Surprisingly, while the leaders say they support the program, they don't show up for the presentations. Even those who sign the entry paperwork sometimes don't make it to the local competition judging.

Companies spend a lot of time and money on their safety programs and on preparing for the contest. The actual presentations are for five minutes and the whole process, including Q&A, takes about 15 minutes.

When leaders don't show up for the presentations, usually the Safety Officer, a VP or someone with responsibilities in the company shows up instead. This year, one company sent their Business Development manager. He did a fine job describing the company's work, but he shouldn't have been put in a position where he was supposed to answer safety program questions. He did the very best he could.

The message to the leader (President, Board Chair, or other title) is, if you're going to have an effective safety program, YOU better make sure it's clear you are leading it.

If you also want your company to be competitive in the local, or particularly the national safety awards arena, it must be very clear that you're the one leading the safety program. 

For the companies whose leader didn't take time to personally present the safety program they promote, as was the case with some of this year's competitors, they didn't get my best program vote. 

Perhaps the ones who didn't show up will lay awake at night wondering if the project award they didn't get the day before might have been theirs if they had just won the safety award, like the chosen contractor did!