ENR Mountain States magazine previously announced its 2017 Best Projects award winners (see my editor’s blog on this website). Now, after tabulating final results and polling our judges, we are ready to reveal the winners of this year’s Best Projects Excellence in Safety Awards.

This year’s safety competition was one of the most competitive so far. Our safety judges noted that many firms have improved not only their safety records but also their approaches to safety and their safety cultures through comprehensive, job-specific programs with well-documented plans and good follow-up. Here are this year’s safety winners, by region:


  • First Place Winner: University of Wyoming High Bay Research Facility, Laramie, Wyo. Entry submitted by Hasleden Construction. The U of Wyoming’s High Bay Research Facility, which also won the Colorado/Wyoming award for Best Higher Education/ Research project, is a flexibly-configured geo-petroleum engineering research laboratory built to host large-scale experiments. Other parts of the facility are designed to house smaller laboratories, offices and conference rooms. Safety components included installation of a permanent roof tie-off system that remained in place after construction to help with building maintenance of air handler systems. The team rewarded workers for awareness and corrective action to work more safely and asked subcontractors to commit to the OSHA SHARP program. The job had a perfect site safety record.


  • Merit Award: Sanford Medical Center, Fargo, N.D. Entry submitted by Mortenson. The 1 million-sq-ft campus also earned first-place honors in the Health Care category. The 11-story, 384-bed medical center incorporates LEED standards throughout its four hospital towers and brings level one trauma services to the entire region. Under Mortenson’s Zero Injury Program, crews are encouraged to report and discuss any safety issue with jobsite leaders, despite its potential impact on schedule or productivity. The safety program for the site included close attention to the value of ergonomics and the inclusion and training of a wide variety of subcontractors.

Intermountain Area (Utah, Montana, Idaho)

  • First Place Winner: City Center Plaza, Boise. Entry submitted by Engineered Structures Inc. (ESI). The 380,000-sq-ft City Center Plaza development includes a 10-story commercial and retail building with an adjoining five-story convention center. Safety elements included ESI’s thorough communication of its disruption avoidance plans, site logistic plans and an emergency response plan that was carefully updated as the site changed through the various construction phases. The contractor also established coordinated access points for emergency responders.


  • Merit Award (tie): Beverly Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, Cedar City, Utah. Entry submitted by Big-D Construction. Located on the Southern Utah University campus, the arts center includes nearly 5.5 acres of site development and two new buildings—the Southern Utah Museum of Art and the Utah Shakespeare Festival Facility. The project also earned a first-place award in the Cultural/Worship category. Big-D’s TH!NK Safety program includes pre-task planning by every crew on site for each unique activity, every day. Every worker attended a site-specific orientation discussing the TH!NK process and safety risks.


  • Merit Award (tie): Inn at 500, Boise. Entry submitted by ESI. The Inn at 500 is an 89,000-sq-ft, six-story boutique hotel that creates a landmark gateway into downtown Boise. The project also earned a merit award in the Residential/Hospitality category. ESI overcame several safety challenges, including difficult site issues created by working in downtown Boise near power lines. The safety judges praised ESI’s specific quality-control measures, phasing plans, value engineering, estimating, labor scheduling and cost monitoring, all of which were skillfully managed under its safety umbrella.

Hope to see you in Salt Lake City or Denver for the awards ceremonies. Congratulations to the winners.