At ESS, we pride ourselves on a “people-first” culture. We invest in our employee-owners and are dedicated to providing the very best work environment for them. This starts with safety. One of our company mantras is “Safety, quality, production – in that order.” This is not a hollow promise. Keeping people safe is something we take very seriously. Our work may be fast and furious, but we don’t sacrifice safety for production.
This is especially true for our underground utility operations. With deep trenches and steep slopes required for this type of work, installing underground utilities is inherently high-risk. To reinforce safety best practices, our safety team visited our underground utility job sites throughout June for Trench Safety Month. In partnership with National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA), ESS was proud to participate in the 2021 Trench Safety Stand Down.
During Trench Safety Stand Downs, our crews pause production and take a moment to discuss utility-related safety measures. Our safety team, field supervisors and company leaders speak directly with our crews about the importance of trench safety and protective systems. Employee-owners have spirited conversations about measures they are taking to keep each other safe from potential hazards.
We asked Jordan Morris, Utilities Superintendent, about ESS’ commitment to trench safety. He shared that, “We’re digging ditches and in the ground every day, so maintaining our level of safety standards becomes second nature. We preach that while everyone needs to watch out for their own safety, they also should watch out for the employee-owners next to them as well. At the end of the day I want everyone to go home safe, so we do whatever it takes to make that happen.”
According to the Workforce report by Equipment World published in 2021, collapsing trenches result in almost two fatalities per month nationally. Those numbers are staggering, and no contractor wants to be a part of those statistics. Across the ESS family of brands, our utility crews installed 649,900 linear feet of pipe in 2020. That’s a big number, and our volume of underground utility work continues to increase each year – as does our focus on trench safety.
What measures does ESS take to prevent trench-related safety incidents? While it’s valuable to participate in national Safety Stand Downs, we understand a company’s safety culture is really built year round, day-in and day-out in the field. Our field supervisors are committed to weekly Toolbox Talks, daily checklists and continuous education. ESS employee-owners in underground utility operations also receive excavation and confined space competent person training. This helps ensure our team members really know their stuff before stepping onto a project site.
“We want our employee-owners to be safe. Utility work can be very dangerous and we provide as much training and education as we possibly can. Things can go wrong quickly in the field, so making trench excavation a priority is extremely important. Our foremen and field supervisors are the true driving force behind the importance of safety for our guys. They know and understand the severity of it. At the end of the day, we want our employee-owners to go home the same way they came to work,” said Will Schauwecker, safety coordinator.
Shout out to every team member who participated in our 2021 Trench Safety Stand Down events. Thank you for your continued commitment to safe work!