What Are Your Company’s Core Safety Principles?

Establishing golden rules keeps the focus on making the highest-risk activities safer.

Does your company have a set of rules for employees that may not be broken?

Establishing core safety principles for your company — golden rules and procedures every employee must follow, no exceptions — can decrease accidents and injuries by keeping workers focused on the most important safety measures related to their work.

To develop effective core safety principles, think about the potentially risky activities your crews engage in each day. MasTec – Utility Services, a Florida-based infrastructure engineering and construction company, has established core safety principles related to insulating gloves and sleeves, fall protection, trench and excavation safety, confined space entry, grounding and underground damage prevention.

“We came up with those categories and the corresponding core principles in those categories because we know that these are the things that could really get us and our employees in trouble, whether that be severe injuries, fatalities or issues with OSHA,” said Jarrett Quoyle, senior director of safety and health.

He described these core safety principles as cardinal rules — “things we will not stand for or do.” Of course, they aren’t the company’s only safety rules. “The core safety principles supplement our already-established rules and procedures,” Quoyle explained.

“One thing we will not tolerate in trenching work, for example, is working without cave-in protection,” he said. Another violation would be crews working in an excavation without proper means of access or egress.

MasTec – Utility Services never compromises on these core safety principles, and there are consequences when they aren’t followed, he added.

“If a crew is working without those protections, there’s a process in place to investigate and to determine corrective actions and/or disciplinary actions that may be warranted,” said Quoyle.

All violations of the core safety principles are entered into the company’s HSE tracking system. “That triggers the right people to get involved and alerts them that we need to look into it, investigate what happened, where the breakdowns were and how we get better. Most importantly, it allows us to track our corrective actions and close the loop with those,” Quoyle added.

Managers get a weekly report on any core safety principle violations – what type they were, what happened and what’s being done about it.

Research shows that accountability at all levels and demonstrated management commitment to safety are among the most important features of a strong safety culture. Developing a list of core safety principles, reminding employees about those principles daily and correcting or disciplining any violators is an excellent way to incorporate both.

No one needs to get hurt crossing the street - or doing their job.


Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.