Photo 155553776 © Somporn Suebhait |
667b298d01b5bc0618e2a602 Dreamstime L 155553776

A Blueprint for Cutting Construction Fatalities

June 25, 2024
GC snags AGC award for serious-hazard mitigation focus.

An approach to construction workplace safety that minces few words and leaves no stone unturned in a quest to halt job-site fatalities and calamitous injuries has been honored with a prestigious industry innovation award.

Sundt Construction, a Tempe, Ariz.-based general and licensed electrical contractor in multiple states, won the Associated General Contractors’ annual AGC/Autodesk Innovation Award grand prize for its Stop The STCKY program, which institutes a set of intensive controls for staying keenly focused on “S#*!  (or, more politely, Stuff) That Can Kill You” on the job. 

STCKY (pronounced “sticky”) refers to a set of stubborn, commonplace jobsite hazards that have the capacity to kill or severely injure if not recognized and controlled for. Characterized as “high-energy” in nature where release can quickly kill or maim, the so-called “Fatal 8” Sundt targets spans “stuff” that lifts, stores energy, and moves/crushes, and is energized, hazardous (by nature), built at heights, built underground, and built in confined spaces (see Figure). 

With Stop The STCKY, Sundt strives to orient sustained attention to those hazards and to reduce the chance they’ll ever be triggered. Their unique menace, and the no-nonsense, unfiltered way front-line workers sometimes talk gave birth to the “S#*!” part of the acronym. It’s an intentional way of talking about safety in a clear and direct way that gets worker attention, Paul Levin, Sundt vice president/director of health, safety and environment, said in a 2023 podcast describing the program’s genesis.

“Adding curse words makes it more important or serious for some reason when you start thinking about it, so saying this stuff right here is the S#*! that can kill you, it’s like ‘Okay, everything is dangerous on a construction job, but this right here can get you really hurt today,’” Levin said. 

Sundt decided to focus on STCKY partly because data show the construction industry has made little progress in reducing worker fatalities and serious injuries. For example, recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show fatalities of construction and extraction industry workers rose 11% in 2022, reaching 1,056, second only to transportation and material-moving workers. And its own data were indicating that while progress was being made on reducing OSHA recordable injuries for Sundt workers, observable safety “incidents” were not ticking down, Levin related in another 2023 podcast. That suggested, he says, that the underlying safety climate at the firm was not as robust as it needed to be and that the company might be tempting fate — the deaths or serious injuries of workers that might have been prevented with more diligence on identifying and addressing working conditions and practices.

Stop The STCKY was the company’s response, one that another company, electrical contractor Quanta Services, Inc., Houston, has adapted to its own operations. Employing a comprehensive set of tools to identify, record, and classify incidents and routinely and continually assess job-site conditions, Sundt is empowering employees to create a work environment that keeps workers as insulated from hazards as possible, particularly the Fatal 8 that carry the greatest consequences. A Sundt website program description says hazard mitigation through “identification, implementation, and execution of direct controls and safeguards” is the goal.

“Stop the STCKY innovates traditional rules-based compliance programs by leveraging the principles of energy-based safety and human performance,” Levin is quoted as saying. “We believe Stop the STCKY can disrupt the plateau and redefine safety in our industry.”     

About the Author

Tom Zind | Freelance Writer

Zind is a freelance writer based in Lee’s Summit, Mo. He can be reached at [email protected].

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EC&M, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations