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Uniting Industry Voices for a Safer Tomorrow

Safety Week isn’t just a date on the calendar here at Gray—it’s a testament to our unwavering commitment to safety.  


Ned Brown, director of safety, said, “Safety Week is a time for the industry to gather, share new ideas, and show our commitment to safety.”  


But beyond the confines of individual projects, Safety Week extends its reach to Gray subcontractors and trade partners, ensuring a unified approach toward safety across all levels. With this year’s theme of “Value Every Voice,” Gray empowers team members to speak up and voice safety concerns, promoting a culture of open dialogue and continuous improvement. 


We spoke to a few Gray safety professionals to get their perspective on Safety Week, what it means to them, and its impact on the company and the construction industry. 


Q: What does Safety Week mean to you?


Avila: Safety Week is a way we can make a positive impact on team members, by ensuring that they understand the policies and procedures—but it’s also a time to celebrate our safety successes.


Marker: Safety Week is a concentrated time to focus on crucial safety issues throughout the industry, such as identifying the proper safety gear and making sure we can identify and mitigate potential hazards.


Tidwell: Safety Week is a time to highlight our accomplishments, show gratitude for everyone’s commitment to safety, and promote the Gray culture.


White: This event highlights the significance of safety in the workplace and helps us promote the benefits of safety awareness. The objective this week is to educate our team and trade partners about safety protocols and procedures, promoting accountability.


Q: What is Gray planning for Safety Week 2024 to help promote a culture of safety? 


Avila: We will have daily safety stand downs and go through various safety activities and demonstrations to bring knowledge and awareness. We have many team members who are newer to construction, so it may be the first exposure that they’ve had to something like this. I’m certain it’s going to have a more positive impact on the overall safety culture. 


Marker: Fall protection will be a vital focus, because it accounts for many fatal incidents in construction. And really, the focal point is more about people than rules and regulations—the relationships and genuine concern for each other’s well-being is what will help us stay safe. 


Tidwell: We are planning to focus on mental health, which is significant. We want to provide resources and support for mental well-being, recognizing its importance in our industry. We also have various presentations and seminars planned, and we’re emphasizing the importance of embracing every voice and encouraging new ideas to foster a culture of safety.   


White: We will be focusing on discussion about the craft worker voice. No matter what position you hold, your thoughts and opinions matter. Contributions by all personnel are paramount, and we listen to and hear team members when they speak up. 

Q: How do you feel Safety Week contributes to raising awareness about safety practices among Gray team members?


Avila: You can see the positive impact that it’s had on the team. I think it raises overall safety awareness and is a source of inspiration to continue working safely. We not only use the time to educate, but we also celebrate our wins, which motivates our team members.    


Marker: We preach safety every day throughout the year, but really coming together and doing a deep dive on safety is vital. We discuss the pertinent issues and predominant factors that contribute to the most serious injuries in the industry and talk about how we can decrease those incidents. 


Tidwell: It’s just a great reminder to our teams about our commitment to safety. It helps us refocus and reflect on how we can be better. 


White: Safety Week provides detailed explanations of safety protocols, including standard operating procedures and safe work procedures. This education empowers our team to understand how safety intertwines with project activities, promoting operational safety. 


Q: In what ways do you think Safety Week helps foster collaboration and communication among different teams within Gray?    


Avila: By coming together and communicating to the larger team how our specific groups work safely, it opens up conversation and ideas on ways to enhance safety practices. Teams compare notes—they teach and learn from each other, which is awesome.   


Marker: When we bring the operational team and safety team together, it creates a strong partnership and spurs new ideas. Safety Week brings departments and teams together with the focal point being the quality of life of Gray team members. 


Tidwell: When you devote time to talk about safety and empower team members to voice their opinions and questions, it helps create conversations and collaboration. This can lead to new ideas being shared between teams that help enhance overall safety on the jobsite. 


White: Involving the team is not just about practicing what you preach, when we say: “Everyone is safety.” It’s about recognizing their crucial role in maintaining a safe workplace. They are the ones working hard, sometimes in dangerous conditions. You set a strong example of leadership by actively listening to their voices and respecting their viewpoints. 

Q: How do you feel Gray empowers team members to speak up and voice safety concerns?


Avila: Anyone has the authority to stop work within our group, if they feel something is unsafe. We encourage team members to exercise this in our daily briefs, supervisor meetings, and conversations with the folks out in the field. We are always open to feedback and discussions on how we can cultivate and enhance our safety culture. 


Marker: We talk about safety daily and make a point to emphasize that any team member has the power to stop work if they feel something is unsafe or are unsure about proper procedures. We always encourage team members to speak up if they see something that isn’t right.


Tidwell: We always encourage and empower our team members to speak up if they see something that could be a potential risk. Having the courage to do that can help avoid serious injuries from occurring. 


White: At Gray, every team member has stop authority without fear of reprisal. They can halt work if something doesn’t seem right and can ask questions to ensure a safe working environment. This empowerment fosters a proactive safety culture where everyone plays a role in identifying and addressing hazards.


Q: Which main pillar of Safety Week this year resonates most with you and why?   


Avila: Strengthening our culture, since we have a lot of new team members within the trades. I think establishing a good culture helps with safety, production, and morale. Building a strong safety culture is vital to what we do. 


Tidwell: Encouraging and welcoming new ideas is something I think is important. It’s closely tied to embracing every voice. It’s crucial for people to feel valued and empowered to speak up about safety concerns or new ideas that could enhance safety protocols.   


Marker: Driving personal ownership speaks to me, because the company can write the best safety plan and provide the best equipment, but it takes the individual to believe in and implement those safety plans and protocols.   


White: The concept of personal ownership resonates with me the most. Everyone on the job site should take ownership of safety by actively identifying hazards and addressing them. It’s about being each other’s keeper and ensuring a safe work environment for all.  


"Safety Week is a time to highlight our accomplishments, show gratitude for everyone's commitment to safety, and promote the Gray culture."
Dee Tidwell, Safety Specialist


Q: What is the definition of a successful Safety Week? 


Avila: I think we can measure its effectiveness by being data driven. We can use data and track whether our points of emphasis during Safety Week have resulted in fewer incidents, which will show us the level of impact our message had on the team. 


Marker: When we take the information, knowledge, and excitement and keep that momentum going. It’s about maintaining that same level of enthusiasm for safety throughout the year.   


Tidwell: When I get more people coming to talk to me about ideas they have or concerns they want to voice. It shows they were engaged and felt comfortable enough to share their feedback—and that is ultimately what helps us strengthen our safety culture. 


White: A successful Safety Week is when team members implement the knowledge and training they received, incorporating it into their daily practices. It’s about maintaining a positive safety attitude and sharing newfound insights with others.  

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