Excellence in Safety Program

By Tiffani Madle, Process Improvement Intern
June 28, 2018

Excellence in Safety Program: A program for all CDOT employees


In March of 2013, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Office of Transportation (OTS) introduced the Excellence in Safety process. OTS has worked closely together over the last five years with each of CDOT’s five regions, including their leadership and regional safety officers, to improve CDOT’s safety culture through a variety of employee-focused initiatives. Using a behavioral-based approach, the process focuses on individual employee empowerment, positive reinforcement, customized employee-owned programs and proactive safety initiatives. The process complements CDOT’s overall mission, which is: “To save lives and make people’s lives better by providing freedom, connection and experience through safe multi-modal travel.”

Initially, the process was met with some resistance from employees because they simply did not understand the concept of moving away from a traditional, discipline-based program approach to a behavioral-based program, but with targeted training and positive reinforcement, their behaviors slowly changed. They began to recognize the value and rewards of being empowered and conscious of their own personal safety. One of the ways that employees apply consistent and sustainable safe work behaviors is through the Pre-Job Hazard Assessment, a real-time situation-specific analysis performed by the individual employee at his/her job site with the objectives of: identifying hazards; determining if they have the proper resources and capability to mitigate those hazards; and determine if they can perform the job safely, efficiently and effectively. According to Steve Gasowski, “Reduction of injuries and accidents is only one element of the process. Cultural change within the organization is also important..people’s attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and accountability are imperative to creating a sustainable work environment.”

Prior to the introduction of the process, CDOT sustained around 350 employee injuries per year, representing approximately 10-12% of the CDOT workforce. Today, CDOT is averaging less than 200 employee injuries per year, now representing approximately 6-7% of the CDOT workforce. Overall, this a 43% reduction in employee injuries since the program first launched. It’s important to note, that the process is not solely focused on engaging with CDOT’s Maintenance and Traffic sections, it's for all CDOT employees. For example, several initiatives have been implemented for CDOT’s Engineering and Administrative staff that include upgraded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that Engineers can use when they visit construction sites. In addition, Engineering and Administrative staff also have access to Ergonomic Workstation Assessments to address potential safety issues at their work stations.

According to Darrell Lingk, "the process has come a long way in the last five years and now we must focus on sustaining the momentum as we look toward the future.” Excellence in Safety not only increases safety for CDOT employees, but it also increases the safety of Colorado motorists by making available more human resources to respond to problems on our roadways, which is critical infrastructure for our state.

worker's compensation claims 2012 - 2017

The number of overall employee injuries that were reported each fiscal year.

lost time claims 2012 - 2017

The number of workdays that are lost due to injury as a result of the job. Injuries are more significant and result in an employee being away from work 3 or more days.

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