Chesapeake News

The Evolution of Safety in Construction

May 28, 2024 | By Chesapeake Contracting Group | 45th Anniversary

A 45-Year Journey with Chesapeake Contracting Group

As Chesapeake Contracting Group celebrates its 45th anniversary, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the remarkable evolution of safety in the construction industry since our inception in 1979. Over these decades, safety standards, cultural shifts, and technological advancements have significantly transformed how we approach safety in construction.

The journey towards enhanced safety began with the landmark Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which laid the foundation for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This act was pivotal in establishing the fundamental right to safe and healthful working conditions for all employees, marking a paradigm shift in how safety was perceived and regulated.

Pictured: Mason worker on an old Chesapeake jobsite missing hard hat, vest, and eye protection.

One of the most notable changes has been the shift in safety culture. Previously, safety programs were often reactive and improvised. However, with the evolution of safety standards and regulations, safety programs are now considered an integral and routine part of construction, aligning with OSHA's expectations. This change underscores a proactive approach to safety, where prevention and preparedness are paramount.

In the early days of Chesapeake Contracting Group, safety management was not as structured as it is today. At the company's inception, there wasn't a dedicated safety person, and safety protocols were often integrated into other roles within the organization. However, as the importance of safety grew in the construction industry and regulatory standards became more stringent, Chesapeake Contracting Group made significant strides in developing its Safety Department.

Today, our Safety Department is a robust team of four dedicated safety professionals. These experts collaborate closely with our subcontractors, owners, consultants, and our own team members to create a safe working environment on all our job sites. Their roles extend beyond mere compliance with regulations; they actively identify potential hazards, conduct thorough risk assessments, implement comprehensive safety training programs, and continuously monitor and improve safety protocols across all projects.

This growth in our Safety Department reflects Chesapeake Contracting Group's unwavering commitment to ensuring the well-being of everyone involved in our projects. By investing in a specialized safety team and fostering a culture of safety excellence, we uphold our promise to deliver not just quality construction but also peace of mind to our clients, partners, and employees.

There have been significant improvements in safety gear itself. The advancements in personal protective equipment (PPE) are particularly noteworthy. From helmets replacing traditional hardhats to improved hi-vis clothing and cut-resilient gloves, every aspect of safety gear has seen innovation. Fall protection systems, once bulky and cumbersome, are now lighter and more ergonomic, enhancing both safety and comfort for workers. Training programs have also expanded, ensuring that our teams are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate complex work environments safely.

Pictured: Associate of Chesapeake being honored during 2023 Safety Standdown for upholding safety protocols on jobsite.

Beyond physical safety, there's a growing recognition of mental health in the construction industry. More leaders are addressing mental health stigma and fostering healthy dialogues in the workplace. This holistic approach to safety encompasses both physical well-being and mental wellness, creating a supportive environment for all team members.

It's also worth noting the role of local initiatives like the Maryland Occupational Safety & Health (MOSH), which started its mission after Chesapeake Contracting Group was founded. MOSH's contributions to safety regulations and enforcement have furthered our collective commitment to creating safer work environments.

As we commemorate our 45th anniversary, we celebrate not just our achievements but also the industry's progress in prioritizing safety. Looking ahead, Chesapeake Contracting Group remains dedicated to embracing emerging technologies, fostering a strong safety culture, and continuously improving our safety standards. Together, we build a safer and brighter future for everyone in the construction industry.

Learn more about Chesapeake's safety here.

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