Proactive Safety Practices Reduce Recordable Incidents in Construction Up to 85%

For Construction Safety Week, Associated Builders and Contractors released the 2021 Safety Performance Report, which details the substantial improvements proactive safety practices outlined in the ABC's STEP system have delivered.


Using proactive safety practices can reduce recordable incidents on construction jobsites by up to 85%, according to the findings of the 2021 Safety Performance Report, published by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) to coincide with Construction Safety Week, May 3-7. According to the ABC, the report is an annual assessment designed to further the construction industry’s understanding of how to achieve world-class safety by deploying its STEP Safety Management System.

The annual report details the impact of using the proactive safety practices outlined in the STEP system, citing the ability to reduce recordable incidents by up to 85%. This means the best-performing companies utilizing STEP are more than six times safer than the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics industry average.

“Leading from a posture of safety and committing to a culture of safety create the conditions for all in the construction industry to complete their work without incident and go home safe and healthy every day,” stated Greg Sizemore, ABC vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development, in a press release announcing the report’s publication. “ABC’s Safety Performance Report creates a roadmap through empirical evidence to keep workers safe on the job, regardless of the size of the company or type of work. Implementing best practices built on the foundations of leading indicators, substance abuse programs, new hire safety orientation, toolbox talks and top management engagement creates a culture that embraces world-class safety.”

The Safety Performance Report is based on data gathered from ABC member companies recording nearly 1 billion hours of work in construction, heavy construction, civil engineering and specialty trades. It outlines the following best practices to lower Total Recordable Incident Rates (TRIR) and Days Away and Restricted or Transferred (DART) rates:

Tracking and reviewing activities carried out to prevent and control injury, such as safety training, new hire safety orientation and behavior-based safety observations, leads to a 64% reduction in TRIR and DART rates.

  • Companies that conduct an in-depth indoctrination of new employees into the safety culture, systems and processes based on a documented orientation process experience 52% lower TRIR and 54% lower DART rates than companies that limit their orientations to basic safety and health compliance topics.
  • Substance abuse programs and policies with provisions for drug and alcohol testing where permitted lead to a 59% reduction in TRIR and a 61% reduction in DART rates.
  • Companies that conduct daily toolbox talks reduce TRIR by 76% and DART rates by 78% compared to companies that hold them monthly.
  • Employer involvement at the highest level of company management produces a 59% reduction in TRIR and DART.

Founded in 1989 as a safety benchmarking and improvement tool, STEP has evolved into a world-class safety management system that demonstrates safety leadership and cultural transformation to clients. Participating ABC member firms measure their safety processes and policies on key components through a detailed questionnaire with the goal of implementing or enhancing safety programs that reduce jobsite incidence.

The latest Safety Performance Report tracked 35 data points from companies that deployed STEP in 2020 to determine the correlation between leading indicator use and lagging indicator performance, which is measured by TRIR and DART incident rates, ABC notes. Each of the 35 data points was sorted using a statistically valid methodology developed by the BLS for its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Survey, and then combined to produce analyses of STEP company performance against BLS industry average incident rates.

The full report can be accessed at

Information provided by the Associated Builders and Contractors and edited by Becky Schultz.