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Working Together to Focus on Safety

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In early August, I had the pleasure of meeting with leaders from AGC and some of my colleagues at the Texas Department of Transportation for the Executive Safety Seminar to focus on our most important goal.

Today’s TxDOT has a renewed focus on safety, for those who use our transportation system and for our employees and contractors who build it.

Last year, TxDOT began “Safety: Mission Zero” with the goal of zero fatalities, zero injuries, and zero accidents on the job. These are ambitious goals, but we set the bar high, striving for a perfect record.

The partnership between TxDOT and the AGC Safety Task Force is invaluable in helping us develop a culture of safety. Through collaboration, we all contribute to safety recommendations and solutions.

We have to ask each other, have we done enough? Have we made safety a personal priority as project managers? Have we done everything we can for the traveling public and the workers on the project in the work zones? TxDOT and the AGC Safety Task Force will be exploring answers to those questions.

To expand safety training for workers, TxDOT has produced a new safety video each year since 2008. One video—Highway Construction Work Zone Hazards—won two national awards. The videos are available in English and Spanish, and are used in new employee job orientations, safety meetings, and followup trainings.

TxDOT gives incentives to employees to encourage safe work practices.

The awards can be a one-time merit bonuses or paid leave. We have very stringent criteria for these awards, in order to reward the best of the best and inspire other employees to qualify.

Safety efforts are paying off. Among DOTs, TxDOT is leading the nation with all-time low rates for injuries, lost-time injuries, and lost production days.

However, despite our best efforts, this year will not end without tragedy. Sadly, we lost a member of the TxDOT family in July when Wayne Wagnon, an employee in the Plains Maintenance Office in Lubbock District, died as the result of a vehicle collision. Wayne’s death is a loss for us all, and a reminder of the tremendous importance of keeping safety first and foremost in our minds every day.

The Texas Transportation Commission recently approved between $230 million and $250 million for safety projects on our roadways. The 2013 Highway Safety Plan was also recently approved, which allocates $142.5 million to educate motorists about safe driving habits, encourage safety belt use, provide extra enforcement during holiday periods, improve motorcycle safety, and conduct programs for pedestrian and bicycle safety.

While fatalities on roads are going down, and TxDOT is among the safest DOTs in the country, we still have work to do. A special thanks to AGC and the Task Force for helping keep our workers— and yours—safe on the job.

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