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May 21, 2021

Safety Professional Of The Year


Kirk Baisch


Kirk Baisch has established UMC’s safety program to inspire the overarching principle that motivates UMC’s crews to work safely and to look out for one another — pride. The firm’s “Pride-Based Safety” program is based on knowing you’re doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons, especially when no one is looking. Everyone is responsible for their safety and the safety of their co-workers; attitude is one of the essential elements of UMC’s safety program.

The company no longer has a “have-to” attitude, but instead has a pride-based safety program where employees work safely because they want to. UMC’s pride-based safety culture consists of simple, yet powerful, strategies that always keep safety top of mind.

Risk assessments are completed for each task. UMC emphasizes best-possible solutions, not just following the rules. At UMC, risk analysis looks at all of the consequences and identifies the safest alternatives, not simply the compliant solutions.

One of the cornerstones of UMC safety is personal empowerment. If each person is responsible for their own work and work area, then the entire job will be organized and efficient. The idea of “Own Your Zone” encourages each person to evaluate their work area and ensure that it is organized and ready for efficient work. When a jobsite is conceptualized as a grid of zones and each person takes responsibility for the activities in and condition of their own zone, then the whole jobsite becomes organized and coordinated.

“5 for 5” is a concept that encourages UMC crews to do hazard assessments. The company encourages that five seconds in every five minutes should be spent looking around and assessing the hazards with a continuous-improvement mindset to positively impact the work environment. By doing brief and frequent assessments, work continues efficiently, and hazards are anticipated before they become issues.

Baisch has been able to build a world-class thought-leadership safety culture that exemplifies safety excellence, not because safety is a priority (priorities constantly change in this industry), but because it is a trademark of who the UMC team is and what the company stands for. With Baisch’s leadership and vision, he has helped create astonishing results with a transformed safety program. Key milestones include six recordables in 2.9 million labor hours; three years recordable free (major projects group); 38% of reported incidents are personal/non-work related (great indicator of trust/open communication with all levels — keep small problems small), and over 1 million consecutive recordable free labor hours company wide. Finally, over the past three years, UMC’s average incident rate is .45 — less than half of a percent of its workforce is being affected by anything more than a first-aid incident.

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