Texas Contractor Wins Equipment World's 2024 Safety Award

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Equipment World 2024 Safety Winner Schier Construction Company Inc.
From left, Jordanne Waldschmidt, Equipment World chief editor; Brent Schier and Jim Schier, owners of Schier Construction; Don McLoud, Equipment World executive editor; and George Hart, Caterpillar North America product marketing manager.
Equipment World

Schier Construction Co. Inc. has been named the winner of the 2024 Safety Award, presented annually as part of Equipment World’s Contractor of the Year Award program.

Jim Schier started Schier Construction in 1980 as a general contractor for water plant construction in the Houston, Texas, area. Today, the $18 million to $20 million firm with 37 employees is run by Jim and his son Brent Schier. 

Along with being the Safety Award winner, Schier was among 12 finalists for the 2024 Contractor of the Year Award. The awards were presented March 21-22 at ceremonies at the Wynn Las Vegas resort. 

Presenting the Safety Award along with Equipment World Chief Editor Jordanne Waldschmidt was George Hart, Caterpillar North America product marketing manager. Caterpillar has sponsor the Contractor of the Year program for 24 years since its inception.

The Safety Award is presented to a Contractor of the Year finalist who exemplifies outstanding safety practices, has a low experience modification rate, and has no safety violations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Beyond that, the recipient must show demonstrated effort in creating a work culture that focuses on not only jobsite safety but all aspects of human health – mental, physical, and emotional.

Schier Construction had been lauded multiple times for its safety practices before being recognized by Equipment World.

For both Jim and Brent, safety was a significant part of their respective entrances into the construction industry, which has subsequently carried over into running the company. 

The employees know that keeping the experience modification rate low means keeping the overall bonus pot larger for themselves. “They know how that works and while we don't want anybody hurt, it's also the money side of it,” Jim says. “We're more concerned with everybody getting home safe every night though.”

“People jump on safety here,” Brent says. 

Due to the size of the company, there is no designated safety officer, rather, everyone chimes in and is expected to report if there is a near miss of injury, equipment, or other property damage. 

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As a founder, Jim leads the charge on the overall message of safety, but no crew member is shy about stopping work if they see something that could be unsafe on a jobsite. “I don't care if you're the bottom laborer on the crew, Jim or myself, you have the right to shut down the site if you don’t feel safe doing something,” Brent says. “We’re real big on just trying to get everybody to calm down or if it’s a safety issue, walk away and call us if no one else is going to do anything about it.”

Every week, both Jim and Brent lead a safety meeting on Monday morning, during which a volunteer will read through a prepared write-up from a subscription service on generic safety topics ranging from operation or equipment safety, use of PPE, and even mental health awareness.

Crew members are regularly quizzed on OSHA regulations, often those related specifically to trenching or just moving around equipment and staying within view.Crew members are regularly quizzed on OSHA regulations, often those related specifically to trenching or just moving around equipment and staying within view.Schier ConstructionIn addition, any incidents of work stoppages or near misses the previous week are called out or reviewed as a point of discussion to learn from.

Upon completion of the meeting, every employee is required to sign in that they were present for the session. For the remainder of the week, superintendents and crew leaders will review site-specific safety practices.

On days when work is rained out, employees get paid for the day and come in to go over safety or training videos or manuals at the office. 

In addition, Jim says, crew members are regularly quizzed on OSHA regulations, often those related specifically to trenching or just moving around equipment and staying within view. 

“It’s really about creating a culture where all these guys are responsible and they look out for each other,” Brent says.

The dedication to safety is driven in part by incentives. Schier Construction employees receive mid-year, end-of-year, and Christmas bonuses, 401k, 80% of healthcare paid, profit-sharing, vacation time, and guaranteed time off the week between Christmas and New Year's.

Annual reviews are done so employees have a base understanding of how their net and gross pay breaks down with all those benefits. Financial stability goes a long way to helping an employee’s mental health, which in turn makes them more able to be in their right mind on the job.

“We take care of our guys extremely well,” Brent says.

When making budget expenditure decisions, Brent and Jim always analyze whether new software or a new piece of equipment is worth cutting $500 or whatever the number is from employee bonuses that particular year.

They also keep a regular eye on their staff, stepping in to help when employees are battling alcoholism or drug addiction and even standing by someone who made a mistake and ended up in jail.

Helping employees out of a tight financial spot with interest-free loans is not unheard of. In one instance, an employee said they were not sleeping because of the 100-plus-degree heat that summer and not having air conditioning at their home. Taking into consideration the worker’s physical well-being, Jim and Brent stepped in and arranged for an air conditioner to be installed immediately while sorting out payment behind the scenes.

“Safety is something there is no perfection in,” our winner says. “You just strive to do the best you can, try to put everybody in a position where they feel empowered and feel listened to.”