Zero Accidents (Best Practice)

RT-032 Topic Summary
RT 032


RT-32 was formed to continue research into the area of worker safety. Specifically, it sought to show owners and contractors how to achieve zero accidents on construction projects, and to convince management of the value of an effective safety program by identifying techniques most successful in achieving zero accidents.

The overall conclusion of the research confirms that zero lost-workday injuries are achievable on large projects. In addition, it defined what a project that is “good in safety” means.

Key conclusions presented in the primary research products include: 

  • Zero injury is being achieved on projects under a variety of conditions and situations.
  • Joint owner and contractor management devotion to “Zero” is a key requisite.
  • An effective safety program producing good results must contain a broad base of essential techniques.
  • Attaining zero injuries is significantly more likely on projects that apply the five “High-Impact Zero Injury Techniques.”
  • Success in eliminating accidents is not guaranteed by use of the five High-Impact Zero Injury Techniques alone.
  • Quality of effort is strongly suggested by the “Time Spent” data as a vital ingredient in reaching zero injury.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : 5 High-Impact Zero Injury Safety Techniques

The research identifies five high-impact safety techniques that have the greatest influence on achieving zero injury safety performance and the most effective sub-elements associated with each. In decreasing order of importance, these are: (RS32-1, p. 3)

  • Safety Pre-Project/Pre-Task Planning
  • Safety Training/Orientation
  • Safety Incentives
  • Alcohol/Substance Abuse Program
  • Accident & Incident Investigation
Reference: (RS32-1)

2 : Important Common Techniques

All surveyed projects had implemented a common base of safety techniques. Of the 170 important safety techniques identified in the literature survey, the following was revealed: (RS32-1, p. 6)

  • No project used all 170 of the techniques
  • All projects used in some combination at least 114 of the 170 techniques
Reference: (RS32-1)

3 : Time Quantity versus Quality

Research data showed that quantity of time spent on selected safety techniques is not as important as the quality of time spent. Even more important, in an evolving safety program, the selection of the specific safety techniques on which to spend time becomes more crucial than the overall time spent. (RS32-1, p. 6)
Reference: (RS32-1)

4 : Implementation Tool #1

SP32-2, Zero Injury Economics

Provides techniques on how to achieve zero injury in construction and contains information on the practical economies of achieving and sustaining zero lost workday cases.  Includes:
  1. Cost of Injury Calculator and a list of steps to reduce EMR (p. 17) 
  2. Provides worksheets and data for owners and contractors to use to calculate the cost of injury (p. 6)
  3.  Specific procedures are provided on how to eliminate unnecessary expenses associated with workplace injury (p. 2)
Reference: (SP32-2)

5 : Implementation Tool #2

RS32-1, Information on Each of the Five High-Impact Zero Injury Safety Techniques and Implementation Strategies

Provides more detailed explanation of the five high-impact zero injury safety techniques along with guidance for implementation. RS32-1 Appendix B
Reference: (RS32-1)

6 : Implementation Tool #3

RS32-1, The 170 Safety Techniques and Sub-Techniques

Provides a comprehensive list of the surveyed safety techniques and sub-techniques. RS32-1 Appendix D
Reference: (RS32-1)

7 : Implementation Tool #4

SD-88, Construction Safety Self-Assessment Process

Provides a simplistic decision support model to improve safety performance. The self-assessment provides proven techniques of achieving the zero accident objective.
Reference: (SD-88)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved safety, Improved RIR

Research Publications

Zero Injury Economics - SP32-2

Publication Date: 09/1993 Type: Special Publication Pages: 27 Status: Tool

Zero Injury Techniques - RS32-1

Publication Date: 05/1993 Type: Research Summary Pages: 38 Status: Tool

Construction Safety Self-Assessment Process - SD-88

Publication Date: 03/1993 Type: Source Document Pages: 106 Status: Tool

Zero Accident Techniques - SD-86

Publication Date: 01/1993 Type: Source Document Pages: 292 Status: Reference

Supporting Resources

Education Materials

One Too Many - VA-006

Publication Date: 07/2005 Type: Video Pages: 0 Status: Supporting Product