Last year, the U.S. experienced a craft labor shortage unlike anything before, leaving the construction industry diligently searching for 650,000 new workers to meet project demands. On top of that, there was a lack of skilled workers entering the field compared to the number of skilled workers retiring. These labor challenges will escalate with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, which has opened the door for major new projects within multiple construction sectors. With the lack of skilled workforce and increase in project funding and demand, the construction industry will need to bring in nearly 590,000 new workers in 2023 to meet industry demands and complete vital infrastructure projects.

Safety Best Practices

Safety is a core value on-site and in the office. And along with an expected increase in construction, projects will need to focus even more on safety. At Burns & McDonnell, there was a 24% reduction in recorded injuries with a 23% increase in field hours in 2022. This measurement abides by the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) that OSHA developed to gauge a company’s safety record. All told, this led to one of the best safety years in the company’s history. Our people went home safe at the end of the day and that’s what matters most.

Focusing on the organizational structure and alignment of a company as well as engagement and leadership while seeing that safe work practices, training, injury/illness care and case management are available lead to a much safer environment for the workforce. Elevating communication between different parts of the company from those working in the office to those working on-site leads to better execution of a project. These are things Burns & McDonnell has incorporated and have helped lead to such a successful and safe year in 2022.

The Cultural Safety Initiative for a Safe 2023

Recognizing that collaborative communication efforts have a direct impact on the success and safety of projects, shifting from a compliance- and procedure-driven program toward focusing on sustaining and improving our safety culture on-site and in our offices, will give space for continuous improvement and focus on more risk reduction.

In 2023, we’ll continue to work on nurturing a safety culture that is less reactive and more proactive, giving employee-owners room for a sense of ownership and self-expression to provide input and better safety initiatives. The focus with this new Cultural Safety Initiative is to develop a sustainable organizational plan to focus more on leadership and engagement and improve the safety culture and climate.

At the end of the day, what matters the most is people. The success or the failure of a project has to do with the people on the project. Delivering successful projects means having the right people — who follow the processes and procedures, and manage those processes — on the job. That’s why it’s vital to hire and retain dedicated workers. Additionally, there is space to create skilled industry leaders that are engaged, communicative, and open to improving the safety culture on a daily basis. This is the recipe for a successful and safe year, one that showcases people and the work they do to deliver quality, on-time projects.


Safety and health is one of our core values at Burns & McDonnell. With 2022 being the safest year in the history of our company, training initiatives are pivotal to create a safe and successful year.

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Jamie Butler has nearly 30 years of experience in the construction industry and serves as the vice president and director of corporate safety and health at Burns & McDonnell.