For Construction Safety Week 2023, we spoke with Millis' Safety Director, Chris Scott, who gave us some insight behind their success.
A family-owned construction company that's been in business since 1980, Millis Development & Construction specializes in building parks, recreation centers, and bridges, holding a specific focus on landscape architecture. With their offices in Missouri City, Texas – a suburb of Houston – they have not only made a lasting footprint in the Greater Houston area but also recently branched out into the Dallas, Texas area as well with a second office in Plano.
Earlier this year, in the category of companies with between 325,000–1,000,000 annual work hours in the “Specialty” division, Millis Development & Construction took home 1st place as they were widely acknowledged for demonstrating safety excellence. Since Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is a leading association and publication for construction professionals, having your company recognized via this prestigious award tends to echo throughout the industry.
Getting a Safety Program to the Field
Asked about receiving this award, Scott was quick to answer. “I believe that it started from management's commitment. Our owner Chad Millis has always been on board with safety. When he hired me, I had a vision. He gave me a budget and the spending power to be able to implement the safety program the way that I feel needs to be done.”
It’s important to note that Millis is a customer of HCSS as well.
“One of the biggest things that we recently purchased was the HCSS Safety software,” Scott states. “And I believe that's been a game changer for us in terms of getting our safety program out in the field, making our safety programs seamless, and then also giving our workers the tools that they need to make safe decisions on a daily basis.”
Considering the theme of this year’s is Strong Voices, Safe Choices, there are plenty of decisions that Millis has made which really stand out in the industry.
“The first thing I think about is our safety observations that we utilize from HCSS,” Scott continues. “We're able to put a QR code on every single jobsite to where every worker, any visitor, can send in an observation immediately, which gets sent to me. They can do it anonymously, to where every worker has a voice without any fear of any type of repercussion, and we like to be proactive versus reactive. So it really helps us in that aspect.”
From "Winging It" to Investing in Software
There are still hundreds, if not thousands, of construction companies throughout the U.S. that are not yet using any kind of safety software platform. Scott was open about the fact that Millis used to fall into that category and just sort of winged it as they went along.
“I did that for several years,” Scott shares, “and I struggled with being able to purchase the safety software. Now that we have it and it's in place, I wish I would have done it years ago. It really streamlines our safety process. The communication has never been better from the field to the office. I'm able to sit in my office and virtually see we have twenty-four active projects going on right now, and I can get a snapshot of each of our projects. What's going on, the hazards on the project, what the teams are doing to abate those hazards and then also monitor their safety inspections on a daily basis. So it's huge getting rid of the paperwork and using technology.”
Safety Commitment from the Ground Up
Now, Millis has proved to be one of the safest companies in all of heavy construction, which Scott credits to the commitment they’ve received from their management, as well as those with boots on the ground.
“When it boils down to it, it's really our workers that work in a safe manner on a daily basis who really are the leg work of what we do,” Scott says. “Without them working in a safe manner, following our safety program, we would not be where we are today.”
Holding a forward-thinking mindset, Millis is always working on their plan to help push the future of safety in the construction industry.
“We're constantly looking for ways to improve our safety program and improve our safety culture among our employees,” Scott says. “We want to remain vigilant. We want to remain proactive and essentially give our workers a voice and and listen to our workers and respond accordingly.”
Being a role model for the whole construction industry, Scott re-emphasizes the advice of giving every worker his or her own voice, regardless of what company you are: “Give them a platform to be heard. And really, for us, it's using technology that's going to help you get there. For us, that was HCSS Safety software.”
Being Proactive Instead of Reactive
Scott even offers a recent example of how HCSS Safety features are helping them out on the job day in and day out. For example, he and the rest of the team at Millis Development are busy toiling away on a current project in North Houston called Evergreen where they’re installing a bridge in a master-planned community. One of their superintendents just called Scott and asked what they should do to prepare for the crane to come in. Scott was able to instruct them on the HCSS app with different toolbox talks in a job hazard analysis (JHA) for the crane.
“It's just allowing them to be proactive before the crane even arrives on the site to know the safety measures that we need to take to keep our workers safe,” Scott says, “then also sign off and document our safety meetings to help keep us out of trouble.”
And by staying out of trouble, you get awarded 1st place in the 2023 Construction Safety Excellence Awards.
To learn more about Millis Development & Construction, be sure to check out their work at www.millis.com.