“Part of the power of HCSS Safety is that it gives the visibility I need to ensure that our supervisors and others are doing all they can to maximize safety.”
Director—Environmental, Health, and Safety, HEI Civil
HEI Civil, founded in 1973, is an accomplished civil general contractor with the capacity to construct earthwork and utility related projects of almost any size.
HEI’s management draws on over 115 years of combined civil construction and project management experience, performing almost all its work in the capacity of a general contractor. For many projects, HEI Civil becomes involved as part of a project team in the concept and design stages, providing both value engineering and cost estimating services that invariably result in a superior finished product.
HEI Civil is licensed and prequalified in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and South
Carolina, working on a wide variety of projects, including subdivision development, commercial site development, parks, detention ponds, water treatment facilities, dams, roads and highways, golf courses, and airfields.
With some 90 supervisors in the field, and more than 1,000 employees spread across multiple divisions, and multiple states, safety has always been paramount at the company. The company sought a safety solution that could help unify its safety efforts. It wanted to replace its paper-based processes, as well as find a more efficient way to track its expansive training and certification program.
The company uses HCSS Safety, a comprehensive safety management system that eliminates paperwork, automates record keeping, including for certifications, provides a vast library of toolbox talks and other resources, and helps push safety management and accountability out to the field where it is most needed.
“One of our owners went to a convention and saw a demo of HCSS Safety and immediately knew it would be a great asset for our safety efforts,” says Kathy Freeman, Director – Environmental, Health, and Safety, at HEI Civil. “We knew it would be a natural fit because we’ve long been very happy users of other HCSS programs including HeavyBid, HeavyJob, and Equipment360.”
One of the many things the company liked about HCSS Safety is the seamless manner in which it works across all of the company’s divisions—and locations.
“We have multiple divisions,” Freeman says. “We have our traffic control division, our own utility division, our dirt division, and concrete structural bridge division. And we have field mechanics, shop mechanics, fuelers and oilers, 20 project managers, our 90 supervisors with crews out in the field, as well as our office personnel. So, from a safety standpoint, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.”
HCSS Safety works so well, that one of the first things HEI has done upon acquiring new operations in other states is to get the new employees up and running on HCSS Safety— along with the company’s other HCSS products.
HEI Civil uses HCSS Safety to accomplish a number of tasks, including:
- One Stop for Safety . . . and More. HEI Civil has replaced what used to be a heavily paper- based system with the one-stop solution of HCSS Safety. Additionally, Freeman notes the company is “thinking outside the box, using Safety as a repository for HR and other documents” related to safety.
- Paperless Delivery & Tracking. HEI Civil has said goodbye to 3-ring binders and other paper- based delivery mechanisms, as all training and other safety-related communications are deployed electronically using HCSS Safety. This also enables seamless tracking of when and to whom materials were delivered.
- Safety Meetings. HEI Civil makes use of the thousands of pre-packaged safety courses and videos, as well as using Safety to create and distribute their own content for safety meetings, toolbox talks, JHAs, and other needs.
- Safety Attendance Documentation. HEI Civil uses HCSS Safety to document attendance for all employees who attend safety meetings and trainings, creating a permanent record.
- Certification Training. HEI Civil uses HCSS Safety to deliver certificated trainings for more than 100 tasks—ranging from crane operation, to excavation safety, to front office tasks, such as how to use different applications.
- Certification Tracking. All certificate trainings— including successful completion—are tracked by HCSS Safety, which is also used to flag expiring certifications.
- QR Codes for Instant Verification. HEI Civil uses QR code stickers affixed to hard hats to provide instant verification of, and access to, all certificated and other trainings for each employee. One scan tells the story.
- QR Codes for Instant Access. HEI Civil also uses QR codes to provide instant access to essential documentation—from standards of procedures, to equipment specs, to first aid and emergency facilities information.
- Incident Reporting. HCSS makes it fast and efficient for incident reporting—including automated notification of Safety, HR, Management, and other staff according to severity. Freeman notes: “This has done away with time-consuming phone calls, phone-trees, and confusion about who to contact when.
- Near Misses. HEI Civil uses HCSS Safety to report what it terms “Safety Shares,” making it easy for employees in the field to photograph and describe potentially dangerous situations to help protect others.
- Site Inspections. HEI Civil uses HCSS Safety to provide specific templates for each type of site inspection.
- Deploying Custom Forms. HEI Civil uses HCSS Forms to create its own custom electronic documents which can be accessed through HCSS Safety. So far, the company has created more than 30 forms to enhance its operations.
- Integrating with HCSS HeavyJob. HCSS Safety integrates seamlessly with HCSS HeavyJob, which HEI Civil takes advantage of in pre-populating construction teams with certifications, training, and other documentation.
- Integrating with Equipment360. Safety reports involving equipment are seamlessly passed from HCSS Safety to HEI Civil’s HCSS Equipment360 application.
HEI Civil has found a number of benefits since deploying HCSS Safety, including improved safety communications, the ability to easily share safety resources with the field, and integration with QR codes for instant validation for training and certificates. The company is also saving thousands of dollars in printing costs by going electronic, providing instant documentation for OSHA inspections, and enjoying the product’s ease of use.
Improved Safety Communications
HEI Civil uses HCSS Safety to greatly improve safety and related communications across its operations.
“I use HCSS Safety to push out safety information into the field, and to pull information back from the field,” Freeman says. “This has greatly improved communication with the field. I no longer have to call multiple people to get information to them or from them. I can just send a report, and coordinate the timing so it automatically pops up on their calendar for the day. And then I get verification that they have acted upon it.”
HCSS Safety improves communication with others as well.
“When you’re running 20 project managers and 90 supervisors in the field, it can be hard for everyone to stay current,” Freeman says. Project managers might not hear right away about equipment damage or injuries—even if just the need for first- aid. This means a project manager might get a cost for negligent damage six months later, and wonder ‘Where did this come from?’”
With HCSS Safety, communication is instantaneous.
“Now as soon as a supervisor in the field fills out an equipment damage report in HCSS Safety, it goes immediately to the project manager,” Freeman says. “The same thing happens instantly if there is an injury or other incident.”
Project managers like this because it allows them to work from a more proactive position.
“With this instant communication from the field, the project manager can take a closer look. Does he need JHAs? Toolbox talks? He can look not only at safety concerns, but at the financial impact on a project from the standpoint of equipment damage or time lost. HCSS Safety has definitely improved the communication between the field and the office.”
Extending Accountability to the Field
HEI Civil has a strong commitment to safety, and believes safety is everyone’s job. HCSS Safety helps Freeman put this into action by giving supervisors the tools—and visibility— they need to more closely manage safety from the field.
“Scanning the QR code shows all of a person’s trainings, certifications, authorizations and a whole lot more.”
Director—Environmental, Health, and Safety, HEI Civil
“HCSS Safety allows us to give our project managers and supervisors everything they need to continually keep their people safe,” Freeman says. “We want safety implemented in the field by the field because they know the changing conditions better than we can. Part of the power of HCSS Safety is that it gives me the visibility I need to ensure that our supervisors and others are doing all they can to maximize safety.”
This means Freeman can see every time a JHA or toolbox talk is held, and can see whenever any exceptions occur, and ensure reports are completed or that safety-related equipment repairs have been made. In addition to overview information, HCSS Safety makes it easy to dive into details whenever needed.
“We move our operators and other key employees around from job to job depending upon where their skills are needed,” Freeman says. “If I see that an operator has an incident, I can check to see if there have been others, and what actions were taken. This allows me to communicate with his supervisor if needed. Maybe additional training or other action is needed.”
She says that the same type of information helps identify supervisors, or project managers, who encounter more incidents than others. Again, this allows for early intervention to keep everyone safe in the field.
“We have teams in the field across multiple states,” Freeman says. “With HCSS Safety I can immediately see what is happening in regards to training and safety no matter where they are working.”
Using QR Codes to Provide Instant Validation for Training & Certificates
HEI Civil uses HCSS Safety to deliver training materials for—and track completion of—more than 100 different skills. Because HCSS Safety supports use of QR codes, supervisors in the field and others with a need to know can instantly tap into all of this data for each employee by just scanning the QR code worn on HEI Civil hard hats.
“Scanning the QR code shows all of a person’s trainings, certifications, authorizations and a whole lot more,” Freeman says. “We also store our CDL paperwork on HCSS Safety, flagger certifications, training records for defensive driving, silica awareness, dirt testing, rigging awareness, overhead utilities training, paving machine operations, even how to setup a VPN for your phone or iPad. And with one scan of the QR code all of that information is immediately available.”
The QR code access into the comprehensive record keeping of HCSS Safety has also proven popular when working with other contractors or with governmental agencies.
“We are on some major projects in the city of Austin, for which they require a lot of documentation—more so than what we would normally see,” Freeman says. “For those projects, they can just scan the QR code and it’s done. We don’t have to send reports. They can just scan the QR code and they know, okay, this employee has this information. It’s done. He can go on the project. That has been nice.”
QR code integration with HCSS Safety works so well that Freeman is already planning on new ways to use it. Freeman notes: “I’m currently updating our emergency action plan, and when it’s completed, I’m planning on linking it to a QR code so someone can scan for immediate access.”
“Saving Thousands of Dollars” No Longer Printing Safety Manuals
HCSS Safety is saving HEI Civil the cost and hassle of printing out safety books, procedures, binders filled with maintenance records, reports, forms, and other documents. Even better than the cost savings is the fact that all of this information is immediately available on the iPads used in the field and computers used back at the office. No more looking for paper-based documents under seats or in boxes, and wondering if they are up to date.
“We are saving thousands of dollars from just not having to print out hundreds of books to hand out,” Freeman says. “And no one has to go looking for the books when needed. Everything is in the iPad they have in their hands, and any of it can be just a QR code scan away.”
HCSS Safety also eliminates a lot of trips to the field to deliver training materials.
“I have a friend who handles safety for another construction company who called me up to ask how I was delivering all of the new COVID 19 material out to the field,” Freeman says. “I told him that I was using HCSS Safety to just push it out through the iPads and using the app to schedule supervisors to do COVID meetings. He said: ‘You’re so lucky. I’m driving around from site to site handing out packets and meeting with all of them. I’m already a week behind.’”
While some of Freeman’s colleagues at different companies are using some form of electronic delivery, they lack the comprehensive completeness of HCSS Safety.
“Some of my colleagues have to juggle between three or four different applications to do what I can do working just from HCSS Safety,” Freeman says. “And HCSS Safety is so flexible that it allows you to think outside the box. For example, at the request of our supervisors, we’ve added a lot of HR forms that they used to have to request to be sent to them. We are taking advantage of this flexibility to put anything needed to expedite work and safety right in the palms of their hands.”
Easier OSHA Job Site Visits
HCSS Safety has made it easier for HEI Civil to respond to queries during OSHA job site visits. The company has always had a strong commitment to safety, but when it used to track trainings and certifications on spreadsheets, it took longer to respond to documentation requests.
“Now when we have an OSHA visit, we can immediately show that the person working on excavation, or operating a specific piece of equipment, has been trained and certified to do so,” Freeman says. “We can show training documentation, including participant signatures, for everything we’ve done with safety, and we can do so immediately. This has definitely helped with OSHA visits.”
Ease of Use
Freeman praises HCSS for the ease of use they’ve built into Safety. She notes that even the best field supervisors might not consider themselves computer savvy, so the intuitive design of HCSS Safety has helped with its enthusiastic reception in the field.
“We have two new supervisors that I’m preparing to train on safety,” Freeman says. “I just noticed that they were already using HCSS Safety. It is easy to learn how to use the application because it is so well designed. The training I do is all about our internal procedures and practices that we’ve developed to keep our people safe.”
Demoing the Product to Competitors
Safety is so important to the construction industry that Freeman frequently suggests HCSS Safety to colleagues at other companies. Sometimes she will even do a demo.
“One of our competitors was considering HCSS and called me up because they wanted to see someone using it,” Freeman says. “I invited them over to my office. I showed them how I use HCSS Safety and I had our shop manager come in to show how he uses Equipment360, and how well the two products work together. They must have liked what they saw because they decided to make the HCSS purchase.”