2010 CEOs Who 'Get It'

Thomas Zarges

President of Energy & Construction
URS Corp.

URS Corp. is one of the world’s largest engineering, construction and technical services firms. The Fortune 500 company provides services for power, infrastructure, industrial and commercial, and federal projects and programs worldwide. Headquartered in San Francisco, URS has approximately 45,000 employees in a network of offices in more than 30 countries.

How do you instill a sense of safety in your employees on an ongoing basis?

We regard safety as a fundamental job responsibility for all employees – not simply the responsibility of our dedicated safety professionals. A key to the success of our safety program is a focus on continuous learning and improvement. Beginning from the first day on the job, we provide our employees with the tools and resources they need to perform their work safely. To help keep our employees safe, we have developed a series of employee programs that promote safety, provide information on new practices, and recognize and reward excellence. We rely on experience, training and adherence to strict standards to ensure the safety of our employees, business partners and the communities we serve. We also have established safety committees across the organization to share best practices and ensure we are constantly improving and updating our processes and procedures.

Why is safety a core value at your company?

Safety is a critically important component of all our work at URS. It is essential to the welfare of our employees, the successful execution of our projects, the satisfaction of our clients and the overall success of our business. In other words, world-class safety performance is a central part of the value we deliver and is at the core of everything we do. URS is committed to the safety of our employees, clients and the general public in the communities where we work, and our safety achievements are an important source of pride for us.

The focus on safety starts at the highest levels of the company and flows through the entire organization. We recognize every employee has an obligation to prevent accidents and contribute to the continuous improvement of our safety programs.

Besides being the right thing to do for our employees and clients, we regard safety as a key indicator of our disciplined work practices. We set goals, have established programs to achieve them, measure effectiveness, motivate employees to achieve success and take corrective actions as needed. These are precisely the same elements that drive successful project execution. We believe outstanding safety and project execution are inseparable indicators of our success.

How important is off-the-job safety to your company’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety programs does your company offer?

URS takes off-the-job safety very seriously. Our employees are encouraged to share safety topics that impact their families, communities and recreational activities. The company provides training that is just as applicable off the job as it is to our worksites. For example, URS offers first aid and CPR training to employees at many locations on a regular basis. This training has proved extremely valuable on many occasions outside of the workplace. Recently one of our employees who had completed a company-sponsored first aid/CPR class witnessed a motorcycle accident the same weekend he completed the class. He was able to respond to the accident and use his training to assess the situation and provide assistance while waiting for professional emergency technicians to arrive at the scene.

URS regularly schedules health fairs in a variety of offices and project sites, and provides health-related news broadcasts through our intranet site. The company also has a large number of employees who travel internationally for certain assignments. These employees receive information on health warnings, support for medical conditions as needed and security tracking of their travel.

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