Recognizing Excellence in Safety: Meet our 2024 S.L.A.M. Safety Award Winners

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6/27/2024 6:13:45 PM

June is National Safety Month, the annual observance to promote workplace safety. At Michael Baker International, safety is at the forefront of everything that we do. From the design table to the project site, success is measured by our people and safety culture. We utilize our S.L.A.M. safety tool and process to strengthen our safety culture, promote safety awareness, recognize hazards and assess and manage risk. This includes:

STOP and consider risk in surroundings and the environment

LOOK for hazards with harm potential

ASSESS the risk

MANAGE the risk

​Each year, we recognize Michael Baker project teams that demonstrate a commitment to safety with the S.L.A.M. Safety Award. Each winning team has improved safety processes, contributed to our company’s safety culture and achieved outstanding safety performance over a significant period of time.

As National Safety Month ends, we are excited to announce this year’s S.L.A.M. Safety Award winners: the Interstate 78 Reconstruction CM/CI and ConocoPhillips Spring Breakup Teams.

Learn more about each of the projects below!


S.L.A.M. Construction Services Winner: Interstate 78 Reconstruction CM/CI


Interstate 78 (I-78) spans 144 miles across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, linking Harrisburg to Lower Manhattan. The I-78 Reconstruction project aimed to reduce the high crash and fatality rates in an 8-mile stretch that had 71% more crashes than other Pennsylvania expressways and a fatality rate 40% higher than elsewhere in the state. Traffic studies estimated 45,000 vehicles traveled through the project daily, with tractor-trailers making up 40% of the traffic. The winding, hilly contours made it difficult for truck drivers to see traffic ahead of them, and the lack of shoulders left no room to pull over in an emergency. This reconstruction and safety improvement project was designed to widen the shoulders along the corridor and add dedicated climbing lanes for trucks.

Michael Baker and our subconsultants provided construction inspection and management services from preconstruction through project completion and forensic analysis of the long-life concrete pavement. Two full-time on-site Michael Baker construction managers and up to six construction inspectors were co-located with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) personnel in a mobile field office.

The project took almost five years to complete and encompassed 54 lane miles of long-life concrete pavement, one million cubic yards of excavation, six bridges, 10 stormwater basins, three sound walls, two dynamic message signs, 10 property demolitions, 20 well abandonments, two underground storage tank removals, over eight miles of guide rail, over 10 miles of drainage pipe and concrete barrier, two stream relocations, and two Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil slopes.

The project’s greatest risk was live interstate traffic, which often traveled at speeds exceeding the posted speed limits and contained a significant percentage of tractor trailer traffic. The project team assessed construction activities and how the inspectors and contractors could minimize the risks by ensuring adherence to proper safety practices and protocols, including: holding weekly safety briefings to reinforce relevant safety practices; providing staff with hard hats equipped with retroreflective stickers for higher visibility; and making upgrades to flashing yellow lights on vehicles to alert travelers when the inspection team was entering and exiting traffic lanes and construction work zones.

To complete the project in phases, traffic control had to be adjusted at various stages. As planned, these “traffic switches” would have required 25 working nights of unique temporary traffic patterns with orange barrels being the only means of protection between live lanes of traffic and the field staff. The team decided that a single weekend with 24/7 lane restriction would be more efficient and accomplish the task in a safer manner. The weekend lane restriction allowed the switch to be completed in 2½-days compared to the planned 25 nights, thereby significantly reducing the risk of accidents to our crews and the motoring public, as well as the exposure of daily traffic to temporary barrier blunt end.

An additional challenge was the Governor's unexpected COVID-19 shutdown of all PennDOT projects across the state in March 2020. This project was critical enough to restart 30 days later under strict safety protocols dictated by the Centers for Disease Control, PA Health Department, Berks County and Michael Baker's Health & Safety Department.

Of the project, a PennDOT representative noted: “Michael Baker’s team worked to find solutions to safety concerns and field issues every day of this five-year project. The numbers of hours posted by this team without incident is a great testament to the practice of Safety First.”


S.L.A.M. Field Services Winner: ConocoPhillips Spring Breakup Team

Michael Baker has conducted hydrologic studies at the Colville River Delta since 1998 for ConocoPhillips Alaska’s North Slope Alpine Development. The field program begins in mid-April and typically lasts six to eight weeks. The project sites are not easily accessible and program set-up is conducted in sub-zero conditions. The field crews traverse ice, snow and uneven tundra and are exposed to possible wildlife encounters including brown bears and polar bears.

During spring “breakup” – when snow melts from the Brooks Range and facilitates the downstream movement of meltwater and ice as it flows north into the Beaufort Sea – the Michael Baker Hydrology team executes an extensive field program to determine peak discharge, peak water levels, flow distribution and observations at several key locations in the delta.

The annual monitoring program supports ConocoPhillips’ permit stipulations, permitting and NEPA documentation, early detection of potential flooding and ice movement, and informs infrastructure design of roads, culverts, bridges, gravel pads and pipelines. Spring breakup monitoring is integral to understanding regional hydrology and ice effects, establishing appropriate design criteria for proposed facilities and maintaining the continued safety of the environment, oilfield personnel and existing facilities during the flooding event.

The team identified numerous hazards and risks on the project, including weather exposure frostbite and hypothermia; slips, trips and falls; and wildlife interactions, among others. They also helped ensure the safety of one another and the successful completion of the project without any reportable injuries or incidents by implementing safety measures like holding daily safety meetings and operator briefings; wearing arctic survival gear during travel and carrying a survival kit and extra gear/supplies; and using Alpine facility radios when available, cell phones, emergency personal locator beacons (EPLBs) and satellite communications devices.

The ConocoPhillips Spring Breakup hydrology program has evolved since 1998, expanding from a handful of monitoring locations to what now amounts to over 60 monitoring sites. Throughout the past 26 years, Michael Baker has continued to adapt its safety processes and has collaborated with ConocoPhillips’ Safety team to develop extensive and thorough Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) plans on an annual basis.

According to a ConocoPhillips representative, the Michael Baker field personnel are “trail breakers” in the field program, and our safety documents have been hailed as a standard for other field programs.



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