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Immel hits one million hours with no lost-time injuries

Brian Wetzel, vice president of operations, said employees, management team strive to make safety core value

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December 1, 2022

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN – Immel Construction, an employee-owned, Green Bay-based construction services company, is celebrating quite the company milestone – one million hours with no lost-time injuries.

“The safety of our employees is always a top priority at Immel Construction,” Brian Wetzel, vice president of operations, said. “It’s more than just the policies and procedures put in place to keep our employees safe – it took all employees driving our safety culture that helped us achieve this commendable achievement.”

Wetzel said though the company has had some minor injuries on the job, none constituted The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulations for lost time – meaning no one was injured significantly enough on the job to need time off to recover since January 2017.?

Wetzel said reaching the million-hour milestone is no small feat – especially for a construction company that has hundreds of employees in nearly a dozen states – but one the company is consistently committed to achieving.

“We have our risk management department, which updates our safety programming on a yearly basis to make sure we’re staying up to speed and compliance with the latest OSHA regulations,” he said. “Policies and procedures are only as good as the employees that enforce them.”

Wetzel said a continued focus on working safely has everything to do with Immel employees being engaged and involved – from the company’s evolving safety training program to its dedication to safety on and off the job site.

Identifying risks, hazards
The key, Wetzel said, is training and proactivity.

He said every construction project starts with a pre-planning meeting, where the risk management department identifies the top risks and hazards for that particular project and creates a game plan to safely complete it.

“Right from day one, we make sure the plan is set in stone, so everybody knows where our risks and our answers are,” he said.

Wetzel said he envisions the one million hours milestone having a positive impact on the company’s future.

“From a sales standpoint, it’s always good to be able to say we keep our employees safe, especially as a big company,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the biggest impact is from a recruitment standpoint and for our employees and potential employees to be able to say, ‘The company I work for does everything in (its) power to make sure we leave the same way we came into work.”


Immel crews celebrate the company’s one-million-hour milestone at the Door County Granary project site. Submitted Photo

While the success of the company is always a priority, Wetzel said it cannot outweigh the employees’ safety.

“It’s practicing what we preach,” he said. “It’s not just a fixture on the wall. I think having the fortune to reach one million hours speaks to the management department. Our employees and management team are always striving to make safety our No. 1 core value.”

Third-party support
Wetzel said Immel also leverages its outside relationships.

“Beyond our risk management team, we use outside third-party resources through our insurance broker and our carriers,” he said. “They have risk management staff that we engage in to help with training. If we’ve got a tough, unique problem that maybe we haven’t come across in the past, we might have connections to somebody else that has seen something like that.”

Wetzel said prioritizing employee safety means using all the resources available and being willing to invest both time and money in new ones.

“Our risk manager, he belongs to the Associate General Contractor’s safety committee, so he’s got a network of peers in the industry that are all also trying to keep their employees safe and happy,” he said. We’ll also bring in trainers and speakers a couple of times a year to our company meetings, and all those resources play a role in achieving one million hours.”

No stranger to safety milestones
While one million hours without a lost-time injury is an impressive feat, Wetzel said it’s not the first safety accolade Immel has received – being awarded the Safety Excellence Award from Aon Risk Services, Immel’s insurance.

“We’ve actually won that twice since I’ve been here, and I think that speaks highly of our efforts because that’s not an award you apply for,” he said. “They’ve gotten inside our safety programs both from an underwriting and an insurance standpoint, and they see what our losses are, like from worker’s comp, so they get that inside look and they decide if your company meets their standard.”

Immel has also received the Safety Excellence Award from the Associated General Contractors of America 12 times and is regularly nominated for the Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Safety from the Wisconsin Safety Council and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

“Safety awards, in my opinion, they’re neat because of the recognition, but they’re not why we do what we do,” Wetzel said. “We love to get those awards, obviously, but at the end of the day, no award is as important as our employees going home safe.”

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