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Partners in Safety

DALLAS CONSTRUCTION FIRM TEAMS UP WITH HEALTHCARE COMPANY TO DELIVER WORKSITE MOBILE MEDICAL SERVICES

As with nearly every profession, there are dangers and hazards with construction. Injuries due to falls and other accidents can happen, not to mention the problems that come with heat stress and overexertion. Health crises like these often result in construction workers having to take time off from the job to seek medical care or to recuperate.

partners in safetyPHOTO COURTESY OF TDINDUSTRIES

“About half of our injuries, year-over-year, are strain- and sprainrelated,” says Jamie Dabbs, director of safety at TDIndustries Inc., a member of multiple AGC chapters, specializing in mechanical construction, facilities solutions and building maintenance services. The services range from ductwork, electrical and plumbing to prefabrication and welding.

But today, TDIndustries employees who work in the field can access a host of medical services without ever having to leave the jobsite through a partnership with a company called Medcor Inc., based in McHenry, Illinois.

Medcor provides jobsite health and clinical services staffed with health professionals such as paramedics and nurse practitioners who can immediately triage injured or sick workers and make sure they access the right medical care.

The goal is to ensure that every worker returns home at the end of the day healthy and safe.

“Occupational safety and health is a continuous improvement journey for us,” says Dabbs, whose company is a past AGC Construction Safety Excellence Award winner and whose mantra is “Safety first. Safety always.”

“There are plenty of opportunities for us to be better and more proactive,” he says.

And the work comes with plenty of risks for the 1,800 construction specialists, electricians, welders and other professionals at TDIndustries who work out in the field. The company has a total of 2,662 employees.

“There’s just a plethora of things we can be exposed to,” Dabbs says.

A 2020 research study on non-fatal injuries published in CPWR — The Center for Construction Research and Training Data Bulletin reported that the injury rate among construction workers is 29 percent higher than all other industries combined. Moreover, the rate of injuries is highest among workers under the age of 25.

In addition, in 2019, construction companies reported close to 80,000 injuries that resulted in lost workdays, the study says.

The study also reported that in that same year, workers’ contact with machinery or other objects was the leading cause of non-fatal injuries at 32.8% followed by slips, falls and trips at 31.8% and overexertion or “bodily reaction” at 25.2%. Exposure to toxic substances, fires, explosions and assaults together made up 6.2% of non-fatal injuries in 2019 followed by transportation-related injuries at 4.7%.

Dabbs says he first heard about Medcor Inc. while on a site visit to one of TDIndustries’ general contractors on a project in San Antonio. During the visit, he spotted a mobile medic van parked on the property.

“I started a conversation with the medic about the services they offered and the benefits,” he says. “It was intriguing.”

One of the services Medcor provides is a program specifically for the construction industry. Under that program, Medcor offers a service where mobile medic units, staffed with trained medics, travel to construction jobsites to render aid to injured or ill construction workers.

The medics are able to quickly assess and treat minor injuries and administer treatments and a range of other health services, including drug and alcohol testing on the jobsite, which is designed to help employees get back to work faster. For more serious injuries and health emergencies, medics are able to administer basic life support until an ambulance arrives.

“I started researching to see if we could improve our safety offerings and bolster our safety department with the addition of Medcor mobile units,” Dabbs says.

So, in June 2019, TDIndustries contracted to have a Medcor Direct Response or MDR vehicle to service its construction sites in North Texas. Then six months later, in January 2020, the company signed a contract for a second mobile medic to service sites around central Texas.

Ralston Dorn, a paramedic with Medcor, services TDIndusties’ jobsites and says the MDR allows him to quickly respond to incidents as needed.

“The idea of it is to not only be mobile, but to respond throughout a geographic region to meet different service and client needs,” Dorn says.

Dorn also says that so far, he has assisted workers at TDIndustries with sprains and strains, administered first aid as well as checked blood sugar levels and other vital signs as needed. He has also had the experience of assisting workers who exhibited more serious conditions, such as stroke symptoms as well as cardiac and respiratory problems.

“As paramedics we’re really good at triage,” Dorn says. “Naturally we operate under physician-based protocols and best practices. We go down those protocols and algorithms and treat people the same way we would if we were on an ambulance.”

In addition, he says he often conducts safety walks through jobsites to identify any unsafe practices or workers who may be suffering from heat exhaustion or spot other potential hazards. So far, says Dabbs, investing in Medcor’s services is reaping a return on their investment with a reduction in claims.

“Not only does it [Medcor] pay for itself, we actually saw a cost benefit, a $20,000-plus savings in year one,” Dabbs says.

“Productivity savings is one of the biggest benefits of this offering,” says Dabbs. “Vaccinations, drug screens, first aid events and proactive activities such as respiratory questionnaires and fit testing no longer require that our partners leave the worksite, which saves many hours of downtime and travel.”