Minnesota-Based Pipeliner Achieves Safety Milestone


Safety & Security

A crawler dozer outfitted for a sideboom in an equipment yard.
Sidebooms are just one of the equipment categories that receive an emphasis on safety from United Piping.

United Piping (UPI), based in Duluth, Minnesota, finished 2019 with a record of 2.5 million hours worked without a lost-time injury.

The company is a pipeline contractor that works in pipeline maintenance and construction, fabrication, horizontal directional drilling, hydrostatic testing, and blasting and painting.

“We’re incredibly proud of our team’s dedication to pipeline and environmental safety, day in and day out,” says Mel Olson, CEO and president of UPI. “Our employees are held to the highest safety standards and this achievement was a group effort. From our safety leadership team to our employees in the field, it took every employee to reach and surpass our goals.”

Employees from job sites and offices across 14 states were instrumental in achieving the milestone through their commitment to safety and quality, United says.

How UPI keeps safe with equipment

In addition to HDD equipment, the company fields side booms, excavators, cranes, telehandlers, forklifts, wheel loaders, crawler dozers, tracked vehicles, and even amphibious equipment, according to safety manager Mike Villa.

UPI uses a variety of safety strategies with its iron.

“We properly maintain our equipment, provide training for our all employees including operators and spotters, do not allow cell phone use, and perform pre-use inspections,” Villa says. “We also use spotters when working in congestion, when visibility is limited, while backing up, around overhead utilities, and while excavating.”

Since 2016, UPI’s total recordable injury rate has decreased, reaching zero in 2019. Initiatives like the company’s Think Three campaign (the “Three” being prevent hand injuries, safely lift and handle materials, and prevent trips, slips, and falls) and Safety Opportunity program are designed to keep workers aware on the job and accountable for themselves and their coworkers’ well being.

“(Think Three) reminds our employees to be fully aware of their surroundings and to prioritize the safety of those around them,” Villa says.

Identifying safety hazards in the field

Safety leaders encourage those in the field to identify hazards, corrections, and standout moments as part of this incentive program. UPI’s programs also led them to reducing their first aid case rate by 30 percent in 2019. An emphasis on continued training and responsibility helps employees spot and stop risks before they happen.

“Our Commitment to Zero has created a safety culture that reflects UPI’s core values of integrity, respect, and caring,” Villa says. “Quality and safety go hand-in-hand for us, and our employees know that completing a job correctly, timely, and safely is only possible if everyone in the field is dedicated to keeping the team injury-free and doing it right the first time.”

Source: United Piping