Shielded from danger

Sabre Demolition’s SHIELD safety database makes reporting incidents easier for employees.

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With one visit to Sabre Demolition Corp.’s website, you are immediately greeted by a large graphic and quote by its president, Matt Dixon, that reads “Our commitment is safety.” Our mindset at Sabre is nobody gets hurt.

Sabre, based in Warners, New York, is a demolition and environmental contractor that performs some of the most complex and hazardous activities for its clients throughout North America, Puerto Rico and select international locations. Matt Dixon says, “Most companies talk about working safely and some do, but one truly needs to look at how well defined and robust his or her safety system is.”

In 2008, Sabre began using a behavior-based safety system called the Loss Prevention System (LPS). LPS is a comprehensive management system designed to prevent or reduce losses using behavior-based tools and proven management techniques. It was developed by Dr. Jim Bennett, Ph.D., president and owner of LPS Inc. He has worked with hundreds of organizations over the past 38 years in loss prevention and safety management.

“We were introduced to LPS while working for a specific client. The client trained our field teams and we understood the basic concept. While we felt we had a good safety program and were focused on safety, use of LPS was not utilized on other projects which did not involve this client” says Matt Dixon.


In 2013, Sabre worked with Bennett and LPS Inc. to become full users of LPS. “We liked the concept of LPS, how it blended with our current safety program, and the positive effect it was having on the implementation of some of our projects,” says Steve Dixon, Sabre vice president. “We really liked that we were being proactive versus reactive as it pertained to employee safety so we decided it was time to take LPS company wide and go all in.”

LPS Inc. met with Sabre to discuss goals, schedule and milestones. An up-front investment as well as annual payments is required to utilize the system and the proprietary tools developed by LPS Inc. Once the system is rolled out, LPS Inc. performs routine and scheduled audits to validate that the system is being maintained and utilized as intended.

“We knew this was going to be a big investment for Sabre both monetarily and time wise, but we saw LPS to make our safety culture more vigorous and mature. It also is a differentiator between Sabre and our competitors,” Matt Dixon says. Sabre is the only demolition company in the world with a LPS license.

Sabre utilizes LPS on all of its projects. Field teams generate items such as near loss reports and loss observations. Loss observations are a tool to observe a task while it is being performed and then score how safe the task was completed, the observations are then used to improve or change how the task is completed in the future. These tools are examples of LPS being a proactive tool. But it does not end there.

The forms generated from Sabre field projects are sent back to its corporate office where they are reviewed by not only the corporate safety team, but also the owners for quality and lessons learned.

Significant lessons learned or near losses (where someone could have been injured) are used to generate safety alerts. These alerts typically tell what happened and what could have happened as a result of the work activity. The alerts are then distributed internally to all Sabre employees, subcontractors and Sabre clients.

“We believe in generating quality tools and not just ‘pencil whipping up a form just to get it done,’ and we feel that every injury is preventable, which is why we pass these lessons learned along so that subcontractors or clients that may have similar-type work activities going on can prevent something similar from happening on one of their jobs” says Pete Mietus, senior corporate health and safety director.


A key focus and reason for LPS being more of a proactive system is it aims at analyzing leading indicators. Sabre took the use of LPS one step further as it pertains to technology. In 2014, Sabre worked with a web development company to design a web-based platform in which could work with the LPS process.

“We were using the forms on our field projects in a hard copy form and then faxing them back to the office,” Brian Hornyak, vice president of major projects, says. “We generated a lot of paper and were constantly following up with people to try and decipher what word or words they were using.”

From there, Sabre created the name SHIELD, Sabre’s Home Information Equipment & LPS Database.

“We really tried to have fun with coming up with a name,” says Hornyak. “There were a lot of good suggestions from employees, but in the end, we felt SHIELD nailed it with the acronym and the metaphor of a shield with a sabre sword.”

SHIELD is now used on all Sabre projects, and the company employs a full-time staff member to manage it and the data generated.

Employees can enter their LPS tools via laptop, tablet or smartphone. The form is available for the corporate safety team to review remotely. The corporate safety team can generate a multitude of safety metrics as a result of the LPS tools being entered electronically.

“We are able to see where we need to focus,” says Mietus. “Are we performing a lot of tasks involving ergonomics? Are we having near losses associated with the use of fall protection? If so, we will bring that up at our weekly operations calls.”

Field employees can download the library of job loss analyses (JLA) for work tasks they will be performing. SHIELD makes them readily available for downloading and editing. In 2017, Sabre plans to roll out the equipment module of SHIELD in which maintenance activities associated with heavy equipment will be documented and tracked.

Sabre also plans to automate its training library by using SHIELD to alert the supervisor when one of its employees has a training certificate or medical surveillance item about to expire.


Since 2013, Sabre has not had a recordable injury, including subcontractors and vendors. Employees are more engaged in safety and have really bought in to the LPS system.

The culture has changed from safety only being the safety officer’s job mentality to safety being everyone’s responsibility. Every employee is empowered now—from the guy with a shovel to the guy inside one of the pieces of equipment.

The company is more proactive with regards to safety and identifying potential losses before they turn in to a loss capturing near losses and analyzing them. And reporting of losses and near losses is not punitive as with some safety cultures, instead the reports are encouraged.

In an industry surrounded by safety risks and work place hazards, “A successful project is when we can send all our employees, subcontractors and vendors home safely,” says Matt Dixon.

The author is the vice president of major projects for Sabre Demolition, Warners, New York,

March 2017
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