ZISA®:  Honoring Excellence in
Union Construction and Maintenance

Each fall, the union construction industry gathers in Washington, D.C. to honor the “best of the best” – the tripartite teams who achieved zero injuries on their industrial construction and maintenance projects in the previous calendar year.

Established in 2000 by the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee, Inc. (NMAPC), the Zero Injury Safety Awards® (ZISA®) is an annual recognition program celebrating those union contractors, labor representatives and owner-clients who work together in a tripartite fashion to create injury-free job sites.

We believe these phenomenal achievements – once thought to be impossible – are the direct result of the mutual cooperation, respect and willingness to collaborate that are found within the NMAPC and the union construction industry in general. The winners’ hard work, cooperation and dedication to the zero injury philosophy prove once again that union construction and maintenance are the safest and best options on the market.

ZISA® is recognized nationwide as union construction and maintenance’s premier award for industrial safety. It is a showcase for the best our industry has to offer, and reaffirms our commitment to sending our craft workers home safely each and every day. Below you will find information on the history of this prestigious awards program, delve deeper into the underlying zero injury philosophy and learn how owner-clients, contractors and labor representatives can become a part of this amazing safety success story.

Aiming for Zero

The evolution toward a zero injury safety culture in union construction and maintenance began in the mid-1980s, when owner-clients began to realize the true cost of on-the job injuries, which often ran into the tens of millions of dollars annually. Owners who in the past had taken a hands-off approach to the safety standards of their contractors began to get more involved. The importance of protecting workers – not to mention the potential cost savings – prompted them to take action.

As one longtime union contractor put it, “If you can’t be safe, if you can’t develop a safety culture within your organization, if you can’t lead safety within your organization, you’re not going to be in business.”

Leaders in the industrial construction and maintenance fields began studying the methods of those companies that managed, seemingly against all odds, to consistently complete large projects without a single employee injury.

Finally, in 1999, the NMAPC decided to begin formally recognizing industrial projects that were completed with zero injuries as a way to emphasize the quality of union construction. Veteran safety consultant Emmitt Nelson, who pioneered the use of the zero injury concept, worked with the NMAPC Safety and Health Subcommittee to create a set of guidelines for recognition. The next year, the Zero Injury Safety Awards® were born…and the rest, as they say, is history.

How ZISA® Works

To be eligible for a Zero Injury Safety Award® projects must be completed under one of the following agreements:  the National Maintenance Agreements, National Power Generation Maintenance Agreements.  To be eligible projects must also have zero OSHA recordable injuries. Projects with fatalities, days away, restricted or transferred (DART) cases or OSHA recordable injuries are not eligible.

Each ZISA® application undergoes a thorough audit and vetting process, and owner-clients are contacted to verify zero recordable injuries. The integrity of the ZISA® program is paramount, and under the guidance of the NMAPC’s Environmental Health and Safety professionals we ensure that the data provided is accurate and complete.

There are four categories for individual tripartite ZISA® recognition:  

Gold Star – Recognizing 1 million hours or more worked with zero recordable injuries

Silver Star – Recognizing 500,000 to 999,999 hours worked with zero recordable injuries

Bronze Star – Recognizing 200,000 to 499,999 hours worked with zero recordable injuries

Certificate of Merit – Recognizing 50,000 to 199,999 hours worked with zero recordable injuries

ZISA® Project Recognition Program Criteria

1. Who may apply? The owner/client, the construction manager, or the general contractor on the project may apply for the ZISA® Project Recognition Program for projects that have amassed a minimum of 500,000 hours with zero OSHA recordable injuries throughout the project.

2. Eligibility. Only projects designated as NMAPC Yellow Card Projects and/or projects that have received a Construction Manager (CM) Letter of Understanding from the NMAPC are eligible for this recognition. A work scope request must be submitted to make this a Yellow Card Project under the NMAPC.

The owner/client, the construction manager or the general contractor must have submitted a work scope request, and received permission by the NMAPC, to designate the project a Yellow Card Project (Ref: NMAPC Policy Decision V-2).

Construction Managers, in addition to receiving Yellow Card Project designation, must also have submitted a CM Letter of Understanding for the project in order for the project to be eligible for the ZISA® Project Recognition Program (Ref: NMAPC Policy Decision IV-6).

For purposes of eligibility for this award, all eligible contractors on the Yellow Card Project must have zero OSHA recordable injuries throughout the course of the project. No “re-starts” following an injury - the project must start with zero injuries and finish with zero injuries.

All winning tripartite teams are invited to attend the annual ZISA® Gala held each fall in Washington, D.C.

The Benefits of ZISA®

 As the industry’s premier safety recognition program, ZISA® provides a host of benefits to contractors, labor representatives and owner-clients. First and foremost, ZISA® emphasizes our industry’s commitment to jobsite safety in a public and highly visible manner, year in and year out. Recognition is a huge motivator.  It pushes all tripartite members to work even harder and leads to increasingly better safety performance down the road. Before the concept of zero injury gained widespread acceptance, no one thought it was possible to complete a complex construction project on time and on budget without a single injury. Now the question is not “Can we do it?” but “How far can we take this?”

For contractors, a Zero Injury Safety Award® is an invaluable marketing tool. It shows potential clients that they understand the importance of safety and have the knowledge, commitment and experience necessary to achieve the ultimate pinnacle of performance: an injury-free job site.

For labor representatives, a Zero Injury Safety Award® proves once again that union craft workers are the safest and best-trained option available to contractors and owners. In an increasingly competitive market, winning a ZISA® is not only a badge of honor – it provides unions with a crucial competitive edge.

For owner-clients, a Zero Injury Safety Award® confirms that safety is a priority for everyone involved in the project – and that production and quality will not be compromised.

A Zero Injury Safety Award® is much more than an attractive piece of hardware to place on a desk or inside a trophy case. It is greater than the sum of its parts – a physical reminder that when everyone works together and commits to a single goal, nothing can hold them back.

ZISA® by the Numbers

Average number of tripartite teams (each comprised of an owner-client, labor representative and contractor) honored each year since 2010:




Average injury-free hours recognized per year since 2010:



Total injury-free hours recognized, 2000-present:

2000 - 3,456,712

2001 -  3,855,972

2002 - 8,918,758

2003 - 10,074,035

2004 - 8,761,634

2005 - 9,910,966

2006 - 10,710,192

2007 - 20,288,778

2008 - 11,177,457

2009 - 10,302,603

2010 - 12,746,839

2011 - 13,500,576

2012 - 18,232,958

2013 - 20,191,803

2014 - 19,837,705

2015 - 22,014,854

2016 - 24,018,800

2017 - 29,086,757

Total: 257,330,880

2018 ZISA® Top Gold Star Award - Marcus Hook

18th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards® Official Video


"Welcome to Your Career" and "All Those Years"

17th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards® Videos

"The Importance of Safety"

17th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards® Videos

"A Dream of Safety" and "3 Safety Stories"

16th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards® Video

"Why Not Zero?" Music Video

Produced and Performed by Kerby Kellem of LIUNA Local Union 833 in New Brighton, PA

A Better, Safer World

15th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards® Video

In the Blink of an Eye

15th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards® Video

Managing for Zero

14th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards Video

Working for Zero

14th annual Zero Injury Safety Awards Video

 There's A Better Way & A New Vision

  13th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards® Videos

You Make the Difference

10th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards®Video

History of the Zero Injury Safety Awards®

10th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards®Video 

The Importance of Tripartite Cooperation

10th Annual Zero Injury Safety Awards®Video