Lean Safety

15 June 2017

Closing The Safety Gaps at McKinstry

Written by  Jack Rubinger Published in Lean Safety

McKinstry, a national leader in designing, constructing and managing high-performance buildings, started a safety transformation journey in 2013 and has been making major company-wide changes to its program with the goal of being an industry leader by 2020. McKinstry is focused on becoming an industry leader through a variety of metrics and behaviors.

by Jack Rubinger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 503-964-4877

“First, we aspire to achieve a company-wide recordable incident rate (RIR) of <1.0 by 2020 (currently we are at 2.83), and a days away restricted time of <0.5 (currently we are at 1.49). Those metrics are lagging. To lead, you need to focus on leading indicators. We also have the goal of achieving a Safe Work Planning Quality Assurance Review Audit average rating of >98% (currently we are at 95%). As an industry leader, we must have a team of dedicated professionals. Our aspiration is to have all McKinstry safety professionals with advanced certifications, with 75% or greater holding a bachelor’s degree or higher,” explained Ryan Hough, McKinstry, Corporate Safety Director.

Team members are transforming the company by getting feedback from both the office and the field and creating buy-in into changes taking place to help fix critical gaps in both internal and external communications.

Examples of critical gaps:

  • People get into a big hurry and do not communicate the small details.
  • People do not take the time to pre-plan jobs causing items to be missed.
  • Projects are passed down with short start times. This does not allow time to plan.
  • Customers do not always know what they want done.
  • Customers wait until the last minute to start a job.
  • Job details are not provided to the contractor until it is time to start the job. This does not allow the contractor time to plan for the job.

There are several causes for these communication gaps.

“Individuals involved in meetings are not always doing the work in the field, so the information doesn’t always make it down to the guys in the field,” said Joe Forest, McKinstry, Oregon Safety Director.  “Many companies may not have a standard process for communicating information between the office and the field.”

Closing the safety communication gaps requires processes to identify and mitigate hazards and improve both internal and external communications.

McKinstry has standardized a safety process called Safe Work Planning (SWP). The process includes tasks associated with the development, pre-planning, construction and commissioning phases of a project.

“We had multiple groups in our organization and everyone was doing something different,” said Forest. “This caused inconsistencies in the company and best practices were not being shared.  Safe Work Planning gathered people from all the different organizations to brainstorm the best ways to complete a job.”

The intent of the program is to clearly lay out tasks from the initial sales opportunity through closeout of a project. Each task in the safe work planning checklist has a person responsible for its completion. The SWP checklist is reviewed at various job meetings to ensure that the project stays compliant and all necessary safety tasks are completed.  

The development phase requires the sales team to conduct an initial site safety assessment, collect good faith surveys for potential hazardous materials in the facility and conduct a safety discussion with the client prior to making a transfer to the project team.  

In the pre-construction phase the project team conducts a project hazard assessment by identifying the different safety programs needed to create the Site Specific Safety Plan.

Documentation for the plan, which includes subcontractor pre-qualifications and notes from subcontractor pre-construction meetings, resides in a project safety binder within the project folder structure.

The project then moves to the construction phase where the project team manages the documentation associated with the project along with executing the scope of work.  The documentation associated with the construction phase are pre-task plans, safety data sheets, site safety orientations, paperwork for high risk activities, weekly safety inspections, weekly safety meetings and safety incident reports.  

The closeout phase is the final phase of the project. In the closeout phase the project team is required to archive the documentation and demobilize.  

An audit program that measures key performance indicators from the SWP checklist is reported up to the company COO on a monthly basis. The results of the scores are maintained in the Quality Assurance Review Dashboard where everyone can see current information about incidents, training and quality assurance reviews on their phones and computers.


What is the dashboard?

Ali Vahed, McKinstry’s Safety Risk Analyst, created the business intelligence dashboard which collects large sums of safety data and displays it in real time. The safety dashboard’s power comes from the standardized processes which were created to collect the data and metrics. Every process, from job site safety reviews to quality assurance audits, has a repeatable and consistent method for evaluating what is happening on a job site.

“For years, we have provided data to our customers by creating graphs and charts based on information in an excel spreadsheet. This information is typically kept with the safety team so people did not get into the data,” said Forest. “Now, everyone from the vice president to the field foreman can access and analyze trends that are taking place in their region, business unit and project.”

The dashboard allows team members to do several things:

  • Incident dashboard:  change the parameters to review several different details of the data, identify trends and review incidents
  • Training dashboard:  identify needed trainings and review the status of trainings
  • Quality Assurance review dashboard: provides information on the reviews conducted in the Safe Work planning process

“The new safety dashboard allows me to look at the trainings needed for individuals on my projects.  I can work with the safety team to make sure my crews are up to date based on the scope of work,” said Dave Stevens, McKinstry’s Sheet Metal Superintendent.

While closing gaps in communication is critical for safety and operational efficiency, companies are in business to make a profit. The dashboard helps improve safety, operations and profitability by providing people in the office and field with the proper information about the project.

The dashboard has also significantly changed how company leaders (management and field) discuss and think about safety. Instead of guessing about what is going on, the dashboard lets leaders know and discuss actual data happening on their projects. The data includes, but is not limited to, RIR, cost of injury, hours worked, types of incidents, who is getting hurt and at what level (trade/experience), on time reporting, training completion, audit scores, etc. All of the data can be drilled down to the actual input reports to gain as much clarity as is needed. The dashboard has led several changes in how leaders address safety.

The Safe Work Planning process also helps teams properly pre-plan their projects. The benefits are hazards that are identified and mitigated before they become an issue. The crews get the right expectations and materials the first time.

The teams are supported by everyone because time has been invested up front to minimize unsafe situations.  The Safe Work Planning process also provides the benefit of setting expectations and creating a team atmosphere for both staff and field.
Life before and after the dashboard

Before the training dashboard was created, certifications were managed through excel files and there were many situations when certifications would expire.

Now, people manage their certifications and are pro-active on making sure they are current on the classes established in their learning paths. In meetings, project managers review the status of individuals completing the trainings set up in their learning paths.

Before the incident dashboard, people relied on the safety department to provide the current safety statistics. Many times, there were last minute requests which left safety professionals scrambling to get the data for a meeting.

Now, people have the knowledge and power to access incident data that is specific to their project or business unit.  Meetings now start by analyzing the latest trends — say the low score of an audit. The field crews can access the same powerful data with their phones and determine how the incidents may affect their crews. This information also provides relevant information so weekly toolbox topics can address what is actually happening at the project level.

Before the quality assurance review was created, only a small group of people knew how well the project was set up.

Now, meetings focus on reviewing areas where the most deficiencies occur.

“McKinstry has a long way to go and a lot of areas that need significant improvement to reach our safety transformation goals by 2020,” said Hough.  “Standardization of safe work processes that our people are trained and proficient on coupled with access to all the safety data will allow us to drive the right behaviors and develop a truly interdependent safe work culture.”

The Safe Work Planning process and the Safety Dashboard has affected the way McKinstry does business in several ways — standardization of project flow, consistency from office to office and a clear understanding of execution making projects leaner and more efficient.


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