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British Airport Authority Deploys JMJ To Create Safety Culture at Heathrow’s Terminal Five

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  • Client: BAA Terminal Five
  • Industry: Construction
  • JMJ Service: Delivering Incident and Injury-Free Results
Results: Achieved two periods of one million person-hours without a reportable accident; 40% decrease in minor accidents; over 75% of the workforce states that this is the safest site they have ever seen.

“The case for change was so compelling. We knew we couldn't hide behind percentages. This is about saving lives.” Becky Martin Internal Performance Management Consultant BAA

Achieved two periods of one million person-hours without a reportable accident; 40% decrease in minor accidents; over 75% of the workforce states that this is the safest site they have ever seen.

Business Challenges:

Terminal Five (known as T5) is the newest passenger terminal at London’s Heathrow Airport. It is owned and operated by the British Airport Authority (BAA), the world’s leading airport company. Heathrow is the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic and the third busiest in total passenger traffic. 

During construction (2002 to present), T5 has been the largest and most complex construction project in Europe, with a budget in excess of £4 billion. The T5 project consists of major infrastructure developments such as roads and rail links, a new control tower, two state-of-the-art terminal buildings and connecting aircraft taxiways. In order to access the new control tower, a complex timetable had to be met as the tower is located within the existing confines of the active airport requiring all personnel and materials to cross runways and taxiways that were in use. 

It has taken in excess of 37 million person-hours to conduct the T5 project to date, with a workforce peaking at 6,000 people and involving over 60,000 workers of all construction disciplines. Phase one was completed and officially opened in March 2008. Once fully completed in 2012, T5 will handle 30 million passengers a year. 

BAA is a highly safety-conscious company and recognized the potential for a project as large and diverse as T5 to expose many workers to major health and safety risks. Based upon industry norms, it was predicted that the project would suffer two fatalities and over 600 serious injuries. 

For BAA, that was unacceptable. 

As a result, BAA implemented a comprehensive Safety Management System (SMS) before construction commenced, but by mid-2003, the T5 project was still experiencing a significant number of accidents. They recognized that an SMS on its own would not produce the breakthrough safety results they sought. They also needed a way to capture the hearts and minds of a diverse workforce (35 nationalities in all) and determined that the way to accomplish this was through the creation of a strong safety culture across the site—one that was accepted by all the contractors engaged there. Over 60 contractors worked on 16 major projects and 147 sub-projects. In addition, BAA continued to use the SMS system to effectively address the issue of the vast turnover of contractors onsite. 

Client Goals:

  • Create an Incident and Injury Free® (IIF®) workplace across the T5 construction site 
  • Engage a large, diverse and multidisciplinary workforce in the commitment to an IIF workplace 3

How JMJ Helped:

JMJ was engaged to support the T5 Project Management Team (PMT) in implementing a full IIF safety program across the entire project, including all contractors. This program was launched in January 2004 and was sustained by the project as it transitioned to final fit-out and finishing. 

The IIF program for T5 created a collective vision for the future of safety on the project and the leadership required to enable that future, rather than focusing on traditional measures such as historical statistics or compliance. The IIF approach creates safety as a core value, not just one of a competing list of priorities. 

Key components of JMJ’s safety program for T5 included: 

  • Focusing on safety leadership as opposed to safety management
  • Gaining genuine commitment from senior managers to improve their personal involvement in health and safety 
  • Improving supervisors’ skills and involvement in health and safety 
  • Winning “hearts and minds”, including persuading everyone to take personal responsibility for their own and their colleagues’ safety 
  • Demanding both productivity and safety, and removing perceived conflicts 

JMJ conducted an initial assessment of the T5 workforce to ascertain the current culture and operating environment, as well as diagnose strengths to reinforce and gaps to fill en route to building an IIF safety culture. The assessment also was used to design a tailored culture-building approach for the T5 project. 

JMJ then conducted commitment and alignment workshops with the project leadership team, focused on leadership coaching, and—importantly—taught IIF trainers who were able to cascade the safety commitment across the whole T5 project. Ultimately, everyone involved in the project was engaged in the IIF safety program. 

Results:

Overall, the IIF program has, in partnership with T5, created excellent safety results. For example:

  • Achieved two periods of one million person-hours without a reportable accident 
  • Downward trend in reportable accidents 
  • 40% decrease in minor accidents 
  • Positive feedback from HSE, unions and insurers
  • Over 75% of the workforce states that it’s the safest site they have ever seen
  • Workers are able to talk to managers and supervisors about safety issues 
  • Workers are now comfortable in stopping unsafe work in their own area 

To date, the safety performance of the project has received significant industry and media attention, saying that “BAA and its partners have notched up a safety record that could set a new benchmark for the construction industry,” according to People Management magazine. 

At the “Building” Safety Awards 2005, BAA T5 won four categories: Occupational Health, Client with Best Commitment to H&S, Best Site Facilities and Safety Worker of the Year. 

According to Becky Martin, the internal performance management consultant at BAA who led the safety initiative, "The case for change was so compelling. We knew we couldn't hide behind percentages. This is about saving people's lives."