Nov 30, 2018
I recently spoke with JMJ senior consultant Andy Mais about the value of bringing the commitment to Incident and Injury-Free® (IIF®) safety into the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) process.
In this interview, Andy offers "four golden opportunities" that an early implementation of IIF safety provides, as well as the ways to make the IIF approach effective in the office before the work goes into the field.
JWF: What is the value of implementing JMJ's IIF safety approach during the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) stage of a major capital project?
AM: A project involves designing, planning and executing the work. FEED involves the first two of these steps and culminates in a go/no go decision to move into execution. What project sponsors decide is largely determined by whether they believe that the technical scope, time schedule and budget presented to them is realistic. Once a project moves into execution, a momentum builds that provides diminishing opportunities to change the design or re-plan. In the past, clients would call JMJ during execution, asking for help when levels of incidents and injuries became unacceptable to them. By bringing us in at the start of FEED, a project team has a much higher influence on the success of its project by using the Incident and Injury-Free® (IIF®) Safety Approach.
The value of implementing IIF safety during the FEED stage of the project is that you get a chance to create a working culture and environment for people right at the start of the project. You can help people eliminate those things that can cause problems during construction. If you had a chance to do that, why would you not take it?
By doing this, IIF safety doesn’t occur as a punitive reaction from management to things going wrong. Rather, it becomes the normal way for designing and planning a project.
Implementing the IIF approach during the FEED phase provides Four Golden Opportunities to:
These relationships can last for many years. So, it makes sense to use the IIF approach to start to create these partnerships early by welcoming different perspectives on what makes for a safe project. Useful lessons from the past can be identified, selected and adopted before any heavy machinery and lifting starts on site. When parties invest time up front to build relationships, shared understanding, alignment and effective ways to talk with each other, it makes a difference. It is much easier to have ‘difficult’ conversations when you know that people around you trust and respect each other. And, it is much better to have such conversations before anyone gets hurt.
Recruiting a project management team takes a long time, and this team sets the tone for the project culture. By adopting IIF safety early in FEED, you can onboard people quickly into a strong set of project values. You can develop their skills so that they are capable of creating IIF safety across the project.
The IIF approach helps people evolve their relationship to standards from one of compliance to one of choice. When people can understand why a standard has been set and how meeting a standard creates safety for people they care about, all of a sudden they start to relate to standards in a new way. A standard is no longer a bureaucratic hurdle, but rather a way to put people in the picture.
Projects these days are often large and complex. A quick look down the list of contractors and equipment suppliers will indicate how many client/contractor relationships there are. These relationships can have an unequal quality to them in which clients feel they have to command and control.
It is often said that projects are over-managed and under-led. By adopting IIF safety during FEED, contract owners are trained to talk about safety with contractors and suppliers in a way that generates a shared commitment to safety, creates partnership, and encourages them to take on the leadership for this in their own organizations. Imagine the culture that can be created when a network of strong, mutually supportive relationships are developed during the design and planning phase.
JWF: How does the IIF approach work to do this? How do you actually apply the IIF approach to the FEED phase?
AM: Well, in the past, what we did was apply the IIF approach we used in execution into the design office and it really didn't work. Here’s why:
When you are on a construction site during execution, you are aware of the physical dangers around you. You see cranes, heavy machinery and slip, trip and fall hazards. It’s evident to everyone that the environment contains risk and can be a danger unless they remain vigilant. So, the proposition of an Incident and Injury-Free workplace is often compelling to people because they can see that it's relevant, personal and important to them.
However, in the design and planning office, you walk around the office and it looks as if, well, there's nothing dangerous here so what can go wrong? In the past, Incident and Injury-Free safety was seen by people as preventing slips, trips and falls in the office. That really was just missing the point.
What has made the difference is we have started to help people in the office environment—planners, designers, contracts people, IT and administrative staff—see that what they do (or don’t do) each day has an impact on hundreds and often thousands of people in a year or two years or five years down the line.
JMJ suggested that perhaps there was a bigger opportunity here. Rather than just reinforcing the rules, what might provide a better overall outcome?
It’s like a relay race. When you can join the dots for someone, and show them how what they do today will help someone else down the line to do their job completely and safely, then they form a relationship with that person without ever meeting them.
We use many of the same elements of Incident and Injury-Free safety that we use in the field. We set up a leadership team of people who can influence the whole of the project. We conduct diagnostics to understand how people relate to their job, the project and opportunities to create an Incident and Injury-Free project. And we do a number of workshops to align people and help them get well organized.
I think that the biggest opportunity we've got in this phase is to help people eliminate risk from the design so what they design can be built safely and operated safely. We help people create a structure to learn and implement lessons from the past. Then we help people shift their relationship to the supply chain from one of controlling information flow, to one of embracing the supply chain as vital partners in the project.
JWF: Is there anything else that you think is important to mention?
AM: I would just say that in the FEED phase, the decisions that you make can keep thousands of people safe as well as save millions of dollars down the line. IIF safety is a very high leverage approach to take. As the project progresses and time goes by, people have less and less influence on how the project is going to get built, how's it going to perform and how things are going to turn out. So, I think an increasing number of our clients are starting to see that adopting the IIF approach in FEED is a big opportunity for them.