15 July, 2015
As editor of the blog at a company devoted to helping companies achieve incredible things, I have the privilege of talking to individuals who, themselves, have achieved the extraordinary.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with one such individual here at JMJ: Rick Bair, Senior Partner and Quality Assurance for JMJ's Incident and Injury-Free® (IIF®) service offering. Rick was one of the developers of IIF in the early days of JMJ, and has pretty much devoted his life to making sure people are safe around the world.
Here, he shares his perspective on what, exactly, the JMJ Incident and Injury-Free approach is, and how he's seen it evolve. This is just the beginning of this interview series, so please do check back for more of Rick's wisdom. Also, feel free to ask questions of Rick in the comment box below.
JF: What is your history with the company?
RB: The first 20 years of my professional career I spent with Chevron, and most of that was in major capital projects doing similar things to what our clients are doing around the world--smaller than many of our current engagements, but similar. I have now been with JMJ for 20 years. I joined to work with [former JMJ CEO] Geoffrey Gioja to co-develop the Incident and Injury-Free practice with him.
I have had a number of roles inside of JMJ. I was the Incident and Injury-Free practice leader inside the company for a period of time. I was the Operations Manager and then the Regional Manager in the Americas. Then I was a Regional Manager in Europe and then transitioned to be Regional Manager in the EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa]. Subsequent to that, I was JMJ’s sponsor on the Shell Pearl project in Ras Laffan, Qatar, which was at the time the largest capital project in the petroleum industry. Just prior to returning to the States, I was the sponsor for all of our work on Chevron’s Gorgon project, which is the largest Liquified Natural Gas project in the world right now. That work was going on in Western Australia, as well as several major fab yards in Asia.
JF: So, all over the world?
RB: Yes, I’ve worked in 35 countries since I’ve been at JMJ. And since I’ve been at JMJ, I’ve racked up four and one half million miles on just one particular carrier and, if you take the average speed of an airplane, which is 500 miles an hour and divide it by that, I have spent--if I did the math right--one full year, 24 hour days, sitting in an airplane seat.
JF: Will you say a little about what the IIF practice is and then a little about how it was created and how it evolved?
RB: When Geoffrey and I originally created this, our focus was the elimination of all worker injury.
If you roll the clock back 20 years ago, people just didn’t think that was possible. At that time, people were trying to reduce the number of fatalities (particularly in construction), the number of serious injuries, and the severity of injuries. But eliminate? No one was talking about that.
The stand that we took was to develop a practice that would put wind in the sails of what the clients were already doing in terms of safety systems, rules and regulations and would bring about a culture aimed at no one getting hurt.
Now, over time and especially over the past two or three years, our company has expanded our thinking. So if you are asking me the question ‘what is IIF safety today?’ I would say it is everybody going home safe to their families (personal safety) and it includes no harm to the environment, no harm to the community, no impact to the operational integrity of an organization.
I gotta tell you, in my 40 plus year career in this construction industry, the thing I am most proud of is what we did over the last year and a half in safety.
JF: So you’re saying that it’s evolved over the course of its life cycle in 20 years?
RB: Yes. Initially Geoffrey and I were thinking about Incident and Injury-Free safety in terms of personal safety. As we have engaged with it, we now have started to embrace a more Integral and holistic approach, which includes things like no harm to the environment, no harm to the community, no damage to the facility--just a much more holistic view of safety.
JF: How does Incident and Injury-Free safety work to accomplish those goals?
RB: There are a number of things I would like to say in response to that.
First, Incident and Injury-Free safety does not replace the safety systems, processes or structures that our clients have in place. It really is intended to put wind in the sails of those. In order for Incident and Injury-Free safety to have traction, our clients need to have world class systems and safety systems and processes in place. Then our work really enables it.
What IIF safety does is build a culture that supports the existing safety systems and processes. It is sourced from a stand or personal commitment to no one getting hurt. People take responsibility to utilize the systems and processes because they know that’s what gets them home to their families safe.
If you look at the Integral approach, our clients have their safety systems and processes, which is in the lower right hand corner.
[Editor’s note: The Integral approach is an approach that informs IIF safety, distinguishing values and beliefs (left side of the quadrant) from visible behaviors, structures and actions (right side of the quadrant); it also distinguishes the individual (upper half) from collective groups and systems (lower half). In the Integral approach, all perspectives are equally important inside of a system].
Our work in supporting these is to develop an Incident and Injury-Free culture [lower left] that stand for no injuries and no incidents. We also work with the upper left hand quadrant, working with individuals to take responsibility to follow the rules and regulations because they choose to. All of that then drives the individual behavior that produces the kind of performance that we’re talking about.
That’s a description at a very high level. How do we actually go about this?
At its core, Incident and Injury-Free safety is a commitment based process. People take a stand for what they want. They may not even know how to do it or they might not even believe it’s possible, but they want it and they take a “stand”--they make a commitment that this is what they’re going to bring into existence. Every day, they work to bring that commitment forward to make it real.
It’s a little bit like climbing a mountain. You say, “I’m going to the top of the mountain. I don’t know how I’m going to get there, exactly. There’s going to be some challenges along the way. It’s going to be rough going along the way, but everyday I look at the top of the mountain and I take some steps up it.”
To me, that’s what a commitment for Incident and Injury-Free safety is. I know what I want, I don’t know how to do it, but everyday I’m at work making it happen.
JF: If you were sitting down with someone for the first time and they’re saying “that sounds great, it sounds like a great thing, but I’ve already got a safety consultant or we already have a safety culture”--why would you say that IIF safety is still important?
RB: Well, the first thing I would say is, “I think it’s great that you’re investing your resources in safety.” The question I would ask you is, “Are you satisfied with the performance? Is what you’re doing producing the result that you’re committed to?”
If it is, great. But if it’s not, maybe you’d like to talk to us a little bit more about Incident and Injury-Free safety. That’s where we do some great work: organizations that are committed and are putting the resources in, and they’re doing everything they know how, but it’s insufficient for what they’re committed to. They’re looking for the next step, looking for what’s missing to take that step so that everybody goes home safe, there’s no harm to the environment or the community and the facility is not compromised.
JF: What have you seen as a result of this work?
RB: Well, this could actually be a fairly long response, but I’m going to give you two quick responses.
First, I’ve seen organizations achieve levels of safety performance measured by lagging indicators that they did not think possible and establish landmark or benchmark levels of performance, best in class performance in their companies and sometimes in their industries.
The second, and as important, are the stories that we get from individuals inside organizations about working inside of an Incident and Injury-Free culture. They are just remarkable. I remember one man on a construction project in the Middle East telling me through a translator, “Rick, I’ve been working in this industry for 40 years and this is the first time I ever felt anybody cared about me.”
I had another man say, “This is the site I want my son to work at.” I said, “Why is that?” And he says, “Because this is the first time I’ve ever felt that somebody was taking care of me and watching out for my safety, and that’s what I want for my son and that’s what my wife wants for our son.”
I have a thousand more of those stories that I would love to share.