In a recent Engineering Business (ENB) article, JMJ client JGC Corporation is featured having achieved safety success utilizing JMJ’s IIF safety approach. At the same time, the IIF approach has also helped JGC improve construction quality and raise productivity while building on their safety leadership capacity.
Although companies have been taking special care to ensure safety at plant building sites, reducing accidents is no easy feat. JGC has achieved success in drastically reducing the number of accidents by enhancing its safety culture on top of strengthening its safety management system. At the same time, this has also helped to improve construction quality and raise productivity while grooming its leadership.
Introducing the program at Shell Pearl GTL
For the construction work at Shell Pearl GTL Plant in Qatar, the client was strongly determined to greatly reduce the number of accidents occurring on the construction site. The construction began in 2007. Pearl GTL was a large scale project that would take 7 packages requiring 500,000,000 hours, with 135,000,000 hours needed for JGC alone. There were 52,000 workers working during the peak. For such a large scale project, the customer had recognised that, statistically speaking, there was a possibility of 20 fatal accidents occurring. As typical measures would only lead to typical results, they considered adopting best practices to ensure that major accidents could be avoided.
However, after 1 year from the commencement of construction, the customer concluded that, in order to achieve great improvement in safety results, it was necessary to strengthen its leadership towards safety matters along with improving its systems. They decided on the Incident and Injury-Free™ (IIF™) Safety Program developed by global safety leadership consultancy JMJ Associates. The IIF Program was rolled out at the Pearl GTL plant from 2008 onwards.
JGC implemented the IIF concept and the program with the workers at the field. This helped to improve safety performance and contributed to a final total number of 73,000,000 hours without Lost-Time Incident (LTI). In particular, "What we were most proud about was that everyone was very serious in reducing the total number of accidents, not only for the usual recordable incidents but also for first aid cases. That led to these results." (Akabane Tsutomu, Senior Managing Executive Officer). In fact, the frequency of recordable incidents and first aid cases occurring was reduced to about 1/10 of the frequency before the program’s implementation in the field.
Large impact at remote areas
After JGC saw the effects of the IIF Program through the Shell Pearl GTL project, it started to introduce the same program in other overseas big scale projects.
For instance, for the Qatar Barzan Gas development project, 130,000,000 hours and close to 2 years of LTI-free records were achieved. JGC received the Qatar HSE Excellence Award for 2 consecutive years. Combining with the scope of work under the charge of Tecnimont, the company’s joint venture partner through the project for IGD Habshan 5 at Abu Dhabi, a total of 100,000,000 LTI-free hours was achieved. Furthermore, there were also other examples of accidents greatly reduced when the IIF program was introduced to other projects after the occurrence of major accidents. During 2013, JGC had a total of 137,300,000 hours of construction overseas. Although there were 46,000 workers working per day, there had only been 1 case of LTI throughout that year.
In addition, the introduction of the IIF program has helped to “energize the field” (Imamura Takashi, Head of Construction Department, No. 3 Operations Division). Other field sites were surprised when they saw this change. Such vigour has helped to actively promote suggestions for improvements in the field and enhance construction quality.
In particular, there were many workers without plant construction experience at the remote sites. By communicating with these workers, conditions at the field have indeed improved. For some projects, the camp operation was not executed well, resulting in the construction workers having low morale. Therefore, JGC’s project director headed down to the camp every day to manage the sentiments of the workers. As a result, there was a vast improvement in the operations of the camp. The morale of the construction workers also improved and the field became one that was safe and full of vibrancy.
What exactly is the IIF program about?
While safety performance can be improved by establishing a system that handles safety and accident response, it hits a plateau at a certain level. It is not possible to break out of this through conventional measures alone. The IIF program enables breakthroughs in safety performance by asking leaders to first come up with a safety vision and then create a roadmap to enable this vision to come alive throughout the workforce. Then, safety performance can be further improved by working with the values of field workers to engage a deep commitment for safety at all levels.
In traditional approaches, safety is usually addressed through systems that prescribe how safe work should be carried out and what penalty should be given if the system was not followed. However, raising safety performance through such a method could only improve performance to a certain extent, as it ends at system reviews or the reinforcement of regulations. Reducing the number of accidents to zero does not require visible systems or actions alone. Instead, the IIF program reasons that what is necessary is the transformation in culture and values. It is critical to enable values that allow each and every worker to stop engaging in risky behaviors.
“For instance at Qatar, we visit the field every morning to change the mind-set, in other words, the values. To achieve this, we need to first believe in the values ourselves and communicate them to the field workers every day," (Akabane Tsutomu, Senior Managing Executive Officer). In particular, there are workers in remote areas with little construction experience and no training on safety. However, when the training outcomes at the individual level were acknowledged, the atmosphere of the field became livelier, and safety performance also improved. More than anything, the field workers became caring towards one another and were collaborating to be mindful of safety.
This is not something which is visible like systems or actions based on the systems. Rather, it is set in motion by something which is not visible—the values and the change in mindset. This helps to create an atmosphere whereby workers dare to speak up when they themselves feel that the site is not safe.
Therefore, at JGC, "We communicate to the workers that we are seriously concerned about their safety." (Akabane Tsutomu, Senior Managing Executive Officer). Thus, improving the skills of supervisors is important.
Helps improve safety leadership
With regards to the IIF program, JMJ Associates provided the concept, while the specific program content was thought out and implemented by JGC. Bringing back the essence of the program that was implemented overseas, JGC developed its own ‘Good Relationship Campaign’ for domestic projects, which has reaped positive results.
JGC first implemented it during the construction work for Matsuzawa Hospital that was a PFI project. There were great pains in reducing accidents, but after understanding the concept of the IIF program, the workers thought on their own and rolled it out in all activities. Following that, the construction ended without any accidents. "In the end, we realized that responding to accidents by only making and keeping to new standards and checklists did not help to reduce the number of accidents." (Imamura Takashi, Head of Construction Department, No. 3 Operations Division)
Construction in Japan has seen safety systems and risk prevention campaigns rolled out. However, these efforts stopped at communication improvement campaigns, short of a breakthrough. JGC took this one step further to allow direct communication between workers and directors. This communication was not to pinpoint what was wrong, but to evaluate good behaviour and enable the workers to think for themselves about what could lead to safety. Workers felt happy to be recognised for good behaviour and started to take extra care to engage in safe behaviour. Furthermore, as the field workers are able to point out issues, the need for reworking at the field decreased and this has helped to improve performance.
Hence, JGC realized that the program was also applicable for improving quality and productivity. The IIF program was considered by JMJ to be applicable in improving safety at the leadership level. In other words, this means to have a clear vision and transform the team’s values to achieve the vision. JGC has leveraged this in other areas. It has considered utilizing it for education, to improve quality in the field and create awareness of safety at the home office as well. Improving design quality can help to reduce site accidents too. Activities helping to improve quality by eliminating design errors to achieve process safety have also commenced. Furthermore, explanation about leadership, which is the key crux behind the IIF program, is also carried out when new employees enter the field. They are asked to write reports on applications at the field level, useful for leadership training. For middle-class employees, there are also plans by the HR department to introduce leadership improvement training, so as to enhance leadership at a company-wide level.
"In the world at present, JGC has realized JMJ’s IIF concept the best.’ (Akabane Tsutomu, Senior Managing Executive Officer). The IIF program can be said to be deeply rooted in JGC. Customers from Japan and overseas are showing interest and expecting results. In the end, by ensuring the thorough prevention of accidents, it helps to improve quality and gain customer confidence.
To see ENB's article in Japanese, please download the PDF through the link above.