My toughest challenge: Lee Jenkins

Photo by Don Kadair

Position: Vice president overseeing operations throughout the Southeast and corporate business development

Company: Performance Contractors

What they do: Provide construction, turnaround and maintenance services to the chemical, petrochemical, pulp and paper, fertilizer, refinery, power, automotive and steel industries

Career: Jenkins is an LSU graduate and a 28-year veteran of the industrial construction business. Since he joined Performance Contractors in 1994, the company has grown from a single office in Baton Rouge with an annual volume of $39 million to its current annual volume of more than $1.2 billion.


THE CHALLENGE

During the first half of 2016, Performance noticed an increase in the number of jobsite injuries. Clearly, its safety procedures weren’t working as well as they used to.

“We had to do something different than we had been doing,” Jenkins says.

In the industrial construction business, tremendous responsibility falls on the foreman, Jenkins notes. Performance wanted to relieve some of that pressure and improve teamwork among the foreman, the safety professionals and the craft workers.

“You want to keep the message fresh and new,” he says. “It’s difficult to maintain that intensity every day.”   

THE RESOLUTION

Performance established a three-step planning approach called “Flawless Execution,” combining strategy, systems and what the company calls “sharp end.”

Strategy: Every foreman for every jobsite meets with a safety professional in the afternoon to discuss and plan the work for the next day.

Systems: The foreman describes the scope of the work. The safety representative then advises the foreman of the applicable policies and procedures, documents the “flawless execution plan,” and helps the foreman prepare for the next day’s tasks.

Sharp end: At the morning “toolbox meeting” before the work begins, the foreman and the safety official explain the plan and give the craft workers a chance to suggest improvements.

These sorts of conversations were already happening at various times in various ways. Performance created a formal process that requires early planning and interaction between safety officials and the craft workforce.

THE TAKEAWAY

The new procedures create the mindset that everyone is on the same page working toward the same outcome, Jenkins says. Previously, the craft workers often perceived the safety professional as a “policing agent” looking over their shoulders.

“They become a trusted resource,” Jenkins says. “It’s not the guy in the white hat who is watching them. It’s the guy in the hat that is over there helping them.”

In the six months after implementing the new program, the company saw a 75% reduction in reportable injuries, Jenkins says, and that trend of high safety performance has continued. The “flawless execution” procedure is required on every Performance project, and the company conducts audits to make sure it is followed.

“We’re looking for perfection,” Jenkins adds. “We’re trying to be as perfect as humanly possible.” 


This article was originally published in the second quarter 2018 edition of 10/12 Industry Report. Read more from this issue at 1012industryreport.com.

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