Several years ago, while teaching a safe boating class in a school near Syracuse, NY I discovered the junior high school football team's game strategy. I didn't come across a secret play book, nor did I locate a talkative team member. This team's plan to achieve victory wasn't a secret at all. Their expectations, goals and priorities were clearly laid out and posted on the bulletin board near their impressively stuffed trophy case. Their plan read something like this:

  • We will control the ball for 60 % of the game clock or greater

  • We will return kickoffs 30 yards or more at least 90 % of the time

  • Our defense will deny third down conversions 85 % of the time

  • We will limit turnovers (fumbles and interceptions) to 2 or fewer per half

  • You get the idea…

I suddenly understood that if the right things were done in the right way, the final score would take care of itself. Long before I had studied management as a science, I was exposed to a clear, intelligible, and practical example of the effective use of what we now call upstream indicators or leading metrics, the foundation I believe, of effective management.

In my own sports background, I was more experienced with another form of coaching: Red faced, impassioned coaches jumping up and down, imploring us to go, fight and win! Go where? Fight whom? Win? While we cannot diminish the effect of charismatic leadership in high performance teams, even the most effective of leaders will fail in the absence of a coherent game plan.

This paper is a study in the creation of a game plan- one aimed at an outcome of Zero Injuries and Zero Incidents on large, complex construction, technological and remediation projects. The case study under consideration is the GE Hudson River Remediation program, one of the largest and most complex environmental projects ever undertaken. Phase one, will include the construction of a processing and transportation facility and the dredging of some 265,000 cubic yards of PCB impacted sediments from the upper Hudson River region. The project requires a Zero Incident safety approach involving the client (GE), the Construction Manager (Parsons), seven prime contractors and dozens of lower tier subcontractors.

Establishing a Zero Incident Goal

There are many possible goals for a safety program. "Fifty per cent better than average," "among the best 10%" and other worthy goals come to mind. Early in the planning stages for the Hudson River project, GE and Parsons agreed upon and articulated this Project Safety Goal: "To achieve Zero Injuries and Zero Incidents with all work tasks designed to minimize or eliminate hazards…"

  • Zero?

  • Is this a realistic expectation?

  • Is it an achievable goal?

Long before Parsons begins to build a bridge or dam, disassemble chemical weaponry or remediate an impacted environment, we create blueprints and plans.

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