My interest in construction started at age five. I distinctly remember the day my parents gave me a dump truck load of gravel and a large bin of used Tonka toy trucks. I would play for hours in that pile of dirt sifting and grading, building roads and erecting bridges. It was FUN!
My career in construction started the summer after my 13th birthday when I started working for my dad’s electrical contracting firm. I was a “gofer”. I would “go for” this and “go for” that ultimately saving time for the journeymen electricians I worked with. Our crew had a van that was lined with shelves that was full of bins. Like items were grouped together and some bins had dividers for the various sizes of each part. It was my job to find the right part and get it fast.
I soon began to think about how the layout of the bins on the shelves in the van could be improved. I went to work organizing the bins. I re-organized the shelves to put the most common things closest to the sliding van door for easy access. This improved the time it took me to get things from the van significantly and made the journeymen happy. That is, until I went back to school and they couldn’t find anything in the van!
This was the first time I can remember executing on a desire to improve a process or system, a propensity that has led me to become an AGC CM LEAN Certified professional. I am constantly thinking about how the way things are currently done can be improved.
Fast forward about 20 years to when I was the project manager on a $170M construction project for PCL in Seattle. For me, some of the childhood fun of construction had worn off. Deadlines, change order negotiations, claims and safety violations never happened back on that dirt pile. The challenges of improving and making positive changes seemed a lot harder than moving bins on shelves in a van.
PCL, an industry leader in safety, ingrained in its teams the importance of safety and worked hard to build a strong safety culture. In fact, our team took great pride in being the safest active project for our client. This success was thanks, in part, to a new safety observation system that we were selected to pilot. The system would collect our observations and provide a report that we used to plan safety initiatives for the coming month.
One day, there was an accident on the project. A worker was struck in the head and was injured. It was a serious incident. As our investigation would later find, it was also completely preventable. This was frustrating. It set off a familiar thought:
“How can we improve the way that we do things to prevent incidents like this?” I remember thinking, “How can we use the observation data we collect to predict when our workers are at risk of injury?”
Since then, I’ve dedicated my career to making our technical systems and organizational processes help reduce risk on projects.
Shortly after I joined Sundt, another contractor with an industry leading culture of safety, I proposed a system that would use data collected from project sites to help identify those most at risk for an incident. Built in-house, that system went active in 2017. In the two years since, the OSHA Recordable Incident Rate at Sundt has improved by more than 50% due to the use of system and other safety initiatives. What’s more, these safety results and the system itself have assisted Sundt in landing new work with clients who desire an active approach to safety management on their projects.
I’ve joined Newmetrix to bring these same impressive results to the rest of the industry. Leveraging my experience, my passion for safety, and the lessons I’ve learned in building an incident prediction system, I will assist our customers and partners to bring about reductions in the risks associated with construction work. I am excited to be a resource to our industry partners, helping them tap into the power of AI (artificial intelligence) to reduce risk on projects.
This new venture is not just fun, it’s an opportunity to change the industry.