DKC achieved more than 3.5 million safe hours, over 5 million hours without a lost workday case and has a total recordable cases rate of 0.04, while completing the construction project under budget.
In 2007, DuPont India announced plans to invest more than US$30 million to construct its first research and development center, the DuPont Knowledge Center (DKC) in Hyderabad, India. When the DKC construction project was conceived and approved, workplace safety was a top priority for DuPont with an additional focus on reducing its contractor injuries and instilling safety practices for contract workers. The company’s primary consideration was to hire safe contractors and subcontractors, and then influence and enforce their safe behavior at the construction site.
Contractor safety during construction is of major concern to most of the companies in India, as well as elsewhere, when having to deal with issues such as:
In the design and construction of DKC’s state-of-the-art discovery research and application center, many critical safety factors were considered. The DKC design team had to work under an extremely tight timeline and budget, deal with a labor-intensive construction industry in India, and compete against the backdrop of a booming Indian economy where all national-level contractors were occupied with mega-infrastructure projects in the country (leaving little time and expertise for smaller-scale projects)
“Our objective from the beginning was to create positive change in the culture and mindset of those involved with construction. The challenge was to have construction contractors and workers first accept and then embrace safety personal protective equipment as essential tools of the trade. By sharing our safety knowledge and experiences with our contractors and working with them to ensure the construction practices matched DuPont safety standards, I believe we have made a lasting impact on the local construction industry and on a significant population beyond our company.”
Mr. Homi Bhedwar Director, DKC
DUPONT KNOWLEDGE CENTER
As a result of the foregoing issues, DKC elected to invite qualified local-level construction companies to bid for their construction project. While these construction companies have their own safety management processes, most did not comply with DuPont safety criteria and best practices. DKC developed a series of contractor selection requirements, including visits to bidding companies’ existing projects to gain first-hand knowledge of and observe implementations of their on-site safety standards.
A roadmap based on the six-step DuPont Contractor Safety Management System was used to help navigate this effectively. Following this rigorous process, Indu Projects was selected based on their safety standards and practices, as well as their meeting other specified criteria. More importantly, Indu Projects had demonstrated leadership commitment and willingness to embrace and implement the DuPont safety management processes. While Indu Projects was the main contractor, some contractors including Micron, Blue Star, Fire Pro, Eleganz and Honeywell were also appointed to complete the entire construction process based on their positive attitude towards safety.
Engaging 9,000 construction workers from multiple contractor companies and ensuring their compliance with DuPont safety practices enabled DKC to begin work on their new facility in June 2007.
Managing system to keep contract workers safe
Many steps were developed and implemented to ensure that a coordinated safety program between DKC and Indu Projects and their subcontractors started on the right track, and that subsequently, construction progress and safety performance would be maintained and sustained. One of the critical success factors was DuPont’s ownership of the site safety performance and its direct involvement in the management of the entire construction process.
Beyond safety orientation, training and equipment, DKC provided comprehensive health examinations, medical treatment, and health awareness program for the contractors.
As a result of its unwavering commitment to safety, the DKC project team achieved the significant milestone of more than 3.5 million safe hours between June 2007 and May 2008. To date, DKC has achieved more than 5 million hours without a lost workday case and has a total recordable cases rate of 0.04, while completing the construction project under budget. These landmark achievements are 5 to 6 times better than average site safety.
The six-step DuPont contractor safety management system.
On any given day, DKC counted more than 550 contractor workers on their job site, and yet DuPont was able to maintain one of the lowest contractor injury rates, with associated dollar savings in the thousands.
The DuPont Contractor Safety Management System consists of six steps. Each step is equivalent to a signpost along the journey of sustained safety improvement.
Step 1: Contractor selection
To kick-start the contractor selection process, a DKC Project Management Committee (PMC) comprising representatives from the safety, construction, sourcing, project management and legal teams was established. The team was empowered to identify contractors who are compatible with DuPont’s expectations on safety, quality, delivery and cost.
Once the bids were received, the PMC evaluated their safety performance on criteria such as injury rates, safety systems and programs they implemented, and competency of contractor people to be assigned to the project/ construction site. To have first-hand information on the short-listed contractors’ safety matrix, on-site validations were conducted on their on-going projects. A spread sheet on evaluations was compiled and scoring was assigned for comparison.
The outcome was a qualified bidders’ list, which indicated companies pre-screened for their safety capabilities.
The shortlisted bidders were those who had a management commitment to safety and agreed to follow the DKC Construction Manual in totality. They were thereafter thoroughly evaluated on various aspects of safety management including safety personnel, equipment and system.
Step 2: Contract preparation
Every detail in the contractor safety management process was reviewed. Documentation from bid document to Request for Proposals (RFPs) had DuPont safety expectations clearly stated, including:
Some of the specific points included in the contract were:
Step 3: Contract reward
An extended team comprising the PMC, the DuPont Project team and DuPont safety professionals then carried out the following:
Step 4: Orientation and training
Once the contractor was appointed, the next step was to ensure that the contract workers understood the project’s specific safety requirements. An orientation program for all the contractor workers was instituted with an additional craft skill program for specific jobs.
Detailed records were kept for the attendance, and the ID card necessary for site entry was issued only after each contract worker had completed the orientation segment and other necessary training programs.
More than 9,000 people were trained over a period of 17 months. The average per day manpower estimated for the project was 550 workers required for the job completion.
Step 5: Managing the contractor
The following processes were put in place to ensure construction work was carried out
according to the roadmap:
“With a large contractor workforce where contractors might have operated under their own safety rules, imposing and maintaining site safety standards was a constant challenge. “There was finger pointing when an incident happened, and bickering was constant right down to arguments over housekeeping standards,” said Mr. Balamurugan Subburaj, Construction Safety Manager, DKC.
Step 6: Post-contract evaluation
The following performance criteria were critically evaluated by Safety Professionals, Project Manager and the PMC:
“Within a month, we saw effective knowledge and skill transfer through this combination of classroom work and field work. Each learning experience was tailored to the needs of a specific work group and they have been well-received by workers and management alike,” added Mr. Balamurugan.
DuPont also developed and maintained leading and lagging indicators for measuring the safety performance. They were used to continually design and develop safety improvements.
Some of the indicators used were:
DKC Phase I, built on a 15-acre campus was completed in a record time of 17 months, within budget and setting a new benchmark of safety in the Indian construction industry. The project team trained more than 9,000 construction workers and delivered the project with zero lost workdays (one restricted workday) while logging more than 5 million man-hours – a remarkable achievement in the challenging local environment.
Only one restricted workday case happened and from this experience, DKC helped to improve a deficiency.
Mr. Bhedwar attributed the following as reasons for the shift in safe behavior:
Acknowledging individuals who had demonstrated good safety practices• Clear safety goals and expectations coupled with training and consistently tracking individuals who had demonstrated good safety practices
“It was rewarding to see the change in the contract workers’ attitude – from initial resistance to embracing the DuPont safety culture – and the results are testaments to the effectiveness of the system,” said Mr. Bhedwar.