“Blueprints” is a Spark series exploring McKinstry’s core business philosophies from our leaders’ perspective. This is the third story in the series, from McKinstry’s Chief Operating Officer: Ron Johnson
Most companies will tell you that safety is important to them. No company wants to be labeled as “unsafe” or give the impression that safety is secondary to anything else.
Now, many companies truly do value safety. I would even say most companies are well-intentioned when it comes to protecting their employees and clients. However, there’s an enormous difference between saying that safety is your top priority and proving that safety is your top priority.
At McKinstry, safety is our top priority and we work hard to demonstrate this every single day.
It’s an indelible part of all aspects of our business. We have high expectations when it comes to safety because we know it’s the only way we can achieve excellence in all that we do.
Placing safety front & center
Many in the construction industry often view safety as its own discrete entity, as a matter of compliance, and, most unfortunately, as a burden. McKinstry, however, refuses to think about safety that way. We don’t isolate or separate safety, we instead integrate it into all of our work.
McKinstry proudly places safety first—it’s how we provide certainty to our people, clients, and the larger community. Making every project as safe as possible is the best way to prevent accidents while also guaranteeing our projects are high-quality, delivered on schedule, and delivered on budget.
You might be wondering how McKinstry actually ensures our place at the forefront of safety. Quite simply, it’s in our DNA. McKinstry’s safety culture actively promotes, rewards, and cultivates safe behaviors and choices across the map. Wherever behaviors are unsafe, we focus on changing those through vigilant monitoring, reporting, and training.
Safety is never delegated, consigned, or transferred at McKinstry—it’s a fundamental part of every employee’s day. McKinstry employs a robust team of safety professionals and we value their support, but it’s crucial that everyone in our company owns safety, not just the safety team.
Leading (not following) on safety
McKinstry is extremely proud of our safety culture, but we also know that complacency can be the enemy in such a dynamic field. In order to stay ahead of the curve, we must constantly evaluate and improve our safety efforts.
While safety has been important to McKinstry since our founding in 1960, we’ve recently set a goal to become truly world-class—requiring a “safety transformation” above and beyond our already-high standards.
This means we’re setting our benchmarks outside of just the construction industry—looking at safety advances in the aviation, medicine, manufacturing and petroleum industries, to name a few.
It’s not enough to just be a top-tier safety performer within our industry. McKinstry wants to be one of the safest companies, period.
In order to fuel this safety transformation, we’ve hired more safety professionals, invested in robust safety training and safe work planning programs, and enabled our safety measures to drive us toward standardization—making every project codified, deliberate, and shortcut-free.
As a result, our employees are more capable, knowledgeable, and trained in our safety culture than ever before. Our numbers of recordable incidents and near misses are extremely low, and we will continue to reduce those numbers. McKinstry’s safety performance is better today than it’s ever been.
Why safety matters
For those who’ve never experienced it, it’s hard to describe how it feels to be responsible for someone else’s injury. Every incidence is an unacceptable tragedy, a powerful reminder of the life-and-death stakes behind creating an environment that’s as safe as possible.
It’s imperative that we learn from every incident and allow our mistakes to improve us, not define us.
Ultimately, safety excellence and operational excellence are inseparable. Accidents are a preventable, intolerable disruption to the great work we do. When we work safely, our work is higher-quality, we’re efficient, our clients are satisfied, and we’re cost-effective. Most importantly, though, every McKinstry worker who works safely will go home safely every night.
Anything else is unacceptable, and that’s why safety is no accident at McKinstry.
Ron Johnson is McKinstry’s COO.