When it comes to health and safety, the continuous improvement mindset is essential. One person’s willingness to question the status quo can have a huge positive impact on the team, the company, and beyond.
Here are three stories from Ferrovial that show that show what can happen when employees are encouraged and empowered to speak up and take action.
Always Safe, Always Ready Protocol Saves the Day in one road in the US
Around 10 pm, a roadway maintenance supervisor went to monitor the roadwork being carried out by a subcontractor.
When he saw that one of the subcontractor’s employees had single-handedly closed a lane with a simple line of eight cones, alarm bells started ringing in his head.
The Department of Transportation requires that a number of measures be applied when closing a lane. One of these is setting up a truck mounted attenuator (TMA), a shock-absorbing device that protects both drivers and workers from accidents on the road. TMAs are usually accompanied by a large flashing arrow board to alert drivers to the lane closure.
When the supervisor saw that eight cones were the only things keeping drivers from crossing into the closed lane, he immediately took action and halted the lane closure then and there.
According to the Always Safe, Always Ready protocol, all employees have the authority to stop a situation they believe could be dangerous. The maintenance supervisor may very well have saved lives that night thanks to his quick reaction.
Changing Regulations to Keep Colombia’s Highways Safe
While working on a project in Colombia, some employees realized there was a problem with their workwear.
The beige coveralls with reflective strips made them highly visible at night, but difficult to see during the day. The beige color blended in with the surrounding environment.
The solution to this problem was clear: redesign the workwear to make it highly visible during the daytime as well as the night.
However, the solution was not easy to implement because all road workwear is regulated by Colombia’s National Infrastructure Agency (ANI for its abbreviation in Spanish). Any changes had to be approved by the agency.
After four months and many meetings to explain and justify the proposed change, the new workwear was approved. Furthermore, it was included in the ANI manual, making the newly designed high-visibility workwear required for all infrastructure teams nationwide starting the following year.
The Ruta del Cacao project began implementing the new workwear as soon as it was approved by the ANI, making it Colombia’s first infrastructure project to use the new fluorescent yellow coveralls and high-visibility orange helmets.
And that’s not the only health and safety initiative spearheaded by Ferrovial’s highways team. A few months ago, they decided to incorporate a truck mounted attenuator (TMA) to keep road workers even safer.
These are among the many employee-led actions that have made the Ruta del Cacao project a pioneer when it comes to health and safety in Colombia.
A Not-So-Perfect Storm at an Airport
A complicated project was being carried out on two of the runways at the airport.
Because each runway could only be closed for 6 hours at a time, every procedure had to be perfectly planned down to the last minute. Each night, 90 people and 50 vehicles would set up and prepare to quickly access the runway as soon as it was closed.
On one particular night, nerves were running higher than ever. The client’s Head of Development was there for a special visit and would be observing the team’s operations.
As usual, the team checked in with the Meteorological Office and Airfield Duty Manager to ensure that weather conditions would not affect the work planned for that night.
The report indicated a 50% chance of thunderstorms, which could put any personnel on the runway in danger. Furthermore, if weather conditions caused variations in the quality or pace of the planned work, that could affect the functioning of the runway the following morning (and therefore the safety of all the aircraft that would land on it or take off from it).
The team’s liaison officer decided to call off the work for safety reasons.
While it may seem like an easy decision to make, it certainly didn’t seem so at the time. The important visit from the client, the number of resources prepped and in position, and the lack of clouds in the sky made many question the decision.
Nevertheless, the liaison officer held firm. All work was canceled for the night.
These are the types of decisive and potentially life-changing actions at the heart of the Always Safe, Always Ready protocol. If the situation arises, each and every employee has the power to help make the world a little bit safer.