The IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program, ITRP, reached another significant milestone last month, surpassing more than 1 million manhours since its inception in 2015. A recent review of ITRP safety statistics with Malcolm “Mac” Legault, ITRP safety manager, noted that the recordable incident rate is an outstanding 0.17.
“The industry average is 3.1,” Legault said, “but the standard we aspire to every single day is zero.”
He said the incident rate is calculated based on multiplying 100 people working the average work year of 2,000 hours for each individual—200,000 hours.
“Then we multiply the number of incidents by 200,000,” he said, “and divide it by the actual man-hours worked.”
Legault said he recognized a lot of the previous ITRP work has been design, but he pointed to the completed Infrastructure Division Office, the demolition of Terminal Old C North, and demolition of the garage helix and the bridge going across it as substantive construction efforts with no injuries.
Success has been possible due to one secret ingredient: working together.
“Everyone has to work in sync with one another – we all have to communicate, coordinate and work together,” he said. “There is a tremendous amount of coordination that must occur with owners, contractors, subcontractors and all others associated with the program.”
Legault was complimentary of Houston Airports’ emphasis on a strong safety culture. Indicative of that are regular training classes held at the Infrastructure Division Office.
Houston Airports Chief Infrastructure Officer Bob Barker recently discussed those classes.
“We initiated a unique partnership with local community colleges, known as the Houston Airports Construction Education Collaborative to provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration training, and ultimately construction trades training, to all construction employees engaged in work on our major capital projects,” Barker said.
“All construction employees when they mobilize on a project have either already completed requisite OSHA training or are afforded the opportunity to complete the OSHA training on the IAH airport campus at no cost to the employee. A strong and vibrant construction safety program, while improving the health and well-being of each employee, is quite simply the right thing to do for both the individual employee and the business owner.”
Legault concurred wholeheartedly.
Construction workers are required to attend the OSHA-sanctioned 10-hour construction class that covers such topics as trench safety, ladders, fall protection, electrical safety, pinch points, awareness, and the rights one has within OSHA. At the end of the training, there is an additional two-hour HACEC orientation on the roles regarding security, safety, badging, and working at the airport.
He was quick to add that OSHA regulations are minimum standards that Houston Airports goes beyond.
The ITRP lost-time incident rate is 0.00, the highest achievable metric. The lost-time incident rate is an OSHA metric that calculates the number of incidents that result in time away from work.
Legault is a certified safety professional, a certified construction health and safety technician, and has a Ph.D. with a specialty in Occupational Safety and Health from Penn State University. His past work experience includes teaching at Indiana State University and serving as safety director for the Great Hall rebuild at Denver International Airport. During his tenure at Denver International Airport, more than 65 million ticketed travelers went through the airport with no incidents.
Safety he said, cannot be undervalued. The Houston Airports safety culture excels because it is a commitment to excellence that starts at the top, from management who set the appropriate tone, through staff.
“A safety culture,” he said, “has to be resistant to being complacent and has to demand personal accountability, among other attributes,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has set the stage for organizations and individuals to be even more mindful of safety. Wearing masks properly, utilizing signage, installing plexiglass sneeze guards, and enforcing social distancing are all important factors to keep ourselves and others safe, he said.
With contractors that include two Construction Managers at Risk (Hensel-Phelps and the Austin-Gilbane Joint Venture), one Design-Build Contractor (Burns and McDonnell), and many other contractors and subcontractors, Legault stressed how important coordination is in maintaining an effective safety program on the ITRP.
“There is so much that goes into it – and everyone matters if the Program is to be successful. There is nothing that is worth doing that will get you hurt,” he said.
‘My hat is off to the many contractors who do a great job. This is Houston – the heat index has been over 100 but they still follow the rules and wear their masks outside in the elements. They are highly dedicated to working safely.”
He also said there are humorous moments, even for a Safety professional with more than three decades worth of experience.
“I have found myself more than once leaving a socially distanced desk and putting on my safety glasses instead of my mask,” he said.
“But I go right back and put it on. We need to wear our masks properly over our noses and mouths and we must continue to protect ourselves, our families, and others.”
He knows what he’s talking about.
In 2017, Legault was named American Society of Safety Professionals Construction Safety Professional of the Year.
He enjoys the work and clearly enjoys making a difference. He talked about an exercise that the CMARs conduct each morning at 7 a.m. upon starting the workday.
“Stretch and flex,” he said.
“What sometimes gets lost or even unrecognized is that these men and women are professional athletes,” he said. “They are getting paid to perform physical work. They start the day with a physical stretch and flex exercise. The more flexible you are and the stronger your tendons, the likelihood of becoming injured is reduced.”
After the moments of stretch and flex, the team talks about the tasks at hand for the day, associated hazards and what corrective actions need to be taken.
“By working together safely, workers are not worried about going home injured, but can concentrate on the work and perform that work with a quality level that will make one proud,” he said.