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It always begins with onboarding. Understanding that you’re setting the expectation early. The requirement, for lack of a better word, is that you treat the job site with respect and that you treat your fellow trade partners with respect and yourself and your work crew. It goes hand in hand with respect and trust, because you wouldn’t want to have your crew working inefficiently and unsafe in somebody else’s debris. It shows a lack of respect for your work, your workers, and the entire environment when you haphazardly leave the debris on the ground, whether its tools, or cords. You really want to have a clean floor that is uncluttered by all types of items so that you can freely traverse back and forth. That’s the concept.


So, starting onboarding we set the expectation early that this is the way we execute work on our project, that this is just the way it is. They start there, and then there are the worker orientations to help reinforce that. There’s a lot of visual management tools like 5S and nothing-hits-the-ground, and those aides along the way. Then as they begin to do their work and to mobilize on to the project the institution of “everything on wheels” has assisted in the organization of material. Nobody wants to have stacks of material laying around and they can easily move it. And that’s an easy one for trade partners to assimilate into their work, except for the initial costs of buying and procuring and managing the carts.

What all these things do, is it starts changing behaviors. We as an industry, like I said before, accept filthy conditions. So, a lot of the times when you have a trade partner that doesn’t understand about working in a clean environment it’s because his behavior, the way he was indoctrinated into the industry, is that that’s just the way it is. You must instill and reinforce from day one the behavioral change.

Sometimes, you must take more drastic measures. If I need be make the statement or stop the job, I’ll stop the work. Couple of years ago, for example, there are three hundred people working on the job frantically. It was more important to me that they worked in a clean environment, as they were starting to slip behind. So, we stopped, and all production was ceased for that day and everybody, foreman, general foreman and all the workers, all they did was clean the buildings. It was an extra level of reinforcement to every single craft on the job that this is the type of environment they should expect to work in. As days went by, eventually workers came to me individually and thanked me for doing that. At the time, they thought it was drastic, but they understood the value afterwards. So, it’s a continual process but you must stay the course. You must stay the course because once you allow one trade partner to work in his sloppy old fashion way and leaving debris, material, whatever it is, that’s clutter on the floor. It’s on the ground and it’s impeding work, and unless it’s mobile, should always go right into a trash can.




What are the stages involved in getting trade partners to adhere to the nothing-hits-the-ground policy?
  • First, through onboarding, you must set the expectation with all trade partners early.
  • The principle behind this is related to respect – respect for your crew, which translates to giving respect to others.
  • Worker orientation training helps to reinforce the message along with visuals and tools related to cleanliness.
In the empowered world of lean as the leader of the field operations, I am empowered to take whatever actions needed to speed up production. While I would say that my supervisor was a little bit taken aback, he understood the value of the statement and supported me 100 percent. There was never any internal questioning of did I make the right decision. I had earlier verbalized it with my assistant superintendents and they knew it was coming and they agreed. So, they helped institute it and bring it about.


How did I feel about stopping production? Well obviously, in my world, production’s everything. But sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. sometimes you have to take a step back, slow your work down, stop your work and PDCA, then take actions that will correct it. So, in the end, the goal was that I sped up production and once they were able to work in a less cluttered environment then they were able to work more efficiently. Henceforth our production sped up.

Generally speaking, I try not to stop production because you’re already fallen backwards and you want to be proactive and collaborative and transparent and respectful and the latter usually is the best way.

What is involved in stopping the work on a construction site?
  • As a field leader you have many responsibilities and are empowered to take action when necessary.
  • In a field leaders world, production is everything, so stop production if necessary to ensure it speeds up.
To all your trade partners out there that are listening or watching this I implore you to stop and think about worker safety first. How many times have you yourself tripped over anything anywhere? It begins there. You’re thinking about their safety.


Obviously it relates always to efficiency which we know if the more efficient you are, it always transcends to savings. But what I would implore you to do is before you come onto a Turner project is to study our building life program which is part of where our safety and our lean culture are intertwined. Nothing-hits-the-ground is based in the building life program. And it talks about the worker and once you study that and you then analyze your own workflow. You can ask, how do you mobilize a project? How does your material move about? How do you generate less debris on site? What measures can you take that are in your work stream, that you can change to provide you more efficiency and having less material, less equipment in the space so that you’re working in a less cluttered environment.

I think once you analyze your own work stream, you’ll find the waste, you’ll find the opportunities where you have extra material, or you’ll have other debris or it’s not located close to the debris boxes. Those are the types of things we learn, and it’s always a process.

What advice do you have for trade partners that want to prepare for a Lean construction project?
  • Stop and think about worker safety first.
  • Safety will translate to efficiency which later transcends to savings.
  • Nothing-hits-the-ground is an improvement for the worker and how they perform the work.
  • Then analyze your own work stream and look for the waste and opportunities to improve.