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Wilhlem lends knowledge to national construction association

kerker-300-webWhen Wilhelm Operations Manager Tom Kerker began his career in construction thirty years ago, he did not foresee himself contributing to a major construction safety research initiative and improving the entire engineering and construction industry as a result. However, in 2015, Tom is part of one such research team, working together with other members of the Construction Industry Institute (CII).

“The basis of the research project revolves around one deceptively simple question,” Kerker explained. “Can a sustainable step change in safety performance be achieved through an enhanced culture of rigorous operational discipline, also known as performance excellence? In other words, can we achieve operational excellence in safety by ensuring we do the right thing, the right way, and every time – even when no one is watching?”

Based at The University of Texas at Austin, CII is a consortium of more than 130 leading owner, engineering-contractor, and supplier firms from both the public and private arenas. A learning organization with a wealth of knowledge and information, CII is unique in the engineering and construction industry. Its purpose, “to measurably improve the delivery of capital facilities”, is accomplished by educating industry professionals about best practices spanning all areas of engineering and construction.

“It is gratifying to play a role in eliminating injuries in the workplace,” said Kerker. “The members of our research team are from a variety of backgrounds, but we all share in the goal of building a safety model that will be an effective tool for the entire industry.”

Kerker has been an active contributor to CII since 2013, and serves on the 317th research project conducted by the industry-leading organization.

“Phase one of our efforts was a two-year commitment,” Kerker explained. “By carefully examining the practices of our industry’s safest companies, we will provide practical how-to resources we can all employ to advance our companies to zero-injury.”

Several safety drivers being investigated include employee engagement, training and competence; risk awareness, management, and tolerance; human performance; transformational leadership; and shared values, beliefs and assumptions.

The work conducted to date has been so successful that CII has requested Kerker’s team further its research into the next phase, which requires additional focus through 2017.

Kerker finds it satisfying that after two years of work, CII has asked the team to advance to phase two research. “There is no question that this work is worth the time. This work is valued by the top industrial owners and contractors worldwide,” he said.

Kerker says he hopes he can bring best practices for continuous safety improvements back to Wilhelm Construction and its affiliate companies through this process.

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