Procore set out to find the companies, projects and individuals that stood out for their bold achievements in construction. Among the 27 outstanding finalists selected, nine were named winners of the 2023 Groundbreaker Awards. This article is the seventh in a nine-part series spotlighting each winner.
At Keen Project Solutions, safety is more than just a series of checkboxes to be ticked; it’s a commitment, a set of moral principles and an identity the entire company embodies. With its cutting-edge approach and dedication, Keen has established a standard in construction safety that remains unparalleled.
At the heart of Keen lies its four guiding principles: 1) protect people, 2) build relationships, 3) focus on end goals, and 4) drive innovation. Protecting people stands as a cornerstone.
“We want everybody to return home from work the way they went to work, both physically and mentally,” says Jeff Scandrett, Keen’s Director of Operations.
Keen’s journey offers a roadmap for any young construction firm: understanding the gravity of safety and treating it as an obligation to every stakeholder. With a clear understanding that safety isn’t just about the physical space, but also about the mental well-being of every worker, Keen has created a solid safety protocol and an incredible safety culture.
One cannot visit Keen’s office and remain unaffected by the ‘Keen Kids’ wall. The wall is dedicated to employees’ children and is meant to serve as a visual reminder of the importance of safety.
“We want to return back to our families, to these people who need us to come home safely. This wall is more than mere decoration; it’s a daily motivator, a reminder of who and what workers are working for,” shared Scandrett.
When establishing Keen, the company’s founders, all industry veterans, knew the importance of a safety-first culture, which inspired the Keen Project Delivery System. With this delivery system, safety remains paramount from the earliest stages of discovery to the final stages of reliability and maintenance.
Keen’s Project Delivery System Pillars
- Discovery: Harnessing the power of advanced 3D scanning, Keen captures the nuances of operating facilities, minimizing hazard exposure from the get-go.
- Engineering: Emphasis on detailed design, coupled with 3D modeling for work planning, mitigates the scope of errors and ensures optimal safety during project execution.
- Pre-Construction: Keen’s rigorous prequalification process for subcontractors ensures adherence to pre-determined safety metrics.
- Procurement: Recognizing that safety is a collective responsibility, Keen fosters an environment of continuous learning and proactive safety culture revitalization.
- Construction Management: With meticulous safety plans, audits, and daily safety routines, the company underscores its commitment to every individual’s safety.
- Trade Services: Keen’s in-house millwright apprenticeship program ensures that every trade personnel is well-equipped with the requisite safety knowledge and skill sets.
- Commissioning: This phase prioritizes clear communication, lockout procedures, and bilingual signage, ensuring there are no gaps in safety comprehension.
- Reliability and Maintenance: Keen ensures minimal improvisation and hazards during the project lifecycle by emphasizing equipment reliability and maintenance.
As projects kick-off, comprehensive measures like daily standup meetings, regular safety audits and the implementation of critical lift plans are utilized. In addition, Keen’s millwright apprenticeship program ensures that every worker is equipped with the necessary skills to operate safely.
Adherence to safety can be seen from the company’s recruitment process to its partnership choices, ensuring all stakeholders will uphold the same stringent level of cautionary diligence. In fact, Scandrett noted the relationships it forms with companies often inspire it to improve further, as some of these companies, “have even more stringent safety standards than we do.”
Harnessing Technology for Continued Improvement
Despite the plethora of safety initiatives, Keen acknowledges there’s always room for improvement. Its recent ‘Operation Zero’ campaign, designed to make employees understand they have the power to halt projects if they spot a safety concern, is a testament to this ongoing dedication.
“We haven’t had a recordable or a lost time injury in well over a year,” Scandrett proudly shared.
However, the company is wary of complacency, always striving to reinforce that every worker has a voice and the power to prioritize safety above all.
Incorporating technology has enabled Keen to bolster its safety measures. Using tools like Procore Inspections, the company identifies non-compliance issues and can spot trends through automated reports and dashboards.
“Now, we can do root cause analysis based on severity and prioritize what we dig into. We’ve agreed as a company that we’re going to take that to the next level — we want to start categorizing incidents by severity so that we can learn from them to help drive better behavior in the future,” explained Scandrett.
Keen doesn’t just see safety as a necessity, but as an identity. Scandrett’s advice to budding construction firms encapsulates Keen’s proactive stance on safety.
“Don’t just start thinking about safety when the shovels hit the ground because, at that point, it’s too late. A solid safety program is all about taking a step back to widen your perspective.”
In an industry where risks are inherent, companies like Keen are paving the way for a safer future.