Urgent Alert

Ensuring powerhouse project success through meaningful tailboard meetings

Date: April 01, 2023
woman working on laptop

Once all the estimating, scope-adjusting, negotiating, and ultimately signing of your high voltage construction and maintenance contract is complete, the eagerness to get the “A” team assembled and materials secured becomes the focus of many plant and facility managers. Rightfully so, in an era of abundant resource constraints and higher employee turnover across so many industries. The uncertainties that loom within the folds of project planning are increasing exponentially; any proactive measure implemented can be the determining factor if project milestones are achieved timely.

Much like mixing a proper batch of cement or mortar, a specific blend of ingredients, matched with atmospheric elements, are stirred over time in order to produce the right consistency. In a similar fashion, a strong tailboard is made up of similar components, and will act as the bedrock beneath a project. Without the proper foundation through a humble, convicted approach when it comes to the safety culture that manifests from tailboards, a project is made vulnerable to delays and injuries.

1. Get the team excited about the project by creating a theme.

It is easy to get locked into the mentality that a tailboard is merely a daily check-in of sorts, and thus it is not necessary to plan how those on-site meetings should look. In the preliminary phases of a project, it is integral to come up with a theme behind the tailboards, all predicated on breeding safety-conscious actions by team members who constantly observe the changing environmental aspects of a job. We’ve found that creating a theme, or branding behind the project, helps with team adoption of the message and makes it easier to remember/apply actively on the job.

2. Assign leading-roles based on each team member’s expertise.

Once the theme is established, it is important to look at the human capital on your team and draw out the figurative diamonds that exist. Every team member has a different journey, via experiences, education, residence, and this all serves as a strengthening mechanism to the tailboards. Draw upon those individuals and experiences to provide texture to the tailboards. Encourage those individuals to share how past projects were successful, or even derailed, based on how well the tailboards were maintained and purposefully conducted. Different people focus on different things when walking a site, therefore setting a tone early on looking to one another’s journey brings not only camaraderie, but enhanced awareness and ownership among all team members.

3. Encourage speak-up culture.

Using the earlier cement and mortar analogy, a good batch is pliable and able to work into the prescribed framing or footing. This is reflective of the preceding approach of laying the tailboard foundation; fueling a team with meaningful content, without the fear of reprisal, allows them to look more intently into their actions and the impacts upon the project. It takes courage to speak up, as well as courage to not be offended when someone caringly points something out. In conclusion, setting a communication standard from the start will cause positive reverberating effects.

4. Regardless of project type, lean heavily upon tasks performed, cell phone usage, and vision impediments during tailboards.

The final hour inherently causes a “gear shift” in an employee, as they are beginning to frame up their departure and the happenings after work. We encourage no new tasks are started, or a rush to finish a task where it assumed that “I only need 15 more minutes to wrap this up.” This methodology promotes smooth transitions and reduces the probability of inadvertent exposures. Whether it’s torquing a connection to the required specification or cleanly terminating a wire, operating in a mental capacity that is not rushed or under duress is a must.

Regarding cell phone usage, this is becoming a more prolific topic with each passing project. Developing a designated area for phone conversations, where employees are removed from the path of moving equipment and operating tools, is imperative. Through observation, we’ve noticed that humans move around during calls and lose track of their surroundings. Eliminating the opportunity for cell phone-related injuries is crucial, as it a constantly used tool in our line of work.

The preceding ties together well with vision impediments. In the absence of a spotter, reminders to operate forklifts/platform lifts with the forks/platform low enough so there is no drag while having the clearest vantage point as possible, is paramount on the job site.

Safety cannot never be stressed enough, and it is critical to keep it fresh and relevant. Avoiding the “check box” mentality takes forward thought and vigilant upkeep. Should you seek to enhance your safety program or have a project consideration we can support, such as substation maintenance/ construction or arc flash studies, please reach out to me at Nicholas.Domich@pge.com. We look forward to serving your company.