his search beyond Kentucky—a risk the team anticipated, because of its early labor and talent studies.
“The risk with traveling workers is that they might
find work closer to home [and leave the project]—
something you have to plan for,” he says.
Creating a strong work safety culture also
required unifying a team of people from five different companies—including subcontractors who
had been competitors—around a shared vision, Mr.
“When I came on-site, it was more of a take-a-
risk type culture than one of compliance and being
your brother’s keeper,” he says. “We had to work
pretty hard for the buy-in from our craft to our
Getting everyone to agree that safety was a prior-
ity required senior leaders to increase their visibility
on-site. And he personally attended training ses-
sions with new members to ensure the importance
of safety was being clearly communicated.
“I wanted a culture where people could stop the
work if they suspected something was about to go
wrong, where they had a questioning attitude in
order to avoid those incidents,” he says. “There was
no reason we shouldn’t be at zero accidents.”
Mr. Omichinski also brought in a third-party
company that specialized in mergers, which
he says encouraged accountability and helped
teams set and share common goals, such as
creating a seamless transition from the con-
struction team to the startup and systemization
teams. From senior leadership all the way down
to junior associates, he says, it was important
everyone felt they were part of a mission to con-
trol chemical weapons.
The hands-on approach produced real results.
By the end of 2015, during peak construction and
systemization, there had been only four recorded
work accidents—an 82 percent decrease from
the single-year project high of 29 in 2012. And
as of February 2016, all construction except for
the static-detonation chamber was complete and
systems testing was 45 percent complete. That
means facility operations should begin on time,
and the United States will be one step closer to
full compliance with the international treaty—
and destroying its last stockpile of chemical
weapons, Mr. Brubaker says.
“Eliminating chemical weapons means a safer
community and world.” PM
—Jeff Brubaker, Blue
Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant,
Richmond, Kentucky, USA
“I wanted a
work if they
was about to
—Douglas Omichinski, PMP
Jeff Brubaker briefs
visitors on progress..