At this point, the project team leveraged another lesson learned during
preliminary studies: Keep workers safe and satisfied. On several reference
projects, conflicts with labor unions and lost time caused by injuries had
caused significant delays.
The project’s timing posed an additional hurdle, as construction was
underway while an unpopular labor reform law was being implemented
across Quebec. To stay on good terms with unions, the team employed a
full-time labor relations expert early in the project and established a steering committee designed to respond quickly to labor-related concerns.
The team also faced a significant health and safety challenge. In Quebec,
the construction industry’s annual average lost time injury frequency rate
(LTIFR) between 2003 and 2009 was 23. 5. That means that for every 100
workers in Quebec, nearly 24 workers lost time because of an injury. The
project team was emphatic: It had to do better.
“The biggest challenge was changing the culture,” Mr. Noël says. “You
need to get people to stop tolerating dangerous situations.”
The team members focused on the human element when communi-
cating the need for raising safety standards. They asked workers to look
out for themselves—and their friends—by taking a moment to review the
risks each time they started a new activity. This helped workers identify
“Often, it’s a very simple thing. It’s just taking five minutes,” Mr. Noël
says. “We changed the idea that because it was done a certain way for the
last 50 years, you have to work that way.”
By putting safety top of mind, the project team was able to achieve a LTIFR
of . 27, which means only one worker per hundred was injured every four years
on the project. This safety record—a 99 percent reduction of the construction
industry average—didn’t just set a new standard for RTA projects. It left a mark
“The greatest thing about the AP60 project was the health and safety record,”
Mr. O’Connor says. “It’s been a game changer for the construction industry and
STRETCHING THE SCOPE
The project’s strong health and safety performance helped fortify the team’s relationship with unions and keep the initiative on track—even when the sponsor asked
to increase the scope halfway through the execution phase.
RTA requested the CA$75 million scope change in July 2011, when the company
didn’t want to miss out on rapid growth in the aluminum industry. Rather than lose
valuable production time during an expansion project at a later date, RTA wanted
to roll the increase into phase one.
Mr. Charron asked the team to honestly assess the project plan to see if the
increase was feasible. The request was coming during the most complex phase of
execution; an increased scope could put the project at risk.
“If the team had said, ‘No, that’s not a good deal. We will jeopardize the whole
project,’ I would have said okay, we’re not going to do it,” he says. “But they said,
‘We can do it—but this is what we’re going to need.’”
In November 2011, the team added one month to the schedule and revised the
project plan, leveraging as much base work as possible to minimize delays and cost
n January 2007:
n November 2011:
n May 2009: RTA
decreases its short-
term investment in
the project due to the
n December 2010: The
project team receives
full notice to proceed.
n July 2011: RTA requests
a CA$75 million in-
crease in scope.
The scope increase is
n December 2012: The
project team hands
the plant over to the
n December 2013: