Like racing automobiles, fast turn-around projects associated with constructing industrial and process control plants require a high degree of safety awareness. In construction, the need for safety is not necessarily continuously apparent – but when the pavement is whizzing by you at 200 mph, its importance can equate to life, serious injuries or even death.
With that in mind, Scheck Industries has experienced tremendous growth with President and CEO Richard Scheck’s sons an integral part of the senior executive team. For the last four years, Scheck Industries has sponsored personal appearances by NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer and his Cheerios racecar as the company’s official safety spokesperson. In the summer of 2010, Bowyer spoke to more than 1,300 employees of Scheck Mechanical Corp., Bechtel, ConocoPhillips and Cenovus Energy, who are building an expansion to ConocoPhillips’ Wood River Reﬁnery in Roxana, Ill. Scheck and Bechtel have partnered to build a new coker unit at the facility.
Scheck’s safety mantra and awareness campaign is not a one-time promotional tool. As a 49-year tradesman from Pipe Fitters Local Union No. 597 Chicago, Rich Scheck understands firsthand the challenges and importance of safety. “If we cannot perform a job in a safe manner, it won’t be done,” Scheck always says.
”The economy is tough, and hosting safety events are not cheap, but safety can never rest,” Scheck says. “A person can be hurt on the smallest of jobs or the largest of them. We cannot take them for granted, and we cannot let the economy dictate the directions we take to improve the safety of our projects.”
Safety is an ongoing investment and ever-evolving priority for the Scheck family. At another job site – the Hemlock Semiconductor plant in Saginaw, Mich. – Bowyer points out in his presentations to employees that the safety equipment he uses – such as fire suits, harnesses and helmets – are similar to what the construction workers wear.
The same campaign has been sent to Scheck projects at ConocoPhillips-Bayway and PSEG Power – both of which are in Linden, N.J. – to drive home the company’s safety message. Bowyer always emphasizes how crucial safety is to their respective professions.
“The sponsorship of Mr. Bowyer has paid dividends – he is a significant asset in communicating safety to everyone,” declares Joe Lasky, director of corporate safety, health and environment. “He starts to talk about comparing safety and the life-and-death hazards associated with being a professional driver, and then relates it back to our everyday work operations.” The commitment required to host such an event is a powerful reminder to employees how important the company considers its safety programs along with the personal well-being of every man or woman on the job.
Scheck Industries has successfully diversified into four companies with fabrication plants and offices in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, and it’s recently opened an office in Pennsylvania. Since opening its doors in 1984, the company has grown to be nationally recognized for its services, including process and power piping, industrial boilers, instrumentation systems, construction management and commercial service and HVAC systems, as well as constructing industrial facilities throughout the United States.
Scheck’s companies perform work for industries including petroleum refining, power generation, food and beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, pulp and paper, healthcare, commercial and institutional, and renewable energy.
“There’s a myriad of different situations that we get involved in because of the different customers’ locations,” Lasky notes. “Hazards range from minimal to serious, depending on which division of Scheck that we’re dealing with.”
Innovation: JAWS Talk
Hazards can stalk workers like a shark, so in 2008, Scheck Industries created its “Job Aids for Working Safely” (JAWS) program. It includes daily talks, weekly job aids that come with a quiz and alerts for quick action. The Mechanical Contractors Association of America named Scheck’s JAWS program the most innovative safety program in 2008.
The company’s safety philosophy began with Richard Scheck and is reinforced through his three sons – Rick, Michael, and Chris. “It all started with Rich Scheck,” Lasky says. “His philosophy for many years – even before I got here – was if the job isn’t safe, then don’t do it.
“Safety is more than a priority – it’s a value,” he adds. “Safety comes first, then quality, then cost, but right now, it’s even more than a priority – it’s valued by each and every one of the employees, especially the supervisors and the foremen. They are held accountable. The JAWS program increases accountability for safety in terms of what they do in the field.”
Safety has been paramount in all of the Scheck companies and it is backed up by the nearly 2 million work hours by Scheck entities without a lost time injury in the past two years. Scheck Industries has been the proud recipient of 24 safety awards over the last two years.