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It can be like herding cats

Construction manager Richard Rook, of Laing O'Rourke, has a collection of picturesque phrases to describe his role at T5. Pub landlord is one. 'It's making sure all the projects are properly facilitated and that they can do their jobs in the most effective way - they have the ability to get the right materials, the right plant and the right personnel where they need them at the time demanded by the programme.

We call it production integration.'

Another strong image appears when he describes how he is the arbiter on site of who gets access to which part when and any boundary disputes between the various projects and suppliers. 'There are a lot of strong, demanding characters on this job, ' he says. 'It can be like herding cats.'

He and head of construction John Harden have to know to the millimetre exactly where the project is. Not least, Rook says, 'because there is no space to play with'.

He adds: 'The office we are based in is the only place not going to be built on by 2007.The rest has something on it, or under it or is being used for stockpiling. We have to know exactly what is going on and where people are so we can maximise the opportunities in variations to programme and sequence.'

Rook spends a large part of his week driving the safety agenda on the site. For 15 hours over three days once a month, he walks the site with T5 head of health and safety Mike Evans, looking at what is going on, then holds a safety forum.

'All the production leaders and their construction managers and safety advisers come to it and we tell them what we've seen. That's good and bad - we share what is working well but we also name and shame. We go through the hard numbers - the minors, near misses, significant incidents and take the learning from that.

'There's always a photo presentation of good and bad practice. And at the end we present a project safety award which is publicised in the site magazine and on the safety notice at the main gate.'

For 2004, Rook and head of operations Colin Reynell will be pursuing a similar strategy for quality. 'The pace of this job leaves no time for re-work.

We need to eliminate that and produce a first-class product first time. We are expecting world class performance here.'

'None of this is achievable by simply telling people - 'do it'. We set standards and expectations and provide the tools to help.'

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