Jim explains that preplanning is the key to implementing safety in construction. It allows you to properly consider safety quality and productivity in all tasks on your construction site.
- I've talked about moving away from that add-on approach of a separate job hazard analysis, and moving towards a more all-encompassing task analysis approach, an analysis that considers safety, quality, and productivity as equally important, and inextricably-linked components. The only way this works is to plan in advance. And again, I just think this is one area in the construction industry that we need to get better at. We need to change our approach and our way of thinking.
Let me use an example again, to explain my statement. I'm back as a consultant for one of my general contractor clients. And we have a contract to work at multiple remote sites for a government agency. Given the fact that our work was being performed inside of active facilities that needed to remain up and running, this agency was really involved in construction means and methods. One of the contract requirements from that owner was that a written hazard analysis had to be performed on virtually every task to be completed on the project.
These had to be submitted and approved way in advance of the work even being scheduled. Now predictably, this was like pulling teeth with our trade contractors, our subcontractors. The universal response from all of them was, "No, no, we do a JHA on site every morning, "out in the field. "We do that so that we can make sure "we take the day's field conditions into account. "We couldn't possibly do it in advance." Well, of course the problem here was that they were going to have to do it in advance, or they wouldn't even be let through the gate, so what commenced was this big struggle between all of the parties, with the trade contractors really just feeling like this was another useless contract requirement that was going to cost them time and money.
Now when I got involved, I took the approach of trying to get them to take a look at the request from a different perspective. All of these jobs, remember, were in remote locations. We really just wanted to see that they had each looked at all of their tasks and planned them out in advance, based on the actual, site-specific conditions, so that they could come up with a plan of attack that would be safe, and productive, and get the job done according to plans and specs. I tried explaining that part of the challenge on these projects was the fact that if they arrived on site unprepared, if they brought the wrong tools or they didn't have the correct safety equipment to tie off, for example, the work was going to be shut down, and then we would lose a day or two in the schedule because they couldn't just run down the street to get what they didn't bring.
Now unfortunately, what most of them did was they generated what I would call the generic job hazard analysis, the one that says something like, "Well, we're going to use a ladder "to install this light fixture, "and here are the hazards of working on a ladder." Or one of the more specific ones was, "We're going to use a powered scissor lift "to install the drain line from the roof "down the outside of the building, "and here are the hazards of working on a scissor lift, "and then here's what we're going to do about those hazards." They were taking that safety as an add-on approach, where they asked their safety person to generate these JHAs without really sitting down, like I've talked about, and analyzing their work, to consider safety, quality, and productivity as a whole.
On the scissor lift issue, I questioned if this was actually the right piece of equipment for the job, based on what I remembered about the height of the building and the uneven terrain where they were going to be required to work. And I also pointed out that the JHA didn't seem to take into account the fact that this work was going to be done adjacent to a high-voltage switching station. Of course they responded in protest, stating that the JHA was appropriate for working from a scissor lift, and they felt they had fulfilled their contractual requirements.
In a sense they were right. They did complete a JHA, it identified the hazards of working on a scissor lift, so the general contractor passed it through and let the work start. Now to me, predictably, what happened next is that they delivered the scissor lift to the crew on the site, and then they struggled to try and maneuver that scissor lift into place with no level ground to set up on. And when they did that, it leaned dangerously toward that electrical switching station. So they got shut down for two days while they worked to get the correct piece of equipment sent out to the job site.
My point here is that pre-planning doesn't work when safety is an add-on. If they would have looked at the task to be completed, with someone who had actually been on the site, and approached it from the standpoint of: what's the safest and most productive way to do the work shown on the plans, they could have shown up with the correct piece of equipment and been ready to do the job. They would have actually saved time and money. By the way, I'm not saying to drop that daily hazard analysis exercise either.
That's still a very good thing to do at the start of each shift, since conditions change on site so often. It helps to ensure that your upcoming activities align with your plan, and that everyone understands what's expected, and reviews safe practices for that particular day. But the crews at the work site still need that master plan, that pre-plan task analysis to refer to, so that they have what they need before they get there. Otherwise, they will tend to make do with what they have, and that can lead to disaster.
Throughout this course, Jim highlights some of the most notable safety and health hazards in the industry—including fall hazards, traffic accidents, and respiratory hazards—and shares strategies for integrating safety, quality, and productivity. He also explains how to leverage technological advancements such as digital drawings to help your team work safer and smarter.
- Recognizing health hazards in the industry
- Integrating safety, quality, and productivity
- Creating a culture of learning
- Recognizing leading indicators
- Using digital solutions to improve safety
- Using BIM to identify hazards early