We all agree safety is essential to a successful project. But how can you ensure you have the resources you need to predictably achieve consistent world-class safety?
It’s logical to treat safety just as you do your budget and schedule: (1) establish one owner of your project’s safety; (2) have one clear plan and strategy and communicate those to everyone; (3) audit the plan versus actual performance and dynamically modify it to address changing site conditions; and (4) do a post project review for future projects.
To manage your project safety in this manner, you need dedicated and qualified resources when, and only when, you need them much in the same way as you use craft and leadership by staffing up only for large projects.
In the past, most owners/operators relied upon each and every one of their mechanical contractors also to provide safety. But this resulted in a mish-mash of safety procedures and a clash of cultures. Today, you have the option of enlisting a specialized safety service to optimize the safety of your project. Here’s why it’s better: (1) you are more likely to get qualified, effective personnel; (2) they are more likely to be objective and aggressive about identifying unsafe acts or conditions which is critical to safety; and (3) it will lower your overall project cost.
Lower costs? Yes. Safety, done right, will actually improve your project’s budget and schedule performance. Conversely, poorly executed safety will result in incidents and crews on standby while unsafe conditions are corrected — decreasing productivity, increasing project cost and lowering morale. However, it is critical the safety personnel on your project know their craft and are highly effective at working with everyone on the project to get the work done safely. It is key they are objective in looking for, and addressing, unsafe acts and conditions. Ask yourself this, are you creating a conflict of interest by asking your mechanical contractors to perform QA/QC or safety oversight on their own personnel, especially if their contract is fixed price, or incentivized on budget or schedule performance?
One of the best ways to consistently achieve excellent safety performance (or budget and schedule performance) is to have one plan every person on the project is aware of, trained on and incented on. It is proven this approach encourages every person on the project to become a “safety person” on the lookout for unsafe acts and conditions. It is of upmost importance you minimize the negative impacts that result from multiple safety cultures working on a single project.
Most of us know “good” safety will improve the schedule and budget of a project. Much like any skilled craft, fewer, truly qualified safety personnel will deliver better results in less time. You can eliminate redundant safety personnel as you identify and mitigate unsafe work conditions.
Having a specialized safety contractor provide the resources you need to implement your project’s safety strategy is a positive step toward achieving consistent world-class project safety.
Bridging the gap between safety and productivity
Can you have it all? Can you achieve high levels of performance in safety, quality and cost/schedule control?
I believe the answer is yes. Most of the seasoned project managers we have worked with support this belief.
The question then becomes, where does safety fit into how you design, plan and execute your projects? Safety can be relinquished to a “necessary evil” of doing business versus an intricate leading discipline of how to do business.
Integrating safety, quality and cost/schedule control is not new. Best-in-class project management companies know all are entwined. To achieve excellent performance in one area, you must be excellent in all areas.
A constant and repeatable theme from my project/operations management experience is this: Projects finished on time and on budget performed above expectation with regard to safety and quality. Conversely, projects finished behind schedule and over budget performed below expectations with regard to safety and quality.
Why do so few projects get it right? The key is in how these areas are integrated during the pre-project design/planning phase as well as maintaining a common leadership group from pre-project design/planning through execution to closeout. Having a constant and unchanging presence from project design through closeout often is the missing link.
What if you utilized the project safety program as a catalyst for integration and continuity? By definition, and volume, a catalyst tends to be the smallest overall ingredient but also is the key for combining individual ingredients into a seamless mix.
Consider the following questions:
• What if you could obtain enough qualified safety resources to effectively implement your project safety plan on each project? Would that allow the project leadership to focus on their core competencies and increase the likelihood of achieving overall project success?
• What if the project safety team worked with the planning and execution staff to anticipate safety issues during the estimating and planning phases? Could you avoid safety related delays during execution?
• Rather than being “safety cops,” what if the project safety team had execution experience and developed a good relationship with your contractors? Would they work together to, proactively and collaboratively, avoid unsafe acts and conditions?
• Instead of just doing their job, what if the safety attendants performed their tasks in a manner that was focused on helping the craft personnel do their work safer and faster? Would craft productivity increase?
• What if the project safety team could augment and enhance your ability to generate timely and high quality permits?
The answer has been demonstrated to be yes. However, like achieving any other objective, bridging the gap between productivity and safety requires commitment, a plan, an owner and adequate qualified resources. A specialized safety contractor with experience, methods and personnel can help your project management team improve its safety, budget and schedule performance simultaneously.
Get better mileage from your safety program
In the early 1970s, gasoline mileage for cars in the United States was about seven miles per gallon, but a gallon of gas averaged just 36 cents. By 1979, gas prices had increased to around 86 cents per gallon. It was this pain at the pump that triggered auto manufacturers to give Americans what they clamored for — more mileage per gallon; seven miles to the gallon was no longer an option.
Cars from the 1970s are terribly inefficient by today’s standards and so are many business models of the 1970s due to changes in technology. In today’s economy, as in decades past, we are experiencing the effects of fiscal pain. But it is the pain that pushes us forward to transform the way we work so we get more mileage out of our business resources.
Lean is today’s reality. It forces us to work longer, harder and smarter. Companies spend huge amounts of time and energy focusing on internal improvement strategies, yet little focus is applied to external resources in the supply chain. External resources typically receive only a cursory review of the features and benefits they offer, and that is followed by a competitive bid process designed to push down the prices. Unfortunately, in many cases, total cost reduction and meaningful value will be sacrificed for less impactful front-end price reductions.
Our company’s core business is delivering safe projects. Although safety is our primary focus we are often asked to perform other roles that are one step away, but still related, to our core competency. Because of this, we have seen a definite connection between good safety practices and high levels of productivity in every phase of a project. In some cases, the return on investment in the form of cost avoidance has been greater than 400 percent. Workers performing safety functions on your project are vital. These crews are typically built around experienced multiskilled people. The level of value and impact they have on your project often only is limited by the work scope assigned to them. Unfortunately, plants often use just a fraction of the safety resource capabilities available to them. There is substantial value, real cost savings and more mileage to be had when:
• Every contract worker on the site understands the work plan, the critical path, their role and the expectations. This enables them to become truly productive as soon as they hit the ground.
• A proactive safety team is actively searching out, identifying and mitigating potential safety hazards to avoid incident, injury, work slow downs or stoppages.
• Manpower is managed in a way that supports direct craft labor eliminating task interference and standby time.
• Unit turnover and permitting are supported and streamlined thus eliminating slow downs and schedule losses.
If you need more mileage out of your project resources then remember, think in terms of value and total cost not just price. Also don’t just look at your internal resources. In many cases, the greatest gains can be found in your supply chain by just doing more with what you are already paying for.
For more information, call toll free at (800) 994-2339, email email@example.com or visit www.certifiedsafety.net.