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Fatalities and occupational injuries and illnesses undermine the stability, resilience and performance of construction businesses. These adverse outcomes take skilled workers out of the resource pool; they require augmentation with potentially less experienced personnel; and they undermine the confidence of workers who expect their health and wellbeing on the job to be safeguarded.

Prevention of these adverse outcomes requires construction executives to set a clear expectation of zero-accident performance during all construction operations and hold subcontractors to the same standard. Second, prevention requires project managers to possess essential safety expertise so they can take responsibility for safe work performance at their sites.

This can be challenging. The continually changing conditions and activities during site construction operations, coupled with geographically dispersed and simultaneously active construction sites, demand effective scaling of safety resources to support zero-accident work performance.

While construction companies often establish standards for safe work practices, business operations are not always prepared to address unforeseen conditions. Significant efficiency is gained, and worker protection is better ensured, when a mechanism exists to capture safety solutions developed at site-level operations that are then shared across the company for use at other geographically dispersed sites where the same or similar challenges are likely to emerge.

As such a mechanism evolves within a construction business, the sharing of solutions and experiences matures into collaboration among peers that leverages the best of what the company’s leaders and workers have to offer on behalf of the safety of the entire team.

An opportunity for effective scaling of safety resources can be found in the area of job hazard analysis (JHA). In general, a JHA is a systematic process for:
  • clarifying the scope of the job to be performed;
  • analyzing each work step necessary to successfully complete the job;
  • identifying potential hazards associated with each work step; and
  • prescribing hazard controls to mitigate risk. 
An effective JHA requires the involvement of workers who have the hands-on experience performing the work and a unique understanding of the associated hazards, and a safety professional who leverages skills in hazard recognition and control, as well as compliance management. 

However, a key challenge is ensuring that essential safety expertise is available to project managers every time and every place it is needed. While there is no substitute for onsite support, new technology can help provide effective support.

For example, cloud-based JHA tools are gaining ground in helping construction companies scale limited safety resources. Through the use of wireless smart devices, subscribers to cloud-based JHA tools can develop and manage a company’s entire library of JHAs from the hood of a truck at the construction site or from their desk anywhere in the world.

Such systems enable construction safety managers to monitor the quality and consistency of JHAs. And, they enable JHA authors and developers to collaborate on a common platform with their colleagues while accessing a company’s library of existing JHA content  developed for the same or similar jobs. 

Terence Douglas is president of Alliant Corporation. For more information, email tadouglas@alliantcorp.com or visit jobhazardanalytics.com.

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