Project owners face variety of risks while undertaking a project. Apart from being concerned about the potential risks to their employees, they need to take extreme care of the risks a contractor bears. Although safety stands critical due to multiple reasons such as welfare of employees, providing a safe work environment and controlling costs, its importance as a cost-controlling measure is often overlooked by the owners and the contractors.
Active participation with contractor teams
Owners have the absolute right to mandate that a quality safety program be an important part of the selected contractor’s culture. But, owners sometimes hesitate and feel that they are interfering with the contractor’s way of doing business if they express concerns over safety at a jobsite.
Project owners aim for successful completion of a project withing the estimated costs and the contractor needs provides means to achieve this; while generating employment. Neither one can be successful without the other.
Although it takes a little more effort for the owner to become a part of the process, this involvement is rewarded with a smooth-running, low-stress, on-time, and on-budget project. Without participation in the process, the owner is passively giving control to the contractor – along with increased risks, project owners will often spend more time struggling to cope with the challenges rather than ensuring meeting of expectations.
Under ideal and effective conditions, they should start viewing the contractor as a partner. Poor safety compliance increases the owner’s risks and inflates the final costs of a completed contract – these final costs must be factored into the decision-making process.
Pre-project and Pre-task planning, with an owner actively engaged, is the simple process of getting the leadership team together to discuss how the project will be carried out in accordance with the contract. Every phase is examined – including project overview, task planning, materials/supplies, risk management, safety and subcontractor management.
Safety is planned into the job as an integral part of the operation instead of something that is used only when it is necessary. For example, if a risk is identified, a plan is developed for the protection of the people who have access to site vicinity. The plan should include both site risk management and public risk management – which include tools, materials, and labour costs, design, engineering, and scope required to install the proper protection.
This is where the site-specific safety programs are developed and various types of training programs are selected based on the specific tools, materials, access, tasks, and equipment that will be used in the project. Through safety training programs, management expectations for safety can be effectively conveyed to the concerned. Demonstrations that allow employees to participate in the process prevent risks from manifesting on the jobsite.
It reduces the owner’s risks because the contractor, working with the owner’s involvement, will consistently complete the project on schedule, proper budget, and with the quality anticipated.
Setting and monitoring safety goals
Be it measuring results or activities, monitoring safety-related activities such as Job Safety Analysis, near-misses, incident reporting, site and equipment inspection and safety audits facilitate accountability, responsibility, and authority for safety. A contractor management software has tools that provide such metrics, extend visibility to higher corporates, thereby making safety an integral part of employee tasks.
Once focused on safety goals, workers become more productive, efficient, and effective, as well as safer and aware of the risks associated.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspects of owners and contractors working together in a joint-venture safety program is that it provides for the safety, health, and well-being of the employees and other people who live and work in or around the project.