Safety Indicators in the Construction Industry
Safety indicators in the construction industry can be used to promote cost effective strategies and significantly improve safe practice on construction sites. The main purpose of using indicators is to track safety measure and adjust for continuous improvement in the construction process results. Many types of measurements are performed today that focus on monitoring and recording critical process and end results of construction projects to yield a better definition of key performance indicators. Finding performance indicators is important because they can be measured and compared to real work processes and focus attention on creating efforts to change the work environment into a high level safety zone. Many companies have taken notice of OSHA and their research findings gathered on construction. OSHA has made clear that a positive way to handle improving site safety is to follow safety performance indicators. OSHA has promoted a technique using positive reinforcements and indicators to produce a more forthcoming worksite. An effective way to measure the performance of safety on the work site as suggested by OSHA is using a systems performance metrics. In doing this OSHA has solved problems such as how to measure the safety performance and how to determine the necessary indicators. “To effectively manage anything, you must first be able to successfully measure it-safety is no different and indicators are only accurate for safety enhancement when they target the correct area.”(6) The safety metrics will be discussed later but first we must look at the elements that make up the metrics. The metric is designed to act like a formula. In this case the formula is balanced to equal incidents or accidents. On the other side of the equation are the leading indicators. For construction we look at four main indicators: Attitude of workers, project elements, physical conditions, and behavior. OSHA is trying to express that all accidents that occur in construction practice are almost always caused by at least one of indicating factors in the metrics. We know that safety can be improved with the application of leading indicators on a construction site by providing a safety risk measure. We will look at some construction leading indicators that have been researched in real a construction project. XL Construction was hired in 2003 as the general contractor to build Johnson & Johnson’s west coast facility in Fremont, California. The budget was $14 million to complete the 60,000 square foot project in 11 months. Johnson & Johnson has used indicator principles before but this was the first attempt for XL Construction. Johnson & Johnson presented the project team with a safety matrix and requested that the general contractor track leading indicators for the work. The metrics for the project defined a leading indicator as “preventative or proactive measures that are taken in order to decrease the possibility of an incident.”(2). Johnson & Johnson was reducing the likelihood of loss of project control, while increasing the projects safety. XL project managers used a program to collect and report data regarding safety incidences as they occurred on site as a measure of Johnson & Johnson’s provided indicators. All occurrences of non OSHA compliant actions were recorded to include date, subcontractor firm, nature of the required correction, and the corrective actions taken. Data was then sorted and made available by category, time, subcontractor, and repetition. The team was able to then address the information and focus on correcting the safety failures by implementing safety education to the employees. XL Construction used the performance metrics system and broke down the indicators into ten general safety program categories which all included multiple sub categories. The safety compliance was set forth using OSHA’s California regulations and all project corrections were...
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