Guide to Construction Risk Assessment | Construction

Source: A Guide to Construction Risk Assessment

Construction risk assessment is a real challenge as part of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration role. There are over 4,500 work-related fatalities in the United States every year. So, you would think that the days of pen and paper to manage risk, safety and health are gone? Well, they are for most industries. However, the construction industry has been slow to change towards online digitization. This can be part of the reason why the industry has a poor productivity record. Relying on spreadsheets, pen and paper makes it difficult to keep track of everything. The loss of transparency of the building process happens when all the information required is not accessible all in one place.

In a modern business, using paper to manage business processes and deliverables like risk management reports, material and equipment procurement, scheduling, drawings, and plans, as well as equipment logs and daily progress reports is not the most efficient way to manage that side of a construction business. Moving towards digitization, gives the business more consistent, better outcomes. It gives everyone involved transparent access to information sharing. Without this access, all stakeholders can work from a different version of the truth. This can cause misunderstandings, disagreements, mistakes and delays.

Using paper makes it difficult to capture real data for analysis. This can be crucial to your budget, and goods and services procurement. And, it puts the project and your business at risk. In an interconnected world, risk assessment is an area the industry has not yet embraced.

Construction work is high risk, so risk assessments are fundamental to the construction process. While using software to complete online risk assessments should be a normal part of the process, the industry is stuck in the past. Using paper-based methods is time consuming, costly and put the project and your business at greater risk. Surely, you are already busy enough dealing with the day-to-day operations out on the road. Does paperwork get pushed aside for more important things? Risk assessment software can help you remain competitive, and save you money and time. It can value-add to your business.

Importance of risk assessment

According to the United States Department of Labor, More than 4,500 workers die on the job each year with specialty trade contractors at most risk.  All employers, regardless of industry must, by law, conduct risk assessments in the workplace. And, records of these are kept safely stored. Construction business operators may find this daunting or complicated. But, it does not need be this way. Completing a risk assessment is looking at anything in the workplace that could cause employees or visitors harm. This allows processes and procedures to be put in place to minimize the risk. This is more time-consuming in the construction industry as you can work on many work sites. With the changing conditions, you may have to often update the risk assessment and plan.

What is risk assessment?

Risk assessment is a method a business or employer uses to:

  • Identify hazards. Identify, report and categorize risks and hazards that can cause harm. This involves observing the work site to check for potential hazards. Consult workers and other stakeholders, review previous risk assessments to get a clear picture of risks on site.

  • Complete risk analysis and evaluation. Analyze and evaluate the risks involved with each hazard:

    • Risk analysis. Risk analysis is the process of identifying hazards and establishing the level of risk for each one based on the likelihood of it causing an accident (see Table 1). It accounts for those things in a project that may occur, with a probability ranging from 1 to 99 percent. You need to determine and rank the likelihood of all of the risks relevant to a project or work site.

    • Risk evaluation. Risk evaluation is when the risk is measured against set criteria (see Table 1) to work out the implications or consequences of the risk (see Table 2). Risks usually constitute a negative impact. The magnitude of this varies depending on the situation of your organization, and the resources and money invested in the project.

  • Plan risk control. Bases on the risk analysis and evaluation, put processes in place to control or eliminate risks and hazards. This can include ongoing monitoring the situation, revising and ensuring decisions are carried out. You can agree on risk priorities with your client and the relevant stake holders, if the project is relatively small. For larger projects, you need a more structured approach to the prioritization, to ensure the decisions are objective. Risks in the construction industry change as the job site changes. So, to remain compliant with health and safety laws, complete risk assessments for each new work site.

Good risk assessment software can simplify this process so you can stay on top of workplace risks and hazards. Risk assessments identify who is at risk, and help you to plan ways to prevent accidents.

Make sure you include all relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process and communicate the risk assessment plan with workers and subcontractors.

Table 1 Risk Assessment Analysis

 

Dynamic risk assessment

In a busy world, all a construction manager wants is more time. There is no such thing as downtime, with piles of paperwork to complete if not out on the construction site. Lack of time usually puts the paperwork at risk. This can see risk assessments forgotten, lost or filed away. These can be time consuming to carry out, to plan and implement controls. Pushing aside risk assessments puts workers, visitors, and yourself and business at risk.

Good risk management software offers a dynamic risk assessment process that allows continual identification of hazards and risks. This makes them visible so you can take action to reduce or eliminate risks. It also involves monitoring and reassessing the fast-changing circumstances on a construction site. Because of the nature of construction sites, risks and hazards are a moving target and constantly evolve. A site manager needs eyes in the back of their head to keep on top everything. It is time for the construction industry to embrace technology to minimize the time spent on managing risk assessments. This helps keep everyone’s mind on the job.

With the mobility of today’s technology, download risk assessment software onto a smartphone or tablet. This capability makes it convenient and fast to capture new hazards as they arise. No more paperwork, so more time to spend doing more important things. No one likes doing paperwork.

Connectivity is low-cost, even using handheld devices. With the choice of so many new Cloud-based technologies, easy to setup, even for use even on remote construction sites. It is worth investigating how risk assessment software can help you and your construction crew.

So, what are you waiting for? Get connected. Turn tedious, time-consuming vital jobs around. Investigate moving your construction business towards digitization.

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