Chapter Corner

A Safe Job Site Is a Productive Job Site

Posted in: Features, May/June 2016

A safe job site is a productive job site. Any injury on the job site not only eliminates the injured worker’s output, but it also affects other workers performance while they attend to the injured worker and the aftermath of the injury. Safety is not only an economical but also an emotional issue on any job site.

Few processes and tools assure both safety and productivity simultaneously. Agile Construction®, which is based on the application of ASTM Standard E2691, was developed with productivity and safety in mind over twenty years ago. One of the main features of an Agile Construction® site is its requirement of laying out and planning the daily, weekly, and long-term job activities. Due to the attention to the detail during the development of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), job layout and planning automatically improves safety on the job site and reduces unforeseen incidents. Reduction of emergencies and firefighting – the top contributors to unsafe job sites and often occur due to lack of planning – during the project will help reduce the incidents and accidents on a well-planned job site.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a 64 percent reduction in fatal and nonfatal injuries between 1992 and 2014 in the construction industry. The intense attention to safety on job sites is paying off. Insurance, absenteeism, and lost time are all part of the safety picture for contractors. Collaboration between contractors, electricians, general contractors, and distributors to create safe environments can help improve everyone’s bottom line. In addition to the fact that a safer job site is a better work environment, safety also contributes to higher productivity. Improved safety will increase the time spent on installation and project progress. Hand in hand with attention to safety, attention to productive activities will improve safety due to reducing wasted movements and unplanned activities.

Safety Data

The BLS reports data on fatal and nonfatal injuries and illnesses by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code. This data is collected through the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, which is both a state and federal program in which employer reports are collected annually from about 176,000 private industry establishments and processed by state agencies cooperating with the BLS. The BLS also provides data on the average weekly hours worked by production (nonsupervisory) employees, working 50 weeks per year, and reported injuries or illnesses in the construction industry.

Using this data, we were able to draw conclusions or estimations on how much workplace injuries or fatalities can affect a company.


Nonfatal Injuries and Illnesses

The data in Figure 1 shows the number of cases in each category of number of days lost. Each case of an injury or illness is one occurrence for one employee, and the categories are not cumulative. In other words, in 2014, there were 10,650 cases of injury or illness in the entire construction industry that resulted in one day of lost work and 7,570 cases of injuries/illnesses that lead to two days of lost work.

A detailed view of the categories in Figure 1 shows that the majority of illnesses and injuries result in more than one month of lost time.

Days and Hours Lost

Because the data is listed by cases in each category, we calculated a weighted average of days lost to determine the impact on labor hours. The weighted average is calculated as follows:

Weighted Average of Days Lost
= (# cases of 1 day × 1)

+(# cases of 2 days × 2)

+(# cases of 3–5 days × 4)

+(# cases of 6–10 days × 8)

+(# cases of 11–20 days × 15)

+(# cases of 21–30 days × 25)Figure-2.gif

+(# cases 31 or more days × 50)

The weighted average of days lost in 2014 was 1,565,910 days. Assuming an eight-hour workday, this translates to 12,527,280 hours lost in 2014 as a result of nonfatal injuries and illnesses.

For analysis, we compared electrical construction, building construction, overall construction, and specialty trades.

The trend of hours lost, using the previous method for calculating the weighted average, is shown in Figure 2 for all construction, building construction, and electrical construction.

Figure-3.gifSpecialty trades result in more days lost than building and nonbuilding construction. Figure 3 shows a pie chart of the 2014 hours missed for each component.

To further weight the impact of the lost time, we compared the lost hours to the calculated hours worked in each industry. The calculation of hours worked is this:

Hours Worked = Number of Production
Workers × Average Weekly Hours
Worked × 50 Weeks/Year


The trend of fatalities for overall construction, building Figure-2.gifconstruction, and electrical subcontracting is shown in Figure 4.

Causes of Injury

Figure 5 shows the nature of illnesses in the construction and electrical construction industries. The chart is ordered from largest to smallest by each category for the electrical construction industry.


In conclusion, there are a lot of safety measures that can be made to make your work environment a safe place to be. Some of which can go way beyond hard hats and gear that OSHA requires. Proper training is a must, but accidents can and do happen as the above Figure-5.giffigures indicate. Proper processes in place can prepare you to handle any given situation and will help illuminate how to put out fires when things do go awry. Processes like WBS™ can break down the work and identify the risk as you prepare for the job. Using ASTM’s E2691 Standard on Job Productivity Measurement process (JPM or JPAC®) while the work is in progress not only records the data but analyzes it in real-time, so you can better prepare for things to come. Short Interval Scheduling (SIS®) can help reduce the obstructions at the job site by pointing them out, allowing you to eliminate or schedule around the obstacles that slow you down and keep you out of harm’s way.

To eliminate lost hours and productivity on a project, safety and planning must be number one.

Dr. Perry Daneshgari is the President / CEO of MCA Inc. MCA Inc. is a research and implementation company that focuses on implementing process and product development; waste reduction; and productivity improvement of labor, project management, estimation, accounting, and customer care. He has also published four books and an ASTM Standard for Job Productivity Measurement.

Dr. Heather Moore is Vice President of Operations for MCA Inc. She holds a Ph.D. in Construction Management from Michigan State University. Additionally, she holds an MBA from University of Michigan, Flint, and a B.S.E. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She was a contributor for the ASTM Standard E2691 “Job Productivity Measurement” and also was co-author of the newly published ASTM book,“Application of ASTME 2691 Standard Practice for Job Productivity Measurement in Agile Construction®.”