Planning For a Safe Working Environment

Last year, we presented two separate articles on the topic of safety and the correlation between safety
and productivity (“A Safe Job Site Is a Productive Job Site” [2016 May/June Insights] and “Predict &
Prevent” [2016 Sept/Oct Insights]). We have already presented the data that shows “why” this connection is important to an electrical contractor, and we have already presented the information that explains “what” needs to be done in order to gather relevant information from the field. In this article, we will dive deeper into “how” to use critical business processes to alleviate the risk of safety-related issues before they occur. Not unlike quality and customer care, the safety of any job site starts with the board of directors. If the executives, manager, and supervisors think safety first, then the job sites will be safer. 
Of course, there is no silver bullet; all we can do is present the proven steps and the science behind them. The results gained are dependent on the individuals present, the people making the decisions, and the workers entering the job site and using the tools. Safe practices and safe business processes start well ahead of an electrician’s involvement – and extend well beyond an electrician’s involvement. At the heart of a safe job site is a complete and effective Process of Project Management (POPM). A POPM that incorporates all of the necessary planning, management, and learning functions is the best way to ensure that each job you take on is running as productively and as safely as can be reasonably expected. 
Figure 1 (page 23) shows the eight steps of a typical POPM, divided into three primary functional areas: Management Planning Functions, Project Team Planning Functions, and Project Team Management Functions. Each of these has a unique and critical role in maintaining a safe and productive work environment. In the following sections, we will expand on each of these at a high enough level that they are not unique to any one company’s business model, but are a specific discussion of the principles and what they should look like when properly applied.
Although the POPM is developed as a means to manage each individual project, the early functions are also very closely tied to business policies. During the initial Management Planning Functions, the project will be described and the team named as well as the high-level scope of work drafted at the contractual level. The item included here that will have the most profound impact on job safety is the selection of the team, not just the internal team, but all stakeholders who will be brought into the project in support of the electrical work. This includes sub-contractors and vendors who will perform work for the electrical contractor or directly in support of the electrical contractor and any whom could be performing work on the job site.
Many electrical contractors have or will soon be engaging in partnership type relationships with their suppliers; and many are beginning to ask these suppliers to provide material in staged deliveries to specific locations on the job site, packaged/kitted or labeled in a specific manner to improve installation productivity. All of this is profoundly good; however, it also raises serious safety concerns if the necessary process steps aren’t included upfront. The critical items that should be consistently applied and monitored within the Statement of Work for any vendor partnership include the following: 
  • Individual point(s) of contact.
  • Who from the supplier will be on site and in what capacity.
  • What training, PPE, and other safety requiremen