Predict & Prevent

Most electrical contractors (EC) would tell you that “safety is a top priority.” In fact, many institute company-wide safety programs that include training, procedures, and documentation, and they focus from top to bottom on safety. Construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in terms of safety, as the national level safety data and trends indicate. So, how is it that ECs have come so far in training and focus on safety yet we still are left with incidents and accidents?

MCA-Fig-1_SeptOct16.gifAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction represents about 10-15% of all industry injuries (Figure 1 at right), and the contribution often increases year after year. Electrical construction contributes about 10% of all construction hours missed due to nonfatal injuries and illnesses, with approximately 3 million hours per year. At an average loaded labor cost of $50/hour, the industry loses about $150 million per year in unrecoverable scheduled work due to injuries and illnesses, and these are only the recorded and reported ones. With these numbers in mind, safety should be a high priority for the construction industry as a whole and for each contractor. An EC takes on significant risk every time he or she wins a job, including business risk, technical risk, and integration risk. Safety impacts all three of these and is the highest potential loss – in terms of human capital – if not managed correctly.


National data is useful but does not help a contractor to “predict and prevent” on a project level and on a day to day basis. Agile Construction® is a method that focuses on prediction and prevention by using real-time and regular feedback from the source of work – primarily the electrician and the job site environment. Safety prediction and prevention of incidents begins with a solid planning process, which takes safety risk into account; it also requires useful and accurate data from the field and analysis of the data that can be used to predict safety incidents.

Project-level data can be used to model what input factors are either correlated or causal to safety incidents. Correlation and causation are two different things, which is important to keep in mind. Certain factors on a job site may highly correlate with frequency or severity of safety incidents, but it does not necessarily mean that the factors cause the safety incidents to occur. Both pieces of information are useful though; even though given factors do not cause safety incidents, if the factors correlate with the safety incidents it means their presence or absence on a job can be used to predict a potential incident’s occurrence. For example, the following factors could be used to correlate with safety incidents:

  • Project financials, such as cost to complete and underbillings;
  • Job productivity data, using ASTM E2691 – Standard for Job Productivity Measurement;
  • Data from short interval scheduling (SIS®), which tabulates obstacles to scheduled work and provides a view to daily scheduled tasks;
  • Project audit information, from reviews performed every 25% complete on a project;
  • Safety reporting, such as job hazard analysis, safety stand-downs, and incident reporting; and
  • Project demographics, such as job site conditions, crew structure, job duration, and shift times.

At the job level planning, a WBS can be used to evaluate risk on activities, locations, phases, or other elements of the project. Once the work is visible, the project team can make a pass at all of the work and activities to evaluate risk overall and specifically evaluate safety risk. There are two aspects of this process that should be visible on the WBS once it is completed:

  1. Activities listed on the WBS that will accomplish the wo