Crews and project teams often take shortcuts and do not implement rigorous checks on tasks while ignoring the increased likelihood of potential risks events becoming real problems. The pressure to do this often lies in the project culture of "The Schedule is Tight, Get This Work Done NOW!" This pressure leads many project teams to resort to a minimal risk management approach on their projects. We typically see this carried out in a combination of three strategies:

  1. Dependence upon those doing the tasks to understand and compensate for various risks;

  2. Indirect pools of time or money to act as a contingency reserve

  3. Experience of the team in that they have accomplished similar projects before and have seen it all.

One would expect with all of the attention currently focused on the management of risks in a project environment, that better performance would be the result. A study of the risk assessment techniques currently taught in many project management training classes shows that a number of statistical methodologies that are difficult to master are taught to the attendees. Additionally, the qualitative methods taught do not go far enough for teams to rapidly master and implement in practice resulting in poorly defined data providing valid decision criteria further decreasing the of good risk planning. Once again, the project team will fall back on the three strategies mentioned above. The combinations of these risk assessments continue to cause projects to experience the repeat occurrence of common risk events, particularly in areas of safety, leading to project delays and cost overruns.

Fatal Accident Probe Halts San Francisco Bridge Construction

"The job's suspended indefinitely…There won't be work out on the bridge until we figure out what happened." Arizona Daily Star: 01/07/02.

Texas Justices Found Firm Liable In Death Of Subcontractor's Worker

"The Texas Supreme Court has upheld a $12.5 million damage award in an 11- year old construction accident, a ruling that may intensify pressure on general contractors to improve jobsite safety for workers employed by subcontractors." The Dallas Morning News: 12/31/2001

do we wait for this to occur on our projects?

To improve the success rate of a project and prevent injuries or equipment damage, project teams must establish and integrate early risk awareness and risk assessment environments into the project planning and implementation process. The safety representative is crucial to this development and in the maintaining of a risk aware environment in the planning and implementation of projects. The collaboration effort of the project team and the safety team must consider key critical risks and risk scenarios that may impact project work packages. A key role and responsibility of the safety officer or representative on a project team is not to do just training and safety inspections but become one of the project's RISK MANAGERS and remain proactive throughout the project lifecycle.

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