Yet, these decisions can often impact lives and cost millions. But, we hardly give that a thought, often more preoccupied with other matters, sometimes placing schedule and profit ahead of everything else. After all, disaster won’t happen to us!
Construction is an inherently dangerous occupation. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015 over 900 people died in the US in construction related accidents. Unfortunately, thousands more were seriously injured, some permanently disabled. But these figures don’t include those who were killed traveling to and from construction projects, and nor do they include occupants of the completed facility who are injured or killed by defective work, or unsafe workplaces. I wonder how many of those fatalities and injuries were a result of poor decisions?
But project safety isn’t just about what contractors do, it often starts with designers, and ends with owners. Often their decisions also have a profound impact on the project.
Designers have a responsibility to ensure they make the correct decisions, decisions which are based on the correct facts and not on wrong assumptions. Their decisions will impact the integrity of their designs which:
- Must be error free so that the design won’t fail. Sometimes these defects only become apparent when an extreme event, such as an earthquake or tornado occurs.
- Be able to take the maximum loading which could be expected. There have been many reports of balconies collapsing or handrails giving way when crowds gathered.
- Shouldn’t incorporate hazardous materials, or flammable materials, or materials that will give off toxic vapors when burned.
- Should be safe and shouldn’t result in trip hazards, unprotected edges, and slippery surfaces.
- Must comply with all codes and safety regulations.
- Shouldn’t be compromised by owners making changes, nor by contractors delivering poor quality work.
Owners are sometimes responsible for injuries and fatalities because their decisions also impact the project because::
- They demand impossibly tight construction schedules, squeeze contractors so that they take risks to make a profit, and then select contractors purely based on price, not a contractor that has a reputation for producing a safe project of good quality.
- They don’t insist on the implementation of proper quality control and good safety practices during construction.
- They use the facility for purposes which it wasn’t intended for, such as converting warehouses to nightclubs.
- They make unapproved alterations to the building, which may include demolishing parts of the structure that are integral to the building’s safety and stability.
- They don’t maintain the facility correctly.
- They allow waste to accumulate which can be a fire hazard, block fire exits and overload structures.
Contractors’ poor decisions not only risk killing and injuring people during construction, but they could also endanger the lives of future occupants of the facility by constructing a project of poor quality, or one that contains hazardous materials.
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'Successful Construction Project Management: The Practical Guide'
'Building a Successful Construction Company: The Practical Guide'
'Construction Claims: A Short Guide for Contractors'
'Construction Project Management: Tips and Insights'
'Construction Management: From Project Concept to Completion'
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