Job TitleProject Manager: Health and Safety
Experience3 to 5 years
Job Published29 August 2021
Job Reference No.2737958566
Integration and Scope Management
“Safety First” should be a key element of project integration management because it affects all of the project management knowledge areas outlined in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).“Safety First”must be integrated into all aspects of the project to ensure success. This integration needs to begin with project scope management. The project manager needs to ensure that the project charter adequately identifies the importance of developing and maintaining a safe working environment for the project team. Each project manager should insist that a project-level Safety Plan is developed implemented and enforced. The project specific plan should be a subset of the corporate safety plan of either the client or the implementing organization. This top-tier project document will provide a framework for the implementation of safety procedures and safe work practices for all project members and subcontractors. The project manager must believe that an injury-free work environment is possible.
Cost, Schedule, and Quality
A project that finishes on time and under budget should not be considered successful if a teammate is seriously injured. If teammates know they are expected to take the necessary time to perform their tasks safely, they will be less likely to make bad decisions as a result of feeling schedule pressure. Fewer bad decisions mean higher quality and fewer delays from rework. Projects having fewer safety problems usually have fewer quality problems. Whether safety is the cause and quality is the effect, or visas versa, is not really the issue. What is important is that safety and quality equate to productivity, and productivity relates to cost and schedule performance. The project manager needs to constantly reinforce the message that safety will not be compromised for any reason, especially, cost or schedule reasons.
One of the aspects of project human resource management is team building. If the members of the project team know that the project manager and the management team are concerned about their personal safety, then they will be more apt to look out for their own safety and the safety of their teammates. One way to accomplish this objective is to establish a Safety Steering Team early in the project life cycle to engage team members in establishing safety standards and objectives for the project.
Another way to encourage responsibility and commitment to safety is to limit the role of the safety professionals to that of staff advisors. The safety staff should establish implementing policies and procedures based on the project specific Safety Plan. The workforce will then use these procedures. Safety Specialists should gather data about the hazards in the work place and communicate to the information to work planners, supervisors, and work crews. The safety staff should be viewed as safety consultants not as safety police. The goal is to get the workforce to become safety focused and not depend on the safety professionals to keep them safe.
One of the main hindrances to achieving safety goals is the presence of hazardous situations or unsafe actions in the workplace. Significant research conducted by the safety industry shows that the number of recordable injuries is inversely proportional to the number of near misses identified and remedied. The more near miss items identified and corrected, the fewer recordable injuries are sustained. One of the major factors affecting this relationship is getting the involvement and commitment of everyone involved in not only identifying problems but also correcting them. Workers need to be encouraged to self-identify hazards and take responsibility to correct unsafe conditions.
The use of incentives to reward good safety practices can be a method for involving workers in improving the work environment from a safety perspective. An incentive program that rewards workers for identifying and correcting hazards coupled with achievement of project-level safety goals can be very effective. Workers who feel that they have control over their environment are more responsible and productive. The trick is to implement an effective, low-cost method of identifying and correcting hazards in the workplace. This can be accomplished by implementing a Safety Observation System (SOS) similar to the one described next.
Exhibit 1. SOS Process
Safety Observation System
- A mechanism to correct and report Unsafe Conditions and observations of Unsafe Acts, without identifying the individual(s)
- A simple, streamlined method to report, and act on, Near Miss Incidents, thus promoting an increase in Near Miss reporting
- Identification of Human Performance Issues
- Use as a way of recognizing teams and/or individuals for desired behavior
- Further increasing health and safety awareness at ALL levels
- Prevent situations from reaching the point to where an injury/illness occurs.
Exhibit 1 is a flowchart that shows how the SOS process is used to collect information about safety hazards and ensure that the information gathered is communicated to the team and how it is used to develop lessons learned.
SOS Roles and Responsibilities
- Use the SOS Process.
- Share and act upon information gained from use of SOS.
- Set specific targets/goals for recognize and reward employees/teams for the use, and quality of the SOS Process (i.e., not just submit nonvaluable data just to get a quota of numbers), and for accomplishments gained by the use of SOS.
- Sign SOS Cards.
Safety Steering Team (SST) Responsibilities
- Use the SOS Process.
- Trend and analyze SOS data on at least a weekly basis.
- Generate reports on emerging or adverse trends.
- Elevate relevant issues to Management.
- Ensure that communications received in the SST meetings reach all individuals.
- Elevate issues to Management, beyond the current SST's scope of resolution.
Individual Team Supervisors/Leaders Responsibilities
- Use the SOS Process.
- Ensure that all respective teammates utilize the SOS Process and cards for applicable incident reporting.
- Recognize and reward team/individual-level
- Elevate issues to SST for consideration/resolution. Teammates and Individual Contributors Responsibilities
- Use the SOS Process.
- Provide feedback/input to Supervisors/Team Leaders and/or SST.
Exhibit 2 shows the SOS cards that are used to document the field observations and actions.
Safety needs to be at the forefront of project communications to reinforce the management team's commitment to safety, and encourage the team's commitment to safety. Every meeting and project status report should start with a focus on safety. In meetings, start by asking the participants if there are any safety concerns that need to be addressed. Wait for an answer; do not breeze by this question. Project status reports should indicate the latest safety statistics; however, care should be exercised in what is communicated, too much focus on the number of safe work hours achieved or the number of hours worked since the last injury can lead to driving reporting of injuries underground. The message from project leadership should focus on reducing hazards and recognition for proactive measures taken by team members.
Adoption of Safety Guiding Principles, such as those listed below, is one way to integrate a commitment to safety into the project team. Everyone on the project team should be expected to know each of these principles. Have these principles printed onto small cards that can be attached to identification cards or put in a pocket. At the daily briefings, have someone quiz the team on one of the items.
Safety Guiding Principles
- Everyone is responsible for safety.
- We look out for each other.
- Safety will be planned into our work.
- All injuries are preventable.
- Management is accountable for preventing injuries.
- Employees must be trained to work safely.
- Working safely is a condition of employment.
- Safety performance will be measured.
- All deficiencies must be resolved.
- React to incidents, not just to injuries.
- Off-the-job safety is as important as on-the-job safety.
- It's good business to prevent injuries.
- We will comply with applicable occupational health and safety regulations.
“Safety represents the most significant risk we experience on labor intensive projects. To reduce the risk of injury to workers, safety requires a greater commitment from management than any other issue” (Jones & Francoeur, 1997). Anyone who has been involved in a labor-intensive project knows that this statement by Jones, PMP, and Francoeur is absolutely true. Risk management should address personnel safety as well as cost and schedule issues. Making sure that workers understand just the technical aspect of a job is not enough. Failure to address the safety risk associated with a task or job evolution can result in injury, and even death. Pre-job safety checklists, designed to identify the hazards the workers will encounter while performing their assigned task, need to be developed during the planning process and reviewed prior to the start of each work activity. Furthermore, the hazard checklist should be reviewed every day the job is being executed.
Exhibit 2. SOS Data Entry Card
Training is a means of risk mitigation. Ensure your workers are trained to perform the tasks they have been assigned. That includes not only the task itself, but also such training as the proper use of fall protection equipment, scaffold user training and what to do when conditions change or when unexpected events occur. Encourage workers to Stop, Think, Act and Review (STAR) each job they perform. This process, if used properly, will encourage each worker to contemplate what needs to be done before beginning a task, perform the task per the plan and then review what was accomplished and look for ways of improving the safety, quality or other aspect of the task performance.
When selecting subcontractors, apply the same expectations on them that you do for yourself when it comes to safety. Prescreen potential subcontractors based on their safety records. If their Experience Modification Rate (EMR), OSHA Incident Rate, or OSHA Lost Workday Rate is below your standard eliminate them from your list of potential suppliers. Make sure all subcontractor contracts include the same penalties and rewards that you are subject to, as a means of sharing risk and promoting commitment to safety. Insist that each subcontractor have, and utilize, their own safety program and that it measures up to your program.
Finally, when it comes to purchasing safety equipment, buy the best. This will send a message to the team that you are serious about fulfilling your responsibility to prevent injuries.
The project manager must believe that safety is of utmost importance and ensure that the project stakeholders have the same view. The project manager sets the example for the entire project team. Whatever the project manager focuses on will be viewed by the team as important. The saying, “actions speak louder than words” is true. Project managers who place a premium on integrating safety into their projects will ensure better overall project performance. Implementation of programs and practices like those listed in this paper should help any project manager ensure that “Safety First” is a core value and not just a catchy slogan.
- Transformation candidates
- Degree or Diploma in Health and Safety
- Skills: Drafting of the dashboard
- Reporting of incidents
- Strong admin skills
- Managing numerous projects
- Work experience: 3 to 5 years as Project Manager – Health and Safety