Workplace Safety Examples: A Guide to Best Practices

Workplace safety examples and their implementation must be a top workplace priority for any employer. Regulatory bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) not only require your workforce to be protected, but your employees expect it too. According to a recent survey, 75% of workers say they are more likely to stay with a company that prioritizes physical safety, illustrating the impact of practical workplace safety examples.

Despite this, the same study found that more than half of employees are exposed to a safety hazard on the job at least one or two times each week.

In this blog, we explore occupational safety rules and regulations, share tips to help you comply, and shine a light on real-life examples of workplace safety success.

Introduction to Workplace Safety

ard hat on workplace report illustrating the importance of safety in the workplace examples

Workplace injuries and illness are a leading cause of absenteeism, lost productivity, and workers’ compensation claims volume.

The Importance of Occupational Safety

Proactive changes that improve workplace safety can result in significant improvements to your organization’s productivity and financial performance. Consider the statistics from OSHA:

  • Companies spend $170 billion each year on costs associated with workplace incidents.
  • Workplace safety programs lower injury incidences from anywhere between 9% and 60%.
  • Workplace safety programs can reduce injury and illness costs by up to 40%.

Role of Employers and Employees in Ensuring Safety

As an employer, below are some recommended measures to take when designing an efficient workplace safety program:

  • Identify hazards in the workplace.
  • Develop an accident prevention plan to mitigate risks.
  • Educate employees and encourage their involvement in safety protocols.
  • Keep appropriate records and create a report when an incident occurs.
  • Regularly reassess your safety program to identify areas for improvement.

Workplace Safety Examples

Workplace safety must be practiced regardless of industry or the workplace location, but some workplaces are more high-risk than others.

Let’s look at a few health and safety in the workplace examples and common hazards that employees face:

Safety in the Manufacturing Industry

Risks associated with manufacturing include operating heavy machinery, handling chemicals, hazardous materials, and electric or fire hazards.

According to OSHA, workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer approximately 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions, and more than 800 deaths per year.

Measures such as machine guarding, noise and hearing protection, respiratory protection, and slip and fall prevention can help reduce risks.

Office Workplace Safety Examples

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private employers reported 2.6 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021. The most common office safety hazards include slipping, tripping, and falling; ergonomic injuries; poor lighting and eye strain; indoor air pollution; and fire hazards.

Construction Site Safety Measures

The construction sector is widely known for its high level of danger. Apart from handling bulky machinery and equipment, workers face risks from harmful chemicals and materials and working at great heights.

Statistics reveal that falls, slips, and trips are responsible for 35% of fatalities and 21,400 non-lethal injuries within the industry. Regrettably, the number of fatal accidents in construction has hit a five-year high.

Construction site safety measures include wearing hard hats, safety respirators and masks, reflective gear, protective earmuffs, and more.

Retail and Hospitality Safety Precautions

The retail and hospitality industry exposes employees to a variety of risks including heavy lifting and other ergonomic risk factors, slips and falls, fire and electrical hazards, and more.

These risks have consequences. According to the BLS, retail has among the highest rates of workplace injuries and illnesses, growing from 341,100 cases in 2020 to 404,000 cases in 2021. Meanwhile, approximately one in 1,000 hotel workers are injured on the job each year.

Health and Safety in the Remote Work Environment

Employers have a responsibility for employee health and safety, wherever they work – at home or in a remote office.

Despite the lack of regulatory guidance on managing the health and safety of remote workers, it is wise to implement measures to identify and minimize potential safety risks. These include workplace ergonomics, lighting, HVAC, and other environmental factors that could affect the well-being of remote employees. Additionally, consider offering support services to promote mental and emotional well-being so that remote workers feel supported and valued.

Occupational Safety Rules

Importance of Implementing Safety in the Workplace Examples

As an employer, you must comply with occupational safety rules and standards required by the federal government and your state’s occupational safety and health division.

Regulatory Bodies and Standards

The most widely recognized regulatory agency is OSHA, which establishes safety standards and provides guidance to employers. OSHA also monitors workplace safety incidents and enforces regulations through targeted inspection programs. Visit the OSHA website to search standards by keyword or industry.

Other bodies and standards include the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and state regulatory bodies.

Employee Training and Compliance

Occupational safety rules and regulations require employers to train workers who face hazards on the job.

Explore the resources offered by OSHA and the National Safety Council (NSC). Both provide tools, outreach, and education to help you comply with workplace safety obligations.

Reporting and Accountability

As an employer, you must adhere to workplace safety reporting requirements, including:

  • Reporting a workplace fatality to OSHA within eight hours. Severe injuries (work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye) must be reported within 24 hours.
  • If you employ more than 10 employees, you must keep a record of severe injuries and illnesses and maintain them at your worksite for at least five years.

OSHA may conduct inspections of your workplace without advance notice. However, you can require a compliance officer to obtain an inspection warrant before entering your worksite.

8 Workplace Safety Tips

Eight Practical Health and Safety Tips

Below are a few things you can do to create a safer workplace environment.

Maintain a Clean and Organized Workspace

To prevent falls, slips, and trips, remove any clutter or unnecessary items in the workplace. Ensure employees keep their workspaces clean and sanitized.

Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Remind workers who are exposed to hazardous materials or environments to wear protective equipment, such as goggles, respiratory protection, or a hard hat.

Practice Good Ergonomics

Educate employees on proper posture. From lifting heavy boxes to sitting at a workstation, good ergonomics is the easiest way to avoid aches, pains, and injuries.

Implement Regular Breaks and Stretching

Tired or overworked employees are easily distracted and may not focus on their work, creating a liability. Encourage regular breaks and stretching. Even a quick walk around the block can help workers rest and recharge.

Adhere to Proper Chemical Handling Procedures

Inform employees of the proper procedure for handling hazardous chemicals. Provide safety data sheets, label all containers, and train employees on how to respond to chemical exposure.

Prioritize Fire Safety and Prevention

Make sure fire alarms and suppression systems are installed and working properly, eliminate fire hazards, post escape plans, practice frequent fire drills, and teach employees about fire safety and prevention.

Encourage Reporting of Hazards and Near Misses

Identifying workplace hazards is key to mitigating them. Require that all employees report unsafe conditions promptly and act quickly to remediate risks.

Stay Up-to-Date with Safety Training and Education

Stay current with new standards or procedures and invest in continuing workplace safety training so that everyone knows how to avoid and respond to an incident.

Health and Safety Advice

From removing hazards to reporting unsafe conditions, small steps can make a big difference. Below are four guidelines to keep your workplace safe:

  • Implement an effective safety program
  • Encourage employee participation
  • Conduct regular safety audits and inspections
  • Invest in safety education and training

Real-Life Examples of Workplace Safety Success

Workplace safety can have a huge impact on employee morale and productivity, and lessen your liability as an employer – as many exemplary employers have found out.

Companies Excelling in Workplace Safety

Employers that exhibit a dedication to worker safety and health are consistently acknowledged by regulators and NGOs. Check them out below:

  • NSC’s “CEOs Who Get It” Recognition Program: Take a look at the latest list of CEOs and organizations that prioritize workplace safety and discover their approaches to ensuring that every worker returns home safely at the end of each shift.

Lessons Learned from Successful Workplace Initiatives

A dedication to workplace safety goes beyond adhering to regulatory requirements. As success stories prove, it’s about integrating new technologies such as safety tracking tools, broadening the scope of programs to include employee behavioral health and wellbeing, and bolstering worker engagement by listening to their ideas and concerns.

Prioritizing Workplace Safety Examples and Health in the Workplace

Prioritizing Health and Safety in the Workplace: Practical Examples

With an effective workplace safety program, which includes the implementation of practical workplace safety examples, you can proactively prevent injury and illness. A safe workplace is not only a moral obligation but also sound business. An effective workplace safety program, with tangible workplace safety examples, can significantly reduce costs related to injury and illness. Prioritizing occupational safety also gives you a recruiting edge, decreases absenteeism, increases productivity, and enhances employee satisfaction.

It’s never too late to start.

Learn how Acuity’s occupational health and workplace safety services can help you maintain a healthy, safe, and productive workforce, employing the best workplace safety examples.

How to Develop and Implement an Occupational Health Management System

Did you know that more than half of employees experience one to two workplace hazards per week? Or that 75% of employees say they are more likely to stay with a company that prioritizes workplace safety?

Those numbers are from a recent survey from Ansel, provider of protective equipment. They reveal an unsettling truth for both employees and employers. While many employees routinely face risks whenever they come to work, employers run the risk of losing those employees if they don’t do something about it.

One thing they can and should do is develop and implement an occupational health management system.

Occupational health management is the practice of identifying and managing workplace hazards that can impact employees’ health. It involves identifying and assessing risks, implementing control measures, and monitoring the effectiveness of these measures, and complying with legal requirements for occupational health. Let’s take a closer look at what developing and implementing an occupational health system involves, the different types of occupational health services that should be considered, and how to handle various legal requirements.

 

What steps are involved in developing an occupational health management system?

Steps for implementing an occupational health system

 

Developing a solid occupational health management system consists of five key steps:

  • Identify hazards in the workplace. Identify all potential hazards in the workplace and assess the risks associated with each hazard.
  • Evaluate the risks associated with these hazards. Evaluate the risks associated with each hazard to determine the level of risk and prioritize which hazards should be addressed first.
  • Implement control measures to reduce or eliminate hazards. Control measures can include engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment. Employers must implement the most effective control measures to reduce or eliminate hazards.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of control measures. Regularly monitor the effectiveness of control measures to ensure that they are still effective and that new hazards have not arisen.
  • Regularly review and update the occupational health management system.This helps ensure that the system is still effective in compliance with any new legal requirements.

 

What are the legal requirements for occupational health in the workplace?

Legal requirements for occupational health in the workplace

 

Speaking of legal requirements, they tend to vary by jurisdiction, but generally include requirements for employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees. These requirements can include regulations related to workplace hazards, employee training and education, protective equipment and clothing, and reporting of workplace incidents or injuries. Your organization must also comply with any relevant legislation related to disability accommodation, workers’ compensation, and human rights.

If your organization fails to comply with these requirements it may face legal consequences, including fines and legal action by employees or regulatory agencies. Therefore, it is important for employers to stay up-to-date with the latest legal requirements related to occupational health and ensure that they are complying with all relevant 

Remember: you have a legal responsibility to identify and assess occupational health risks in your workplace. This involves conducting regular risk assessments and implementing control measures to reduce or eliminate hazards. You must also provide appropriate training and protective equipment to employees to ensure their safety.

Once you’ve identified hazards in the workplace, it’s your responsibility to implement control measures to reduce or eliminate them. These measures can include engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment. All in the name of enhancing the wellbeing of your employees and making your organization a safer place to work.

 

What are the different types of occupational health services?

Types of occupational health services

 

Now that we’ve gotten the legalese out of the way, let’s look at the different types of occupational health services you should consider:. Medical surveillance involves monitoring employees’ health and well-being to identify and manage occupational health risks. 

  • Health screening involves assessing employees’ health status and identifying any health problems that may be related to their work. 
  • Health promotion programs aim to improve employee health and well-being through activities like exercise programs, healthy eating initiatives, and stress management programs.

You can also provide support and assistance to employees who are experiencing health problems related to their work. This can include access to medical treatment, counseling services, and disability accommodations. By providing these services, you can help employees manage their health and well-being and reduce the risk of workplace accidents and injuries. 

By providing these types of services, you can support the health and well-being of your employees, which can lead to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and improved morale. You’ll also be doing the right thing by helping to reduce workplace hazards and showing your employees you value their safety.

Acuity can help. Our occupational health services can be customized to any company and workforce, and are designed to protect employees, increase productivity, decrease healthcare costs, and reduce lost time. 

Contact us to learn more about how to make your employees safer and more productive. 

What is Occupational Health: Understanding the Importance of Workplace Wellness

Employee productivity and happiness has been on everyone’s minds over the past year. From “the Great Resignation” to “quiet quitting,” employee turnover continues to pose a challenge to organizations across the world.

One way to keep employees is to keep them safe. Organizations can do that by emphasizing and practicing occupational health. 

Occupational health is a critical part of maintaining a healthy, safe, and productive workplace. It involves identifying and managing workplace hazards that can impact employee health and well-being and create a better sense of workplace wellness. That’s a key to minimizing employee absenteeism, increasing employee productivity, and improving the overall health and well-being of employees. When employees are healthy and happy, they are more likely to be engaged and productive at work, creating a positive work culture that is ripe for attracting and retaining top talent.

Let’s take a closer look at what occupational health is, how to implement and manage it, the risks it can help mitigate, and why it’s important for your organization.

 

Occupational Health Definition

Occupational health is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on promoting and maintaining physical, mental, and social well-being in the workplace. This includes ensuring that employees are not exposed to harmful substances, noise pollution, or other hazardous conditions that can cause injury, illness, or disease. This can include anything from ensuring that employees have access to ergonomic equipment that reduces physical strain, to implementing stress management programs that promote mental health.

Furthermore, occupational health is not just about preventing negative health outcomes, but also about promoting positive ones. This can include providing health education to employees, encouraging healthy behaviors, and creating a culture of wellness within the workplace. It can also entail providing employees with access to ergonomic equipment that reduces physical strain and implementing stress management programs that promote mental health.

 

Importance of Occupational Health in the Modern Workplace

What is occupational health

As companies look for ways to attract and retain talent, an increasing number of organizations are investing in occupational health programs. They know the benefits that a happy and safe workplace equals a more productive (and profitable) workplace.

These organizations are also acknowledging our current reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant shift in the way workplaces operate, making it necessary for businesses to prioritize employee health and safety. By implementing occupational health measures, businesses can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace and protect their employees. This not only keeps employees safe but also helps to mitigate the risk of business disruption due to outbreaks.

Additionally, investing in occupational health programs can have long-term benefits for companies. By promoting employee health and wellness, companies can reduce the cost of healthcare and improve the overall health of their workforce. This, in turn, can lead to increased productivity and profitability for the organization.

 

Four Categories of Occupational Health Risks

What are the risks that an occupational health program helps protect against? There are several, and they can be broadly categorized into four types: physical, chemical, biological, and psychological hazards.

 

Physical

Occupational physical hazards

Physical hazards can come in many forms, including noise, vibration, and extreme temperatures. For example, employees who work in noisy environments, such as construction sites, may be at risk of developing hearing loss over time. Similarly, employees who work in extremely hot or cold environments may be at risk of developing heat stroke or hypothermia. Physical hazards can also include slips, trips, falls, and other accidents resulting from unsafe working conditions.

 

Chemical

Occupational chemical hazards

Chemical hazards can include exposure to toxic substances like asbestos, lead, and pesticides. Exposure to these substances can cause serious health problems, such as lung disease, neurological damage, and cancer. Employers must ensure that employees are aware of the risks associated with these substances and have access to the necessary protective equipment and training to minimize their risk of exposure.

 

Biological

Occupational biological hazards

Employees may be exposed to infectious agents like bacteria and viruses, which can lead to serious illnesses. It is important to provide your employees with the protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, to minimize their risk of exposure to these hazards. Employers must also ensure that employees are aware of the risks associated with biological hazards and take steps to minimize exposure.

 

Psychological

Occupational Psychological hazards

Psychological hazards can include workplace stress, bullying, and harassment. These types of risks can have a significant impact on employee mental health and lead to absenteeism, reduced productivity, and high turnover rates. It’s important to take steps to minimize these risks, such as providing employee assistance programs and promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity in the workplace.

Fortunately, there are many ways to manage occupational health risks, including conducting regular workplace inspections, providing appropriate training and education to employees, and implementing effective safety protocols. Additionally, it is important to establish a reporting system for workplace hazards so that employees can report any issues in a timely manner and appropriate action can be taken.

 

Occupational Health: Critical to Your Business and Employees

Occupational health is critical to the success of your business and employees’ well-being–and Acuity can help create the ideal occupational health program for your needs. Our occupational health services can be customized to any company and workforce, and are designed to protect employees, increase productivity, decrease healthcare costs, and reduce lost time. 

Contact us to learn more about how to make occupational health a core part of your business. 

 

What is Occupational Health: FAQ

Workplace safety education

What is the meaning of occupational health?

Occupational health refers to the promotion and maintenance of physical, mental, and social well-being in the workplace.

 

What is the main focus of occupational health?

The main focus of occupational health is to identify and manage workplace hazards that can impact employee health and well-being.

 

What are the four categories of occupational health?

The four categories of occupational health are physical, chemical, biological, and psychosocial hazards.

 

Why is occupational health important?

Occupational health is important because it helps to create a safe and healthy work environment for employees. This can lead to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and improved employee morale.

In conclusion, investing in occupational health is crucial to ensuring the well-being of employees and the success of a business. By prioritizing workplace wellness and implementing occupational health measures, businesses can create a safe and healthy work environment that benefits both employees and the company.

Wellness Programs: Using Healthcare Analytics to Support Employee Health

Most well-designed corporate wellness programs are successful, but we’ve all seen well-intended short-lived efforts come and go over the years. The challenge is defining “well-designed” and “successful.” This third edition will focus on practical considerations for using employee healthcare analytics in your business setting to support employee health and wellness. But first, a brief background on employer-based wellness programs.

A thriving “culture of health” at any organization relies on many factors, from leadership support at all levels to shared corporate values, to formal and informal systems reinforcing healthy behaviors, to accurate, reliable, and reproducible tools to measure all aspects of the culture of health.

It’s been well-documented that custom-designed wellness products can support corporate performance, both in dollars and human capital. Examples of highly developed wellness models include the ACOEM Corporate Health Achievement Award or CHAA, HERO Employee Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard, Health Risk Assessments, The Health Project C. Everett Koop National Health Awards, and health & wellness “contracts” using The Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) model.

Studies have shown a link between stock market price growth, financial performance, and having a great employee health program (CHAA, Koop Award). Employers attesting to comprehensive wellness programs outperformed the S&P index at rates ranging from 7-16 percentage points per year, representing a nearly doubling or tripling of earnings.

  • Stock performance is tied to companies with high ratings for corporate social responsibility, employee job satisfaction, spending on human resources and acknowledged as a best place to work
  • Stock values for a portfolio of companies that received high corporate health & wellness scores appreciated by 235% compared to the S&P Index of 159% over a six-year period
  • Investing in funds to develop a great wellness program will not make stock prices go down
  • Great wellness programs may be reliable indicators of future stock performance
  • Investing in funds to create a great wellness program will not make stock prices go down
  • Great wellness programs may be reliable indicators of future stock performance
  • A 2018 UK study by Glassdoor of over 35,000 reviews across 164 employers found those with more satisfied employees returned ~16% more than those with less satisfied employees
  • Koop Award companies outperformed the S&P Index over a 14-year period (2000-2014)

It’s also important to understand the practical concepts regarding CDC: Clinical Prevention Models. Most corporate wellness programs focus on primary and secondary prevention.

  • Primary prevention aims to prevent disease or injury before it ever occurs.
  • Secondary prevention focuses on early diagnosis to prompt timely interventions to prevent or minimize morbidity, reduced productivity and additional costs.
  • Tertiary prevention addresses effective interventions and employee disposition once disease or impairment is evident.

Most cookie-cutter wellness programs, despite great intentions, are often doomed to failure. You can create customized, focused programs that “learn” as they grow using well-designed analytics tools to harness your unique populations’ health data. Tap into those databases we discussed in an earlier blog, such as indemnity and workers’ compensation claims, demographics, HRAs and employee surveys to customize your wellness programs for maximal impacts on your bottom line and employee health, well-being, retention and productivity.

Stay tuned for further predictive healthcare analytics blogs covering a variety of other common and important business topics.

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About the Author:

Dr. Joe Mignogna is Acuity’s Chief Medical Officer.  Connect with him at jmignogna@acuityinternational.com

Dr. Joe Mignogna, MD, MPH, CIME, FACOEM, Chief Medical Officer

Predictive Health Analytics in the Workplace: Observation, Prediction, and Control

Knowledge is Power, Power provides Information; Information leads to Education, Education breeds Wisdom; Wisdom is Liberation.”Israelmore Ayivor

Who hasn’t watched world-class cyclists aggressively competing in the Tour de France? Cycling at high speed in tight packs on winding roads, they have an uncanny ability to quickly identify opportunities to gain an edge, predict the response of their competitors and the pack as they make their move, and effectively gain control and take the lead (and hopefully the yellow jersey). How do they do that?

Observation, Prediction, and Control

The scientific method includes generating hypotheses from observations of the world, which are then deployed to test their reliability or accuracy. The best way to test reliability is to predict an effect before it occurs. If we can manipulate the independent variables (the efficient causes) that make it occur, then the ability to predict makes it possible to control. Such control helps to isolate the relevant variables. Control also refers to a comparison condition, conducted to see what would have happened if we had not deployed the key ingredient of the hypothesis: scientific knowledge only accrues when we compare what happens in one condition against what happens in another.

Using Predictive Analytics to Improve Healthcare

The past century’s advancements in healthcare have resulted in an ever-increasing knowledge base of biomedical data for healthcare providers to access while diagnosing and treating their patients. Multi-platform interoperability and artificial intelligence (AI) are helping to corral those living and growing databases of biometrics and health outcomes.

According to a study by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) on “The Future State of Clinical Data Capture and Documentation,” global healthcare data added up to around 500 petabytes in the year 2012 and was expected to reach around 25,000 petabytes by the year 2020. Despite this wealth of information, it also creates a problem: accessibility. The main purpose of documentation should be to support patient care and improved outcomes for individuals and populations according to an AMIA Health Policy Meeting. This is where predictive analytics come into play, allowing the healthcare community to focus on finding innovative ways to enhance people and population health without having to manually examine a large amount of unwieldy data.

Observation: Gather and monitor demographic, biometric, and health outcome data.
Prediction: Identify relevant, high-yield opportunities to impact employee health, well-being, productivity, and business success.
Control: Implement focused interventions while continuously monitoring preferred impacts on your population and business; monitor and adjust as appropriate.

Here are a few examples of focused, IT-budget friendly excursions into the world of predictive healthcare analytics which can be applied in a corporate setting:

  1. Identify key readily available attributes of your population’s demographics (age, gender, dependents, ethnicity, median income, etc.) to design targeted health information newsletters and resources relevant to your business.
  2. Using data gleaned from indemnity and workers’ compensation claims, identify opportunities to modify health benefits plans to proactively address high-risk behaviors or diagnoses. In other words, focus on primary and secondary prevention interventions.
  3. Using a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) tool, confidentially survey your population for their healthcare challenges, both personal and work-related. Does the data match up with your benefits plans and claims data? Recruitment and retention?

7 Ways Predictive Analytics Can Improve Healthcare

  1. Increased accuracy of diagnoses.
  2. Improved preventive medicine and public health.
  3. Provide physicians with answers they are seeking for individual patients.
  4. Provide employers and hospitals with predictions concerning insurance product costs.
  5. Allow researchers to develop prediction models that do not require thousands of cases and that can become more accurate over time.
  6. Pharmaceutical companies can use predictive analytics to best meet the needs of the public for medications.
  7. Patients have the potential benefit of better outcomes due to predictive analytics.

If you’re interested in learning more, consider these resources for additional reading:

  1. Caitlin M. Cusack. “The future state of clinical data capture and documentation: a report from AMIA’s 2011 Policy Meeting.” Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Volume 20, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 134–140.
  2. Nghi Tran-Hoang-Phuong. “7 Ways Predictive Analysis Can Improve Healthcare.” July 15, 2021.
  3. Shantanu Chaturvedi. “7 Ways Predictive Analysis Can Improve Healthcare.” Digital Health Today. November 8, 2017.

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About the Author

Dr. Joe Mignogna is Acuity’s Chief Medical Officer.  Connect with him at jmignogna@acuityinternational.com

Dr. Joe Mignogna, MD, MPH, CIME, FACOEM, Chief Medical Officer

How Construction Partnering Can Save Time and Money During Change Order Estimation

By Mike Norman, Senior Cost Engineer

Government construction projects are frequently subject to amendments to the original contract. When this occurs, the contractor must prepare a change order and quote the price for the extra work.

But too often, change order proposals lack clarity and the amended scope is not well quantified. As a result, establishing a mutual understanding of scope between the owner and contractor can be challenging. The result is an overblown schedule and cost overruns.

However, these scenarios can be remediated. The change order pricing process can be successfully streamlined with construction partnering, which creates greater efficiencies and helps organizations save time and money.

The issue: Efficient change order pricing

Before I address what construction partnering is, and why it’s important, let’s talk a little about the current processes it’s meant to replace.

Scoping out a change order requires a complete set of project documents that carefully define the new scope of work and its impact on the construction schedule and performance. Unfortunately, this often overlooked detail has considerable impact.

When an owner orders a change to the contract – yet fails to provide extensive quantitative information (let’s call this “qualitative” scope) – it can take more time to resolve scope issues and develop the estimate. The lack of information may lead to many questions among estimators. To find answers, they will formally request more information from all bidders. This exchange takes time and leads to increased costs, delays, and inefficiencies.

The challenge for federal owners

This process is especially burdensome when government construction projects are at stake. Consider a scenario where the building owner is a public agency. In many cases, policy and/or law require these agencies to develop independent estimates of change order costs. In the federal government, and agency rules also require that the owner generates an Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE).

When defining the scope of a “qualitative” change, government estimators must inevitably make scope assumptions. This second-guessing can have a significant impact on the estimate.

But a contractor must also make assumptions. This begs the question: “Will the contractor’s assumptions match those made by the government?” Based on my experience, the answer is “no.”

Government estimators have an additional task. They must analyze each contractor’s estimate, compare it to the IGCE, and attempt to resolve the differences created by differing scope assumptions – a process that can take hundreds of hours. Meanwhile, contractors (and subcontractors) spend equal time developing a price for the work. Negotiating a settlement then adds more time to the process – the further apart the estimates, the more hours spent negotiating.

It is often the norm for this to happen, which can result in the failure to negotiate an agreed price, the issuing of a unilateral change order, or the reissue of the proposed change.

The solution: Construction partnering

What is Construction Partnering?

Contractors and government agencies can overcome these roadblocks and frustrations by implementing a limited form of construction partnering. One in which the stated intent is to develop a common understanding of scope and assumptions.

Construction partnering is a structured process that brings together project stakeholders to set goals, develop processes, discuss and resolve scope issues, and improve project outcomes. Successful partnering can reduce project costs, expedite schedules, reduce changes and claims, and improve communication.

Construction partnering achieves this by furnishing an environment conducive to the free exchange of information and open communication. It involves a single, facilitated meeting between parties. It also minimizes the “gotcha” attitude sometimes displayed by owners and contractors that arises from concealing information.

Because decision makers (notably subject matter experts and contracting officers) are in the same room, they can propose real-time solutions that reduce the government’s cost to analyze and resolve differences between the IGCE and the contractor’s scoping and assumptions.

Construction partnering and change order scope

To amplify the effectiveness of this meeting and achieve accord, several elements are key.

First, the agency and the contractor must do their homework. Prior to the meeting, each entity should develop and exchange their understanding of the scope. At a minimum, this must include the following:

  • A summary description of the presumed scope
  • A list of scope issues prioritized by importance
  • A list of assumptions

Next, both parties must review each other’s submissions and prepare to discuss the various issues in detail.

The meeting should be governed by a set agenda that has been reviewed and accepted by the agency and the contractor. During the interaction, both parties must be prepared to focus on resolving differences so they can proceed with pricing based on mutual understanding.

Overcoming objections

It’s not unheard of for government contracting officers to express fear that a collaborative approach to the change order process crosses the line separating “what is scope” from “dictating the contractor’s method of executing work.” However, a properly facilitated construction partnering meeting that includes contracting officers should alleviate that concern – while providing a forum for the parties to explain their respective approaches.

As a guideline, a partnered meeting could resemble the following agenda:

  • 8:00 am: The facilitator opens the meeting. Each participant introduces themselves and their role in the process.
  • 8:30 am: The facilitator sets forth the meeting logistics and rules (e.g., only one speaker at a time).
  • 8:45 am: Leaders are asked to state their respective goals and share scope understandings and assumptions that the government and contractor agree upon.
  • 9:00 am: To break the ice and set up an atmosphere of trust and openness, the facilitator guides the group through an exercise…
  • 9:15 am: As a group or assembled in subgroups, participants address the issues in order of importance (the “homework” discussed above will include ranking the issues in order of importance). Subgroups can be formed in a variety of ways. Ideally, the most knowledgeable SMEs are included in the appropriate subgroup.
  • 12:00 pm: The group or subgroups report their results. The facilitator will issue a written report memorializing the results.

 

Ordinarily, a construction partnering meeting will not resolve all issues, and any outstanding issues and resolution timeline should be noted. However, this is not acceptable. For estimators to begin work on a change order, it is crucial that all issues are resolved during the change order scoping meeting. If they are not, the SMEs and contracting officer should try and reach consensus.

Improved communication, improved strategy, and issue resolution

Is four hours sufficient time to yield efficiency in the case of “qualitative” change? Even if the meeting is extended to eight hours, I argue in the affirmative.

For instance, in the case of a proposed change with a seven- or eight-figure value, an agency might spend hundreds of hours generating a Class 3 IGCE and just as much time again analyzing the contractor’s proposal.

To resolve this issue, a partnership meeting might include ten to twelve stakeholders – this equates to 48 hours of cumulative people time. Even this short amount of time can generate labor savings far exceeding 48 hours. Such a meeting also saves money, while simultaneously building trust between parties who have long resisted coming to the table.

Construction partnering is a win-win for all involved.

 


About the Author

Mike Norman is a Senior Cost Engineer currently leading a team of estimating professionals completing cost, schedule, and risk analysis tasks for the Department of Energy.

Connect with Mike at mike.norman@acuityinternational.com.

High Threat Security Protection in a Fast-Changing World

Over the past 20 years, the imperative of keeping people, assets, resources, and commodities safe in high threat environments has taken on new meaning. The terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies and installations, the 9/11 attacks, and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine have significantly increased the challenges of securing infrastructure and protecting diplomats and government officials.

For example, when US officials visit high threat locations such as embassies or airbases, they must be protected from the moment they wake up, travel to the facility, perform their duties, and return safely at the end of the day. Whether mobile or static, any threats must be detected, mitigated, and deterred – without impinging on that person’s ability to operate freely, no matter how high the threat level.

High Threat Security and Protection in Action

Acuity’s Global Missions Solutions team understands the need to balance security with mission objectives. We are a trusted partner for risk management solutions that detect and deter a full spectrum of threats, including active shooters, explosives, kidnapping, facility breaches, and other incidents.

Our strategic leadership team has more than 250 years of experience in various risk management and mitigation fields in dangerous and austere environments, including defense operations, law enforcement, logistics and base operations, and more.

Furthermore, our high-threat protective services personnel are the best in the world. Before any assignment, they must meet stringent mental, physical, and moral qualifications, have proper security clearances, and undertake extensive standards-driven training.

Together, we integrate operation and mission planning, risk assessment, security services, and state-of-the-art technology and cyber operations to enhance situational awareness, manage client movement, secure critical infrastructure, and deploy quick-reaction personnel.

Wherever the mission takes a client, we are one step ahead with a full-scope analysis. In addition to conducting a threat intelligence assessment of the destination, we pinpoint enroute egress points, nearby medical facilities, safe place locations, and friendly allies in the vicinity. Our security teams know the blood types and medical conditions of the individuals under their protection and are accompanied by highly trained rapid response medical teams. They are also well-equipped to quickly remove our at-risk individuals, no matter how mobility-challenged they may be.

Navigating New Realities

One of our strengths services is our ability to adapt to changing realities. For example, during the pandemic, when commercial air travel was halted, we chartered private aircraft so that we could quickly deploy our teams at limited notice to support and secure the ongoing missions of our clients.

The results speak for themselves. We can report no significant incidents since the inception of our protective services.

Making, and Exceeding, the Grade

We also consistently exceed Program Management Review (PMR) and Contractor Performance Assessment Review (CPAR) requirements and are credited for the best practices that we implement.

Furthermore, we are the first U.S. company to meet worldwide ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 standards, which ensure the quality of private security operations in support of international defense and diplomatic security missions.

Making the grade is a vital part of our commitment to our clients and why we’re consistently recognized as one of the world’s preeminent high threat security solutions providers to a broad array of government agencies.

Work With Us

Learn more about Acuity’s Global Mission Solutions or contact us today to discuss partnership opportunities.

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About the Author:

Mike Reynolds is a Practice Leader and has more than 36 years of experience of executing and aligning law enforcement and protective services with business objectives. Mike joined Acuity in 2020 as a program manager for risk management, supporting U.S. Department of State task orders in Erbil, Iraq, and Mogadishu, Somalia. Prior to joining Acuity, his roles included Law Enforcement Police Commander (Retired), Department of Defense Operations, and Program Manager for U.S. Department of State Security Forces at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. He also served as the Deputy Program Manager for U.S. Security Forces at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

Connect with him at michael.reynolds@acuityinternational.com.

Acuity Spotlight: Lalith Priyanka Wijewickrama Athapattu, Sri Lankan Army

The Acuity Spotlight is our way of highlighting some of the incredibly talented individuals that we’re lucky enough to have on our team. At Acuity, we value diversity and inclusion and focus our attention on bringing candidates who have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences onboard. Our mission is to build enduring relationships that provide secure, stable, and long-term predictable outcomes and we are grateful for the men and women of Acuity who embody our corporate values in everything they do.

Which branch of the military did you serve in?
I served as a member of the Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment for 14 years which is one of two special operations units of the Sri Lankan Army.

What are some of the things you remember about adapting to military life?
Some of the things I remember as part of my adaptation to military life were the discipline required to be a member of the unit and the teamwork that was emphasized throughout the training and continued once assigned to the unit. In addition, the arduous physical and mental training/preparation that I was required to maintain as a member of the unit along with high standards of moral conduct and good behavior that are expected of each member of the regiment. Something that was hard for my family was that they had to adapt and learn that assignment to the regiment meant I would not be at home for long periods of time.

When did you leave the military? What were your first few months out of the service like?
I completed my tour with the Sri Lanka Army in August of 2010. My first few months were hectic because I had to learn how to adapt to civilian life. After leaving the military, I realized the freedom I had and appreciated the opportunity to spend more time with my family.

How would you describe the work you do at Acuity and the impact it is making?
I am happy to be a part of the Acuity team. I have worked as a member of the Balad team for seven years in several different positions in different departments. I enjoy the opportunity to work with people from different cultures who speak different languages.

What is your proudest career moment?
The proudest moment of my military career was when the war ended in Sri Lanka in 2009.

 


About the Author


Lalith Priyanka Wijewickrama Athapattu, Balad Air Base Life Support/Security Services Project, Sri Lankan Army

Acuity Spotlight: Kevin Jackson-Beleski, The United States Air Force

The Acuity Spotlight is our way of highlighting some of the incredibly talented individuals that we’re lucky enough to have on our team. At Acuity, we value diversity and inclusion and focus our attention on bringing candidates who have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences onboard. Our mission is to build enduring relationships that provide secure, stable, and long-term predictable outcomes and we are grateful for the men and women of Acuity who embody our corporate values in everything they do.

Which branch of the military did you serve in?
I served in The US Army

What are some of the things you remember about adapting to military life?
The hardest part of adapting to the Army was learning to cope with the strict regimen. It truly felt like I was starting a new life after graduating from high school. Eight months later I was deployed to Iraq in support of the US mission set. I learned to adapt over time, but it was a definite change.

When did you leave the military? What were your first few months out of the service like?
I got out of the military in June of 2016. The first month was slow; I took time to readjust myself. I took the time to develop a plan and establish priorities for what I wanted to do with my life. I ended up finding the perfect balance of traveling, using my military experience, and being financially stable through the contracting world.

How would you describe the work you do at Acuity and the impact it is making?
I think the work I do at Acuity benefits the relations between Iraq and the United States as well as helps facilitate the demise of terrorist organizations that both countries suffer the effects of.

What is your proudest career moment?
My proudest career moment I would have to say is being afforded the opportunity to progress from one department to another and further use my previous career’s tools and knowledge. The skillsets and knowledge I learned from The US Army were ideal for my transition to the contracting world.


About the Author


Kevin Jackson-Beleski, Balad Air Base Life Support/Security Services Project, Security Directorate, Quick Reaction Force (QRF) Team Member, The United States Air Force