Individual Improvement Through Collaboration | Jason Edic, Director of Environmental Health & Safety, Lee Kennedy, Co
Should a construction manager or general contractor ever pose the following question to a subcontractor – ‘How can I, as a CM, improve your company’s safety?’ – the answer would likely take some serious thought. Answering this question requires a construction manager (for the purposes of this article, the term construction manager will be synonymous with general contractor) to walk in the shoes of their subcontractors, as well as the trade people that build the project.
Here’s the problem: despite the best intentions of every subcontractor, their burden regarding safety is oftentimes overwhelming, and always inefficient. This is not a slight on the subcontractor, but rather on us CMs. Picture the Boston construction market. Now picture the CMs that manage this market, and finally picture the safety programs for these CMs. You’ll notice that the safety programs for all of the CMs are fundamentally the same. In other words, the bones of our safety program are nearly identical. We require subcontractors to bid certain safety requirements, submit project-specific safety plans, submit job hazard analyses, attend orientation, provide hoisting plans for crane operations, etc., etc. This is not to say that the safety climate is the same with all CMs, but rather our basic programs have an undeniable commonality. The burden for our subcontractors lies in the necessity to adapt to minor differences in safety programs every time they move from CM to CM, project to project. A project manager, superintendent or foreman must change, in minor ways only, how they manage safety depending on which CM they’re building for.
As an example, almost all CMs require trades to provide a detailed, written plan for their operations, commonly referred to as a pre-task plan. Some CMs require a particular form or document, and require them at different intervals (daily, weekly, per operation, etc.). What if CMs agreed to a standardized form and delivery? The work that subcontractors perform, except for constraints and logistics – time and space, does not change substantially from job to job – framing walls is basically framing walls. What if every trade across the city could walk onto any major CM’s job, and know exactly what to expect, because it was the same as the last project with a different CM? What if every crane company in Boston utilized a standard hoisting plan that met the basic requirements of all CMs? The result would be a very noticeable increase in efficiency, with a large decrease in learning curve. Translation: more efficient = better product = healthier and safer outcome for the trades people. It’s much easier to learn something once and perfect it over time by repeating it, than it is to learn new requirements continuously.
It is this thought process that led several Boston CMs to create a new group with this goal in mind. Safety professionals from Shawmut, Consigli, Columbia, Lee Kennedy, Turner, Dimeo, Suffolk, JMA, Bond, Lendlease and Skanska have partnered with the AGC to make this a reality. The Boston Construction Managers Safety Partnership has the following mission: The Boston CMSP is a group of experienced and passionate construction safety professionals from the leading CMs in the Boston region. Our mission is to align CMs on key issues that impact the safety of construction trades people in the Boston area. We will achieve this mission by (1) determining key issues that will improve efficiency and consistency among Boston’s subcontractor base in regards to execution of safety, (2) developing strategies, policies and practices that create consistent and streamlined execution of safety on construction projects across all CMs, (3) engaging experienced and expert personnel from Boston’s trade representatives, trades people and subcontractor core to aid in the development of these strategies, policies and procedures, and (4) implementing these strategies, policies and procedures across all of the CMSP members’ projects.
It's worthy to note here that the intent of this group is not to remove the individual identities of CMs and their safety programs, but rather to find common ground by which we can make our subcontractors’ efforts more efficient. We all share the same subcontractor pool, and the majority of the actual construction that takes place on any project is by our subcontractors. The potential gain for each individual CM is great. For more information about the Boston CMSP and its initiatives, please contact Chris Ziegler Ziegler@agcmass.org
About the author
Jason Edic is the Director of Environmental Health and Safety for Lee Kennedy, Co., Inc. Jason also serves as the Board Chair of the Boston Construction Managers Safety Partnership.
The Boston CMSP is a group of experienced and passionate safety professionals from the leading general contractors in the Boston region. Their mission is to align general contractors on key issues that impact the safety of construction trades people in the Boston area. Learn more at www.agcmass.org/boston-cmsp