Skanska’s Construction Work Plan (CWP) Helps Create Efficient, Effective and Consistent Planning For Construction Work Activities
Construction planning is an indispensable activity in the management and realization of construction projects. It involves technology, work tasks, estimates and required resources and durations for individual tasks, and the identification of interactions among the different work tasks.
Skanska developed the Construction Work Plan tool (CWP), a Windows-based excel spreadsheet, to enable efficient, effective, and consistent planning for construction work activities. The tool has been used by thousands of Skanska team members all over the country. The purpose of this article is to share how the CWP marries safety planning with lean methodologies, and to encourage its adoption as an industry standard. The intended audience for the tool are construction personnel — general contractors (GCs), trade partner project managers, field leadership, crews, EHS professionals, and owners.
The CWP has been utilized on Skanska Civil Northeast projects for 12 years. Skanska USA, including Building and Civil business units are now using this tool on all projects moving forward, due to the success rate realized from the Northeast.
The tool allows for complete engagement from the entire project team: field crew through project manager. Each team member has a part to play in the creation of the plan.
Skanska team members have integrated the CWP throughout one of the most exciting, innovative projects currently underway — the San Francisco Transbay project. The Transbay transit terminal in San Francisco is a major transportation hub, and a major roadway connector. Skanska in California has hired their own iron workers for the job and many of them are new workers straight out of the union hall. The CWP has helped them get up to speed.
“Our iron workers and subcontractors have utilized the CWP on several multi-million dollar phases of the San Francisco Transbay project,” said Valerie McNulty, CHST, Environmental Health and Safety Manager, Transbay Transit Center - Interiors/Finishes, Skanska USA Building Inc. “CWP gives subcontractors the ability to focus on the hazards and a process to mitigate hazards. There was a training curve for them and presently they are using the tool for higher risks like confined space entry, crane picks and complicated material deliveries.”
“Subcontractors liked having CWP in the field and could refer back to it when questions arose. They said it greatly prepared them for equipment and material requests. Because it is so detailed, more than a Pre-Task-Plan (PTP), they review it with any new crew member prior to work starting,” said McNulty.
How does CWP work?
All project team members edit a master copy of the file which contains the following:
• Project team contact information
• Emergency action plans
• Muster points — designated areas where all employees, passengers, or a large crowd assemble in case of an emergency in an installation, building, public place or a watercraft.
• Environmental aspects
• Hazards that are unique and specific to the project, such as traffic or pedestrian concerns, or offloading areas
After the title page is created, the file is sent to every subcontractor working on the project. The subcontractor’s project team develops a plan for each scope of work which will be executed, by breaking the scope down into task elements, and choosing which “triggers” apply to those elements. These triggers are categorized by environment, equipment, tools, and materials. After the triggers are selected, the tool automatically populates a level of risk associated with the selected triggers, along with the respective engineering and administrative controls to mitigate the potential hazard. The end result is a robust living planning document, which is kept in the field to review with all crews performing the work.
After reviewing the construction work plan, the crews develop a Daily Hazard Analysis, which incorporates any potential environmental or other hazards present in the area where they will be executing the task that day (for example, heat/cold, lighting, access issues). The crew updates the construction work plan in the field with any lessons learned, things that are going well, innovations to the work method, or changes that need to be made. This information is then turned into the field supervisor, so that the construction work plan may be revised as necessary as the project moves along. All revisions can be shared among team members. Tasks which are unique to a specific job site should have tailored hazards and controls.
The tool engages the project team’s trigger selections for the task, with the appropriate control. The plan then automates the controls necessary to mitigate associated hazards in the plan, e.g. if ladders must be used to perform the task, what height of ladder should be made available to the crew, and inspection, proper set-up, and usage protocol. Information is populated based on selected triggers.
When you pull up the construction work plan, it becomes very clear what the electricians and fitters are supposed to be doing and the proper and safe sequence of work embedded in the process. EHS can also ask key questions about potentially introducing new hazards.
The CWP plan accounts for every major task in great detail including pipe demo, installing conduit, confined space entry, grinding floor coatings, etc. You can even use the tool for tasks you perform at home!
“The tool allows all members of the work crew to operate with the same knowledge of needs to complete the task and it allows for tools and materials to be readily available before the task begins, so crew members stay where the work is,” said Skanska foreman Jeff Whaley. “CWP even helps reduce the amount of power or energy used on the job site as team members can plan work and schedule contractors during certain hours (daylight) if working outside to minimize equipment rental to illuminate work spaces. The tool facilitates planning to minimize mobilization several different times a day with work trucks and forklifts, reducing fuel consumption, too.”
Like most workplace technology/communication resources, the CWP is only as good as the specific data entered. That’s why collaboration and upfront discussions are critical, including pull planning which involves working from a target completion date (milestone) backward. In effective pull planning, tasks are defined and sequenced so that their completion releases work. Work tasks, information flow, and material deliveries are planned based on the request (or “pull”) of downstream customers.
CWP helps identify opportunities to improve efficiency and safety, ultimately providing a mechanism to implement Lean methodologies as part of the planning process. The construction work plan tool may be applied to any construction related activity and/or trade type. When this tool has been implemented effectively on construction projects, improved safety performance has been noted, comparable to projects not utilizing the tool.
“The CWP works well for companies with seasoned EHS programs because it helps identify items which may have been overlooked or not considered previously, as well as companies who are in the early stages of developing their safety program. It is a tool to continuously improve the work method, which ultimately breeds innovation,” said Jennifer McMullen, Skanska.
How does this all this tie into lean? Much knowledge is gained and understood by filling out information before you go to work. Users can determine which types of tools, equipment, and materials will be used, such as: concrete, drills, grinders, forklifts, and scaffolding to accomplish key tasks, so workers already have these tools packed and ready in the field. No searching or wondering. You’re ensured that you’re using the best tool for the job. Less time wasted.
It also allows crews to better plan material handling methods, by preparing ahead of time how they will lift and move materials using mechanical means versus attempting to manually carry, lift, push or pull. These types of manual material handling tasks tend to be a very large contributor to construction workforce injuries.
Before and After
So how were things done before the tool was introduced? There was a lot of winging it and overcompensation due to lack of knowledge. It was an attitude of grab every tool in the tool bag and go to work because you never knew exactly what you needed.
“Being able to have all team partners view the work scope, hazards and goals, allows for better communication, and cooperation among crews,” said Whaley.
Now all members of the crew, from the project team to the field, can participate in the planning process for fostering a diverse perspective and input from varied backgrounds and experience levels.
“While CWP may appear a bit overwhelming at first glance, we’re working on incorporating better visuals and improved automation,” said McMullen. “We’ve come a long way since the days of the dusty binder/paper-based job hazard analysis that’s been sitting on a shelf for years, and developed in an office by people not typically involved with the actual work.”
Good News for All
The ultimate goal is to share this approach throughout the construction industry, to ensure all tasks have adequate planning in place, to improve safety, and to ensure a more efficient plan is in place to execute the work. The plan has a built-in feedback loop, so continuous improvement and innovation occur in real time.
It’s possible to look at tools and materials before you get to work. You are ensured that they’re available in the field because proper planning has occurred which improves efficiency. There’s greater awareness of inherent hazards for working with a lot of scenarios — a contributor to injuries. You don’t have to to wing it. That’s why the tool exists.
CWP forces engagement and consistency: A more consistent process and ongoing engagement from project teams which breeds improved safety performance and efficient construction operations.
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