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Construction Company’s Operational Risk Management

Scenario Description

For this scenario, I will assume the role of a manager for a stone masonry contractor. With the assistance of worker representatives, my task is to carry out a general risk assessment connected to standard masonry techniques and procedures. The purpose of this assessment is to demonstrate the company’s approach to worker safety and hazard protection, to win a tender. The document will outline the necessary safety precautions required of the general contractor to assure that the work procedures are carried out safely and properly. The following assessment addresses the operational risks associated with the development of five-story apartment blocks.

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Choosing an Appropriate Risk Assessment Model

There are many risk assessment models currently employed in various aspects of the industry. However, not all of them apply to construction. For this assignment, three risk assessment models were taken into consideration. These models are (Brindley 120):

  • Failure Mode, Effects, and Criticality Analysis (FMEAC)
  • Hazards and Operability Study (HAZOP)
  • Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)

Each of these models has its strengths and weaknesses, which make them eligible for a particular sphere of industry. FMEAC is a system widely implemented in high-risk industries, where failure has dangerous consequences. It sees widespread application in nuclear, military, and space programs. It is a bottom-up analytical method that identifies the processes involved in a particular activity, the chances of failure, and consequences of said failure, both in an isolated case and in conjunction with other consecutive failures (Haimes 49). It allows for increased effectiveness of preventive and remedial activities, which works well for bricklaying, as the process can be easily segmented into sets of basic activities that can be represented via a block diagram.

The second method of risk assessment used in construction is the HAZOP method. It is commonly used in complex operations with a multitude of consecutive processes, to detect and analyze weaknesses that would have otherwise not been found. It involves brainstorming and creative thinking when assessing potential troubling situations, which is why it is also excessively used in software development (Haimes 52). Despite its merits, however, the bricklaying process is straightforward with very little deviations from the process, which is why HAZOP may not be an effective risk assessment instrument for it.

The third method is the FTA, which is the opposite of FMEAC in many ways. It is a top-down assessment tool that begins with identifying potential results of operational failures and then identifying ways of how such a failure could occur (Haimes 60). It helps identify system failure conditions and is utilized in cause-effect eliminations procedures. However, while FTA helps preventing large-scale failures (which is why it is used in pharmaceuticals, software development, and other areas that have critical failure conditions), it is less useful in identifying and preventing small-scale failures and safety hazards associated with manual labor.

Out of these three, I believe that the FMEAC risk assessment methodology is the most efficient. Stonemasonry involves a limited number of clearly-defined operations, which could be analyzed and connected to potential risks that may stem from failures to operate, equipment malfunction, or other incidents not directly related to it.

Risk Assessment Process and Criteria

The risk assessment process involves several stages, which are (Haimes 87):

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  • Identifying potential hazards
  • Identifying potential victims and how workers could be harmed
  • Identifying the risk prevention measures that would need to be taken at the construction site.
  • Identifying the personnel responsible for the implementation, regulation, and enforcement of said measures.

Thus, risk management assessment criteria, by the FMEAC methodology, would involve assessing potential health hazards, potential property damage hazards, and the criticality of the process to the overall construction effort. To identify the hazards, I, as a department manager for my contractor, had to read and assess the Health and Safety in Construction publications available, checked the manufacturing data and instructions for tools and materials implemented in stone masonry, analyzed the bricklaying work process for vulnerabilities and talked to the employees to identify any risks involving work-related practices.

Risk Assessment

No. Risk Name Risk Description Risk Level Damage Process Criticality
1 Falling from a high elevation. Chances of serious injury or even death of a worker upon falling from a height. Low/Medium Very high Low
2 Scaffold collapsing Workers may suffer crush injuries, especially if they were under the scaffold upon its collapse. Low Very high Medium
3 Falling objects Instruments, materials, and other objects falling from height and hurting the workers. Low/Medium High Low
4 Manual handling Workers may suffer a back injury from long-term handling of heavy objects Medium Medium Low
5 Tripping Workers may suffer injuries from slipping or tripping over improperly placed materials, instruments, construction debris, etc. Medium Low-high Low
6 Vehicle and machinery operating hazards Workers may suffer injuries from being stuck, ran over, or otherwise injured by vehicles moving around the construction site or by machinery specifically related to stone masonry. Low/Medium Low/High Medium
7 Eye damage Workers suffering eye damage from sawing bricks, facing construction dust, and other affiliated eye hazards Low Medium Low/Medium
8 Explosion/Fire An explosion or fire occurring as a result of machinery malfunction, flammable materials catching fire, or other incidents related to fire security measures. Very Low Very High Very High

As it is possible to see, the majority of the processes involved in bricklaying have very low criticality to the overall building process while at the same time having high scores for potential health damage. This means that while the occurrence would not stop building construction, it will most likely cause significant injuries to the worker or workers in question. Interdependency between processes is relatively weak, as every individual worker follows an individual chain of production. In case of an injury of one or several workers, the overall building speed will be slowed down but not stopped. The two risks that may have potential implications on other activities and the organization as a whole involve machine-associated failures and fires/explosions. For example, a mortar machine breaking down may halt the entire brick-laying process, whereas an explosion/fire may cause significant damage to the construction site as a whole. The methodology and criteria chosen for this risk assessment effectively reflect on the fact that primary risks in stone masonry are those to workers rather than materials or processes.

Action Plan

A comprehensive action plan is required to eliminate or reduce the chances and effects of particular risks. It must be noted that none of the risks mentioned below can be eliminated, as the process of masonry involves a great degree of the human factor. Therefore, all effort is made to reduce the risks and mitigate the potential damage that workers could suffer in an event of it occurring.

No. Risk Name Actions Planned
1 Falling from a high elevation. Installing additional scaffoldings, ladders, railings, and bandstands to prevent falling (Guo and Goh 140). Ladders are supposed to be fixed in place to prevent falling or losing their footing.
2 Scaffold collapsing Supervision and regular check-ups to ensure that the scaffolding is not overloaded. The construction and maintenance of the scaffolding have to be thoroughly inspected to exclude mechanical breakdown under supposedly tolerable loads (Taroun 108).
3 Falling objects Distribution and enforcement of protective gear among the workers, such as helmets and protective footwear (Dong, et al. 145).
4 Manual handling Heavy loads are to be moved and lifted using telehandlers, loading bays, trolleys, and spot boards. Individual objects and blocks moved by workers should not exceed 15 kilograms in mass (Dong, et al. 147).
5 Tripping Ensuring safe routes to the workplace, maintaining good housekeeping, and ensuring that all instruments, materials, and construction debris do not hinder the movement of the workers (Dong, et al. 146).
6 Vehicle and machinery operating hazards Ensuring safe routes to the workplace, providing brightly-colored vests, conducting safety instruction sessions about vehicle and machinery usage, providing safety gloves and footwear (Dong, et al. 143).
7 Eye damage Providing safety goggles to the workers ensuring their use through appropriate supervision (Taroun 114).
8 Explosion/Fire Flammable materials are to be kept away from electrical tools and appliances and warehoused according to instructions and fire safety measures. Electrical equipment and machinery must be properly maintained to exclude potential accidents and critical malfunctions. The construction site must have a fire emergency plan in place. Fire extinguishers, sand buckets, and other measures against fire should be readily available to the workers. All personnel must be instructed on what to do in case of an explosion or a conflagration. Medical supplies should be readily available in case of injury (Buchanan and Abu 79).

Works Cited

Brindley, Clare. Supply Chain Risks. Routledge, 2017.

Buchanan, Andrew, and Anthony Abu. Structural Design for Fire Safety. Wiley, 2017.

Dong, Xiuwen Sue, et al. “Occupational and Non-Occupational Factors Associated with Work-Related Injuries among Construction Workers in the USA.” International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 142-150.

Guo, Brian, and Yang Miang Goh. “Ontology for Design of Active Fall Protection Systems.” Automation in Construction, vol. 82, pp. 138-153.

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Haimes, Yakov. Risk Modeling, Assessment, and Management. Wiley, 2015.

Taroun, Abdulmaten. “Towards a Better Modelling and Assessment of Construction Risk: Insights from a Literature Review.” International Journal of Project Management, vol. 32, no. 1, 2014, pp.101-115.

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