Constructions Risks? A team can help!

Construction is a high-risk business, from the types of hazardous work being performed to the financial uncertainty of on-time payments and the potential for lawsuits. Once you’ve identified the risk areas in your construction business, you’ll need to gather key people with expertise in your business to build a risk management team. Use this checklist to get started.

Assemble your risk management team

You may already have a project management team that is responsible for planning, scheduling and monitoring your business and construction projects. Use this team’s experience for risk management planning. You can assemble a small group of key employees from specific divisions and work areas to identify the worksite risks, too.

Tips for assembling the team

Include input from each major function that supports your projects, such as finance, estimating, procurement, legal, compliance and front-line management. Appoint a team leader who will be responsible for managing the overall risk management process. Choose a single point of contact for each functional area to keep communication consistent and clear. Create the plan and write it down. Share your risk management plan with everyone on the team. Seek feedback from everyone. Be inclusive. Involve all functional areas and encourage discussion that is free from retaliation or judgment.

Hone your team and keep it focused

Use this checklist as a guide as you get deeper into developing your plan. Make this checklist part of your first meetings and decide on the scope of your plan.

Here are some questions to help focus the team:

  • What is the objective of your project and what key operations and people are involved? What business operations are impacted?
  • What resources need to be deployed? Who are the affected employees?
  • What other plans (business continuity, evacuation, disaster recovery, injury and illness prevention, emergency action) are affected by this plan?
  • If you have no other plans in place, does your current risk management plan also include a team to formally address the creation of additional plans.

State your plan objective — what’s your reason for doing it?

Determine your plan’s objectives (like a mission statement) and use it as an anchor for the framework of your written plan. It’s good for businesses to have a risk management plan, but it’s even better if you can get your team excited about it, too. Here are some sample mission statements for your team:

  • We identify our business’s potential for risk (internal and external) and determine the steps needed to control, transfer, tolerate or eliminate those risks.
  • We provide our business with a written framework for assessing and controlling risk in business operations.
  • Our team demonstrates that the safety and protection of our business, employees and assets is a top priority.
  • We specify all training and auditing procedures to outline the risk mitigation for all employees.
  • We want to make our business safer, more productive and more profitable for all employees by creating and maintaining a living document designed to be preventive instead of reactive.

Clarify the risk management team’s responsibilities

Now that you have a reason for teaming up and supporting one another to make a risk plan, it’s time to define the responsibilities of the team. Here are some questions to consider when assigning team responsibilities:

  • Who will create your risk management plan? Who will assess the risk areas?
  • Who will assign hazard and liability severity levels to each risk area? Who will control and monitor the risk areas (i.e., who is accountable)? Who will coordinate contracts and insurance reviews?
  • How will you protect your workers (personal protective equipment, accident investigation, training)? How will you secure and maintain your property and assets?
  • Who will coordinate with your incident response team? Who will review and update the plan and how often?
  • How will the team gather feedback from each member about their experience in their respective risk area? This feedback loop is critical to gaining buy-in and ensuring that people are not left feeling alone in the process or feeling negative about it.

Now that you’ve got a risk management team in place and a clear focus, you can move into the nitty-gritty of developing the written plan. Remember to support one another! It’s a team effort and an opportunity to improve business functions for everyone.