- Safety management and Quality control in Construction.
- Total quality management in the construction industry.
- Safety Management.
- Why are safety management and quality control important?
Execution of any construction project is a difficult and economically significant task. Any construction activity substantially impacts the parties involved, which is the owner, the construction company, and the intended users.
The concepts of safety management and quality control are being paid significant attention to as they are intertwined in the execution of the project.
Managing safety is difficult, particularly for construction projects because it involves working with large and powerful machinery and equipment. Often work needs to be carried out in hazardous places and unpleasant environments.
Managing safety, therefore, becomes challenging and needs careful planning and great managerial fortitude.
Since the level of safety directly influences the execution process and ultimately the success of the project and the construction company, it is important to understand how to manage safety at the construction site.
Quality on the other hand is another important aspect of construction management, and quality control of construction projects is of utmost importance for their successful completion.
Safety and quality are interconnected, for example, a construction site that is not safe is more likely to suffer from quality issues and the project is also likely to get delayed.
These are vast fields of study in their own right and deserve careful study. We will, however, briefly touch upon these concepts in construction management below.
Quality control and Safety management in Construction.
It is a continuous process of monitoring the progress and the performance of the project against a pre-defined set of quality standards.
Quality control is a part of the methodology of total quality management.
It involves inspecting for any discrepancies and formulating plans for their correction.
Controlling helps ensure that the project is executed in conformity with the specifications laid out in the contract.
Quality control in construction
Quality control in construction involves testing and inspection of materials that are directly incorporated in the structure and the equipment that is used in building it. It also involves inspection of the methods used in construction.
Testing the strength of concrete used in a construction project is an example of quality control.
The nature of the project and the type of department or organization commissioning the work, determine the methods used for the purpose.
Tools for quality control
Image attribution: Jake Choules / Public domain
Many tools are used for controlling quality in a construction project, however, the tools used depend on the nature and complexity of the project as there are certain costs involved in quality management.
Some of the tools used include:
- Checklists or check sheets. A check sheet is the most basic tool of quality control used everywhere. It is a basic form where data is recorded and tabulated. You essentially check off a list of items like in a To-do list.
- A checklist is very easy to understand and use but it is not very effective in analyzing the bigger problems of a project.
- Check sheets can be of many types. They are normally drafted considering the nature and complexity of the processes of the construction in mind.
- Fishbone diagram. Also known as the Cause-and-Effect Diagram, it is a visual representation of problems and their causes. It is used for exploring the potential causes of problems and ranking them in order of their probability. It is given this name because it looks like a skeleton of a fish.
- Control chart. Also known as the Shewhart control chart. It helps in finding variations in processes and correcting the problems.
- Pareto chart. Named after an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, it is a type of bar chart that gives a visual representation of problems and their causes. It is used to find nonconformity so that quality could be improved.
- Histogram. It is a commonly used tool that helps in identifying the frequency of events. It can be used to indicate how often defects occur.
- Scatter Diagram. It is a diagrammatic representation of the relationship between different variables. It helps in identifying relationship (if any) between variables and the kind of relationship (weak, strong, positive, negative)
These tools are used for doing an analysis of the quality of the project and determining the areas where quality needs to be improved.
Methods of quality control
There are many methods that quality managers use to control the quality, some of which include:
Inspection is the most common method used for controlling quality. It involves inspecting the raw materials used in the project like steel, cement, concrete, bricks, timber, etc.
There are various methods of inspecting these items and various guidelines have been laid out for the purpose. The inspecting authority has to conduct inspections regularly and determine the quality of the materials. It is very difficult to ascertain the quality of the materials once used.
Analysis of Samples:
It involves collecting samples like concrete cubes like in the case of P.C.C and sending them to a certified testing laboratory. It might require the setting of a sample collection facility on the construction site to facilitate the testing.
PDCA Plan Do Check Act cycle is a method of quality control often used in construction.
- Analyzing the quality of the project.
- Comparing it with the standards and implementing the quality plan.
- Monitoring or checking the impact of the actions taken.
- Revising the standards after analyzing the measures that were effective in the previous step.
It is a methodology used primarily in controlling quality in manufacturing. It is nowadays being used in the construction industry to increase productivity and reduce defects.
Six sigma has five phases and they are:
- Defining the problem.
- Measuring the current performance of the process.
- Identifying the cause of the problem.
- Improving the process using the data collected in previous phases.
- Controlling i.e. sustaining the progress achieved.
Apart from these various tools like control charts, histograms ,etc are also used.
Total quality management
Total quality management is an approach practiced throughout the organization for ensuring continual quality improvements.
Applying the principles of total quality management in the construction industry is challenging but has numerous benefits.
The Key Elements of TQM
The following are the key elements fundamental to TQM:
- The commitment of the leadership- the persons at the helm of affairs should be committed towards quality.
- Culture Change- It involves changing employee’s behavior, and attitudes towards quality.
- Planning & Organization- It involves planning the approach to be taken towards quality management.
- Education and Training- Educating employees and making them aware of the implications of quality and giving them proper training.
- Involvement, recognition, and measurement.
- Customer focus and satisfaction.
- Strategic Quality Planning.
- Cost of quality.
- Supplier involvement.
Safety management is one of the functions of construction management and means employing safe practices to eliminate injuries and accidents on a construction site.
It involves the use of various tools and methods that have been tested and determined safe for conducting a specific work.
It is important to develop a system that would have all the procedures and guidelines laid out so that safety could be managed easily.
Safety policies are drafted for this purpose and safety assurance plans are made as it is one of the most important aspects of construction management. Paying inadequate attention to safety can lead to disastrous outcomes.
A safety management system includes:
- Identification of all safety hazards– all potential hazards are identified and each hazard is associated with the risk it posses.
- Establishing risk management procedures– to manage the risk arising from hazards some procedures are laid down.
- Continual monitoring– the risk management procedures are continually monitored for any discrepancies.
- Continual improvement– any discrepancies are corrected and their causes identified.
Some of the most commonly used safety practices revealed by a study include:
- Analyzing Potential Hazards in the preconstruction stage of the project.
- Conducting regular safety audits.
- Appointing Project Safety personnel.
- Developing a Site Specific Safety Plan.
- Conducting training programs for workers and subcontractors.
Why are safety management and quality control important?
It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss all the advantages and implications of implementing safety and quality management systems, but some of them include:
Reduction of costs, which are the primary concerns of any construction manager. It is done by increasing efficiency and optimizing working conditions.
The results of the study mentioned earlier on project safety suggest that the adoption of safety practices can have the following benefits among others:
- Faster Project Schedule– projects get executed on schedule.
- Higher Project ROI– the return on investment on the projects is higher when safety and quality control measures are used.
- Decreased Project Budget.
- Reduced injury rates, which leads to higher productivity.
The same study also showed that good safety program also improves competitiveness and reputation, both of which help attract talent in the already talent deprived industry.
To sum it up Quality and safety are the two most important aspects that must be focused on during the entire process of construction.
It might sometimes be necessary to spend more money on things that indirectly lead to better quality and safety like training, research, and development, etc.
Investing in such things is however a better option for any company that wants to stay in business.
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