• Gary Clarkson

Its Design Jim, but not as we know it

A very Happy New year to you all. Here’s hoping it is a safe, healthy and successful one for all.

I thought I might start 2019 by talking about planning and design.

You may recall in my November post I talked about the Construction Design and Management Regulations from the UK and how adopting some simple principles can lead to a successful outcome.

Let's explore this just a bit further.

Everyone has heard of “Safety in Design”, but how many people really understand the principles of what it means?

Steve Jobs of Apple said,

“Design is not just what it looks like and how it feels. Design is how it works.”

I couldn’t agree more, but I would also add that design is also how it is built.

Let me explain.

When we design a project, a structure, a job; we think about a few things, but mainly:

  • The deliverable - what do we want to achieve? how will the structure/installation look and work?

  • Budget - obviously we don’t have a bottomless pit of money so working to a cost is important.

  • Timeframe - downtime is lost time. The end date is important not just to us, but to the client.

But how many of us even consider safety at this design phase?

Taking safety into account at the design phase not only satisfies our moral and legal responsibilities to prevent harm, it also helps us to meet our desired outcomes with added financial certainty and reduced risk of overrunning our delivery date.

Thinking about how we are going to do the job before we start and ensuring we have the correct tools, people, equipment and time to do it properly reduces the likelihood of accidents.

There but for the grace of God go I

Nobody sets out to have accidents, but they happen and sadly they happen all too often.

Accidents cost money and often more money than we give them credit for. The hidden costs of accounts is a well founded principle.

First conceived by Herbert William Heinrich, the accident iceberg has long been established as being an accurate representation of the fiscal outcome of those unplanned events that we all hope to avoid.

Those costs come out of your project budget, operating costs and profits.

So by designing and planning for safety we in effect better manage our costs.

"Lost time is never found again" - Benjamin Franklin

Accidents result in lost time. Whether that is treating an injured person or fixing/replacing damaged plant or materials.

In addition, by failing to consider safety at the design/planning stage we invariably end up trying to sort problems out on the fly - Wasting time in already challenging timeframes.

So why do we continually build in these uncertainties by failing to plan properly and think about all of the components of successful delivery ?

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get" - Warren Buffet

This one is mainly for the project managers and clients out there (but it applies to us all)

Why don’t we consider the total cost of ownership when designing our structures and facilities? and if we do, why do we never include the safety component.

Consider this

Let's assume for round numbers, the life of the building is 50 years.

We change a lamp on average every 2 years and we need a cherry picker to do it.

Hiring a cherry picker to change a lamp = $1500 per day x every 2 years x 50 year lifespan ($37,500)

Training for working at height and operating the plant is $1000 every 2 years ($25,000).

Oh and we need two guys for safety so another $25k.

It would make sense if hiring the plant and causing all that disruption that we change all of the lamps when one of them blows. So we throw out 5 perfectly good lamps at $1000 every 2 years - another $25k

Add in the cost of disruption to the building users.

Imagine the savings by specifying fittings that can be lowered to the ground for maintenance.

Safer and less disruptive for everyone and easily affordable with the over $100k we saved in maintenance costs over the building lifetime.

That my friends is the argument for Safety in Design in a nutshell.

If anyone would like to discuss this topic further, or if you would like assistance with implementing Safety in Design in your business, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Until next time.

Live long and prosper

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