As severe weather month comes to a close it is important to plan how to protect your job site from severe weather. From flooding, to blizzards, to tropical storms, to tornado, to extreme heat, all types of weather impact the productivity and safety to a project. The safety of the team members and risk impact on the project are both critical to the overall success. As we discuss some simple items to prepare your job site, stop and think how your project would be impacted if there was a natural disaster.
1. Have a plan:
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is by far the minimum that should be done for every project, plan for the what ifs and the likelihood of a weather event happening relevant to that area. Just having good insurance is not enough for a plan. Insurance may help cover the damage, but it doesn’t cover lost time, the added stress of fixing what has been destroyed, the possibilities that some items aren’t easily replaced (special tools, materials, or equipment that has lead time). A good plan needs to have action items, individuals responsible for those items, and the chain of events to stop work and prepare for the unexpected event.
For example, on every project that is expected to have snow throughout the course of the project, there needs to be a plan in the case of a blizzard, and the more likelihood plan of snow removal for the project. There needs to be one individual responsible for arriving early each morning in the event of snow that clears the pathways on the job site to allow access for all other workers. In the less likely case of a blizzard, there must be a responsible weatherman that, at a certain point, will call off work the next day in expectation of the catastrophic event. At the close of work the day prior there should also be protocols for securing and storing important items on the job site.
2. Expect the unexpected:
Don’t rely on the notion that it hasn’t happened before, or something was engineered to withstand this type of weather. The patterns of weather today are drastically different than the patterns of the past and on many accounts, we are breaking historical norms. If you are in an area that has a 100-year flood zone, expect to have that 100-year flood during the duration of the project. If you are in an area that is near rivers or waterways, don’t expect the levy to withstand the weather today that was designed 60 years ago for a drastically different time. It isn’t the rain that will impact the project, but the broken levy which allowed the flooding to happen near the area.
3. Own Your Responsibilities:
Where most plans fail is the link in communication and accountability. “I thought so and so was taking care of it” or “I didn’t know that was on me” are typical responses after something unexpected has occurred. Something that I saw recently on a project was a large poster which stated, “What do I own” and it had a section for each department and the items they are fundamentally responsible for including the management and the main office. In your plan individual positions need to be identified and therefore individuals held responsible for performing tasks, notifying others, or getting people involved in securing the project.
4. Change Your Plan:
This may seem like it doesn’t belong, but it is crucial to a project’s success. No two projects are exactly alike and as people notice or believe there is a better way, the plan itself needs to change and those changes communicated to the other team members. Having a plan that is stagnant and sits on the shelf is a plan that is destined not to be used and eventually forgotten.
Unfortunately, severe weather is both unexpected and uncontrollable. Taking the time to stop, think of the possibilities, making a plan and adjusting it seems like a very simple and no-brainer item, but unfortunately most people don’t do it. Those that do, many times become complacent and go through the motions, not adjusting the plan as necessary. Preparing your job for severe weather is not rocket surgery, but it is something that needs to be communicated on all levels and taken seriously in the world we live in today. Be safe and stay moving.