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Monday, October 12, 2015

Human Performance Tools for Construction

© rodriguez
Human factors can affect performance, and, if left unaddressed, they can deeply effect employee safety and health. According to John Isham, CSP, CIH, STS, senior environmental safety and health director at AECOM, managing human factors is the key to delivering an effective safety and health program. Human performance tools teach employees key concepts to improve focus and decision making so employees can avoid making mistakes, he says.

Human performance tools and expectations can play a critical role in the implementation of safety efforts particularly in the construction industry. This November, Isham and Rick Callor, CSP, STS, safety training director of AECOM’s Energy, Infrastructure
and Industrial Construction Group, will discuss the principles of human performance, human performance tools for construction, human performance traps and human performance expectations at ASSE’s Construction Safety Symposium in New Orleans, LA. ASSE recently spoke with Isham about human performance tools and how OSH professionals can uses these tools to manage safety performance specifically in the construction industry

ASSE: What are human performance tools, and how are they effective in preventing injures?
John: Human performance tools or versions of this concept have been available in the nuclear and other critical industries for years. They are formal and often paper intensive to implement. Certain tools have been modified for the construction industry. These tools help the thought process and promote coaching and peer-to-peer oversight. They do not require paper and become tools to use daily to stay on task and to help prevent mistakes and potential incidents. The human performance tools specific for construction include: communication; turnover information; procedure use and adherence; 2-minute rule; peer checking; coaching; trust but verify; questioning attitude; and stop when unsure.

ASSE: Does this strategy target any specific behaviors or types of incidents?
John: This strategy targets human performance traps, which are the various distractions we all face each day including: stress; poor communication; poor instruction; time pressure; not feeling well; multiple tasks; overconfidence; and complacency.

ASSE: How do human performance tools work with existing safety efforts?
John: Human performance tools require the organization to commit to the approach and build in time for employee training, work planning and production of media to keep the program fresh and active.

ASSE: Can you share a compelling success story that you’ve heard personally?
John: Like many companies, AECOM tracks all incidents and near misses. Recently, a near miss was reported related to hoisting. The employee reported that the situation he saw was questionable (questioning attitude) and the work was stopped until the proper safety precautions were in place. This is an example of how the human performance tools can be used with individuals taking actions to keep the workplace safe.

ASSE: How can human performance tools be utilized in construction?
John: The construction industry is no different than the critical industries that have adopted these tools, but in construction there is a need for a less formal process that can address the key tenets of human performance:
  1. People are fallible, and all people make mistakes. 
  2. Error-likely situations are predictable, manageable and preventable. 
  3. Organizational processes and values influence individual behavior. 
  4. People achieve high levels of performance largely because of the encouragement and reinforcement received from leaders, peers and subordinates. 
  5. Events can be avoided through an understanding of the reasons mistakes occur and application of the lessons learned from past events or near misses. 
John Isham and Rick Callor will deliver their presentation, "Human Performance Tools for Construction," on Thursday, Nov. 12, during ASSE's Construction Safety Symposium in New Orleans, LA.

ASSE: What are some health hazard that can be found during demolition, construction or renovation and how do these hazards affect employees, projects and the bottom line? 
Rebecca: In demolition and renovation we are particularly concerned about asbestos, lead-based paint, PCBs and underground storage tanks. All of these issues can effectively halt a project in its tracks and cost major money to correct under time constraints. With newer construction, it’s wise to be aware of the hazardous materials used and how they may apply to new construction.