Avoiding Construction Risks

Avoiding construction risks is an everyday critical task in construction project management. The demands involved in completing construction projects means that there are construction risks to the project itself and to every worker on the site. Under legislation, employers are duty bound to ensure the work site is safe for everyone. Legislation, codes and regulations provide a framework for employers to follow to avoid construction risks on the work site.

Regardless of how carefully you manage construction risks you cannot completely avoid them. There will always be unknown factors that impact the construction process at any time in the project. It is important to identify the different types of risks and categorize them before the project starts. This will minimize any losses and help keep everyone safe.

Construction risks fall broadly into the following five categories.

Design risks

Design risks are anything that can stop you from completing a building on schedule. These can include:

  • incomplete designs
  • incomplete surveys
  • designs that do not meet standards
  • an incomplete analysis of the work site for hazardous waste
  • inaccurate assumptions made about technical issues during planning.

Design construction risks can occur when there are changes in the project scope or requirements, or when there are errors or omissions in the design.

Environmental risks

Often people forget to factor in the environmental risks when working in unfamiliar geographical areas. It is essential to become familiar with the area’s weather patterns when working in different regions. By preparing for potential environmental risks you can better manage construction risks. It helps avoid possible losses and delays in the project. Environmental risks can include:

  • local weather (snow, severe storms)
  • natural disasters
  • flood plains and flood ways
  • causing unanticipated barriers to wildlife
  • noise impacts.

Human resource risks

The most common project management risk is the uncertain productivity levels of your workers. Before starting a new project, define the roles and responsibilities of the staff you need to ensure you have the right skills to complete the project. A lack of skilled workers can cause major losses and delays on any project. Human resource risks to consider include:

  • losing crucial workers at critical points in a project
  • contractors walking off the job
  • it takes longer to hire the right resources than expected
  • conflicts between workers on the work site, which can lead to mistakes and poor communication
  • being unable to source the people with the critical skills required
  • inexperienced workers
  • contractors who do not meet delivery timelines.

Project management risks

A project manager faces many variable risks on a construction site. By carrying out risk identification you can avoid or minimize these right from the start. Project management construction risks can include:

  • having little authority to influence resourcing and decision-making
  • the same resources required in different places at the same time
  • timelines driven by external factors rather than listening to estimations from the project team
  • changing priorities on the construction site
  • poorly defined milestones that do not accurately measure the successful completion of each phase.

Stakeholder risks

Stakeholders can slow down the construction process so it is important to identify the construction risks so you can avoid or manage them. These risks can include:

  • taking too long to review or make decisions
  • changes in the requirements
  • poor communication
  • insufficient funds
  • unrealistic expectations
  • making decisions that impact the schedule timeline.

Manage construction risks

Managing construction risks involves identifying, assessing and prioritizing risks. By analyzing, monitoring and controlling these you can minimize or remove them completely.

Identifying risks on a construction project is critical to its success. The earlier you identify construction risks, the sooner you can plan to mitigate the effects. Use construction management software to help manage construction risks.

Identifying risks is an iterative process and it is best to involve everyone right from the start. Comprehensive risk identification helps keep everyone safe on construction sites and assists in producing good results.