As a child you probably remember your grandmother always telling you, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” You had no way of knowing it at the time, but this advice was giving you the basic premise for a successful loss prevention program. Preventing loss before it happens will have the single most profound effect on your end result.
The key, of course, is to look for possible loss and remove the circumstances that could cause it to occur. This may seem like common sense, but there is one important trick. Most project managers are competent when it comes to identifying the obvious such as the need to fence in the job site to prevent intruders or to have adequate access to the job site from the outside in the event you need the fire department. However, what is most important in loss prevention is preventing the less obvious from happening.
Take for example, your tools. You probably already keep tools and equipment in a locked area at all times when not in use. But have you thought of stamping tools with an identification number? Having them labeled with ID numbers will assist police in recovery efforts if they are stolen. Another variation on this theme is to paint the handles with bright, unusual colors. Nothing stops a thief quicker than merchandise that can be easily identified.
Working with combustibles always presents a challenge when it comes to managing loss prevention. All flammable liquids should be stored in appropriate safety containers and removed a safe distance from hot work and potential sparks. If distancing the liquids is a problem because of space, non-combustible shields should be properly positioned around the liquid containers. As an added precaution, a fire watch of the liquids should be maintained for at least a half-hour after the hot work is completed. All combustible waste generated during the work should be cleaned up immediately. Oily rags should be separated and stored in metal containers with tight fitting lids. Fire extinguishers should also be strategically placed on the job site so they are available at all times.
When you’re on the job site, remember your project impacts the community even before it is finished. Keep in mind that we live in a litigious society and many losses on a construction project can be attributed to lawsuits brought against a company by injured pedestrians. It is important to be sure all electrical cords that pass through pedestrian areas are securely taped down so that accidental tripping is avoided. Likewise, all mud or water on public traffic areas should be cleaned regularly to avoid accidental falling by passersby.
Another area of consideration is when your work has an impact on other consumer services. Be sure to contact the local utilities before you perform any excavations. They can make you aware of the location of underground power lines or pipe work before they are inadvertently severed and you find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit.
In retrospect, the best way to exercise an ounce of prevention is to ensure that the project complies with all applicable codes and standards. They are designed to assist you not only when it comes to protecting your project from loss, but also when it comes to ensuring you have a quality project when it is completed.