The Construction Industry Institute (CII) defines field rework as, “Activities that have to be done more than once or activities that remove work previously installed as part of a project.” An industry-wide occurrence, rework can be prompted by a number of causes (including client change orders), significantly degrading project cost, schedule performance, and as we at PCL have learned, safety performance.
The connection between safety performance and rework was highlighted in June on a PCL project when a subcontractor was replacing improperly sized rebar around windows and failed to adequately plan the work. As a result, he failed to identify potential hazards. Because the work was inadequately planned, the worker violated basic fall protection requirements in an effort to get the rework done. Unfortunately, he fell 14 feet breaking his leg and arm.
CII research has indicated that worker involvement and awareness is needed to resolve the continuing problem of rework. Specifically, the research team found that increasing training on quality issues, identifying quality rework problem areas, increasing full-time quality staff, and having field personnel analyze pre-task quality efforts all contribute to less rework. Worker involvement and awareness are also needed to reduce safety incidents associated with rework.
A significant number of recordable injuries in the construction industry occur during rework and changed work. My analysis shows that while the number of incidents involving rework is not high, many involved serious injuries. Investigations indicate that in many instances rework and changed work occurs without sufficient planning or careful consideration of safety hazards and corrective actions. Because this rework is frequently performed out of sequence with the original plan, workers often do not invest the same amount of effort in preplanning the rework tasks as we would when doing the work the first time.
So, what to do? First, our quality initiatives and the continued assessment of Quality Incident Reports (QIRs) are essential to reducing rework. Second, our workers, subcontractors, and supervisors must be made aware of the safety risks inherent in rework so that they recognize the need to use the same (or greater) level of effort when planning to safely perform the rework tasks as was done the first time.
An effective method to increase worker awareness of this issue is to discuss the importance of carefully planning all rework and changed work tasks in the project's morning meeting and foremen’s weekly meeting. Also, we may consider placing a hold on rework and change orders until it can be elevated above the foreman level for review by management, revisions to the JHA are completed and the craft workers understand the new precautions.
While rework cannot always be avoided, especially due to client change orders, we can overcome the risks by recognizing that the work will change, taking the time to properly plan and implement the change, and learning from past incidents involving rework.