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According to The Construction Industry Institute, there are over 107 construction risks to consider when managing a project, including safety hazards, staffing, coordination hurdles, poor documentation, inconsistent reporting, disputes, and more. Ineffective risk management and related decision-making often lead to issues that burden the project throughout the rest of its lifecycle, creating a tedious (and possibly dangerous) cycle of delays and rework.

Organizations need the right resources on and off the jobsite to mitigate these various types of risks and keep projects moving. Without the proper tools, companies can be left cleaning up the pieces—financially and literally. To keep risk assessment and control at the forefront of every project, organizations should implement new and innovative strategies to identify and tackle emerging risks. As technology plays an increasing role in the industry, the digitization of fire and life safety codes and standards can help fortify risk management.

A Modern Approach to Risk Management

Risk management is the process of identifying potential risks within a project and finding prevention methods for those risks. Each new project enduring the design and construction process is unique and comes with its own set of risks, challenges and opportunities. Those risks can come from internal sources, such as poor documentation, or external factors beyond the project officer’s control, such as labor shortages, material cost inflation and natural disasters.

There are three major steps to risk management: identify, measure and implement. Optimizing these three steps can lead to better customer satisfaction, increased safety, better cost management and leaner timelines. This in turn allows construction organizations to expand, gaining the trust of their peers and a strong rapport in the industry.

Digitization, from software to web applications and communication tools, is making great strides in helping to streamline risk management for all stakeholders. The use of modern technology to mitigate risk can afford companies with enhanced visibility and collaboration, timely access to data and a higher quality of work and integrity.

Standard(s) Practice

Fire and life safety codes and standards were created for the very purpose of mitigating risk and ensuring safety. Identifying potential threats by staying on top of the latest standards can highlight vulnerabilities before they become a problem. Once risks are identified, communication is key for prevention. As such, easy digital access to codes and standards is essential to risk management.

With emerging digital platforms, different teams can annotate sections of code with important project notes, bookmark and share sections of code and collaborate across any and all devices. Additionally, below are three areas where digital codes and standards can help mitigate common risks:

  • Documentation: Managing hundreds (or thousands in some cases) of project-related documents and details can be not just a headache, but a source of risk if not done properly. Code requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it’s not uncommon for there to be variances or allowances by the AHJ to use alternative means to meet a specific code requirement. Organizations need one central location where they can document these instances and create a future-proofed digital trail. This helps mitigate risks and avoid delays or issues during construction, inspection, or future renovation.
  • Coordination: According to the 2020 National Construction Payment Report, nearly 70% of contractors reported that poor jobsite coordination causes projects to run over budget or past deadlines, and 54% blame delays on poor coordination between subcontractors. With a digital hub of codes and standards that allows contractors easily access codes on the go and share annotated sections with other subcontractors, coordination can be improved to help resolve compliance disputes and communicate project-specific variances quickly.
  • Design-Related Risks: With timeliness being a primary priority for owners, it’s becoming increasingly common for project teams to accept unfinished designs so that construction can start on time. The team will then work to get the design caught up during construction and back-manage risks. Digitization can help owners, designers, and contractors align more efficiently on fire and life safety codes in the preconstruction planning phase, ensuring vulnerabilities can be flagged and addressed as early and collaboratively as possible. 
Key Takeaways

Digital tools are helping to implement safety measures on the jobsite and mitigate risk for all stakeholders, thus avoiding delays, rework, overspending, client dissatisfaction and brand damage. By leveraging these emerging technologies, project teams can help strengthen documentation and coordination, reduce design-related risks and so much more. 

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