Improving Capital Project Safety Performance

In capital project planning and execution, safety should always be emphasized higher than reducing cost or achieving faster schedules. IPA measures project safety drivers and outcomes to help capital project owner companies improve safety performance.

Owner Companies Should Be Concerned About Construction Safety

The injury rate in the construction industry is higher than many other industry sectors, with fatality and injury incident cases showing little improvement in recent years. Owners must take an active role in improving construction safety for many reasons, the most important being that it is simply the right thing to do.

Capital Project Safety Trends to Consider

Having studied capital project safety performance for decades, IPA has observed the following:

  • Well-prepared projects have better safety performance: Achieving excellent drivers in Front-End Loading Index, Team Development Index, and Project Control Index, correlates with fewer recordable incidents
  • Smaller, site-based projects tend to be safer than larger capital projects and complex megaprojects
  • Projects executed using a lump sum construction contract tend to experience worse safety performance
  • Project safety varies by industry sector, with mining, minerals, and metals, pipelines, and pharmaceutical projects having worse safety performance than oil refining and commodity chemicals projects
  • Higher levels of technology innovation introduce safety risks

IBC Companies Have Better Safety Performance

The Industry Benchmarking Consortium (IBC) is a voluntary association of owner firms in a variety of industries that employ IPA’s quantitative benchmarking approach. As shown below, IBC member companies perform significantly better in safety than the rest of the United States construction industry in both DART (days away, restricted duty or transfer) and recordable incidents.

How IPA Helps Improve Construction Safety

IPA has evaluated thousands of capital projects executed by companies around the world, and safety is one of the first outcomes discussed. Safety metrics are included in all IPA project evaluations and system benchmarkings, and is the first outcome metric reported at IPA’s annual IBC meeting. Our project analysts collect core performance numbers for each project, including: total construction hours, fatalities, DARTs, other recordable incidents, near misses, and first-aid cases. IPA uses this data to help project organizations improve safety performance in several ways:

  • Recognize early in the scope development phase the likelihood of high safety risks based on project characteristics
  • Determine specific project definition phase practices to improve safety performance
  • Identify specific execution phase project practices proven to drive improved safety outcomes
  • Benchmark an organization’s capital project safety performance against others
  • Implement practices to establish a proactive project safety culture

Client Testimonials

Founded in 1987, IPA is the world’s leading advisory firm on capital projects. We are a benchmarking, research, and consulting organization devoted to the empirical research of capital projects and project systems. Our work is continuously validated by our clients who routinely compare our predictions with actual results and verify that our recommendations yield business value.

“This [analysis] will help improve our ability to get [the] project completed on schedule, and within budget without compromising safety and quality.”

– United States chemicals
facility expansion

“The [IPA] team really understood the value of risk analysis and its inputs into the cost planning and schedule planning. The same applies to constructability and safety analysis.”

– Metals processing facility
project in Brazil

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