Pre-task planning is a "process performed before a task starts to discuss the steps of work, the hazards and available controls," according to the CPWR Center for Construction Research and Training.
A recent CPWR webinar led by Babak Memarian, the organization's director of exposure control technologies research, tackled the steps to developing, implementing and assessing a successful PTP strategy at your construction company:
1. Break the task into manageable steps.
Breaking up a task into smaller steps makes it easier to identify hazards associated with each step and helps workers better understand the hazards. This also allows for effective planning and implementation of appropriate controls.
2. Specify hazards associated with each step.
Identifying, discussing and addressing the hazards helps workers better prepare for potential challenges.
3. Identify ways to control each hazard.
After identifying hazards associated with each step, controls must be put in place to keep workers safe and healthy. When hazard elimination isn't feasible, other solutions must be considered and implemented.
4. Identify who is responsible for implementing the controls.
Assigning specific staff members to implement controls outlined in the PTP ensures they are done properly and in a timely manner.
5. Discuss permit requirements.
It is crucial to ensure that workers who perform the task are aware of required permits and their status.
6. Discuss hazards posed by other crews working nearby.
In addition to your workers’ primary tasks, hazardous conditions can also be caused by other crews. The hazards and proper controls need to be discussed with all crew members during PTP meetings.
7. Give workers the opportunity to lead the PTP meeting.
PTP meetings are typically led by a supervisor, like the crew foreman. But rotating this role among other team members can create a sense of shared responsibility for safety and improve employee buy-in.
8. Provide training to employees who conduct the PTP meeting.
Training workers and crew supervisors who lead the PTP meetings is essential, so they conduct them in a consistent manner. Focus on presentation skills and encourage meeting leaders to ask essential questions to encourage worker interaction and engagement.
9. Gather and incorporate workers' feedback on the PTP process.
Obtaining workers’ feedback helps managers understand whether the information is accurate, comprehensive and relevant. Workers may be able to point out a potential hazard that has not been discussed or a control that is not working as expected.
"If we want to get a good understanding of the issues in the process, if we do really want to find the gaps and shortcomings, we need to go and talk to our users," said Memarian. "And workers are the main users of this process. Every day they deal with it, and they will have the best understanding of the process. They know all the challenges and issues better than anyone else. We need to get them involved and constantly ask their feedback."
10. Use photos or other visual aids instead of text when possible.
Replacing text with visuals—such as photos, diagrams or flowcharts—can help improve workers’ understanding of PTP information. They also help workers with different literacy levels or those with language barriers. Examples include photos showing the correct way to wear PPE, proper use of tools or site maps showing key locations and other trades.
11. Use educational aids like a whiteboard or live demo.
Replacing text-only documents with aids that make the PTP process more interactive can help workers better understand and retain thecontent. They are also helpful for workers with language barriers or different literacy levels.
12. Include supplemental information.
Typically, PTP strategies address issues related to safety and health. In addition , provide supplemental information to give workers a holistic view of the jobsite and the project. Some examples include site layout, evacuation and emergency plans, work schedule and specific types of PPE.
"When we use a checklist like this, if we save them and analyze them, throughout the project lifecycle we can see where we have the majority of issues," said Memarian, as well as which issues were most frequent in a specific project.
Additionally, for each PTP, Memarian said it is vital to:
- Conduct the PTP before each task starts.
- Conduct daily walkthroughs on the jobsite and involve workers.
- Update and communicate PTP content when conditions change.
"Daily walkthroughs help management understand what is happening on the jobsite," said Memarian. "Construction jobsites are dynamic and constantly change."
Conducting a post-job or end of shift review creates time to briefly discuss issues that occurred during the shift, safety and health concerns, and adjustments needed for the next day. These reviews, along with daily walkthroughs, can help you assess and revise your PTP process throughout the project’s lifecycle.
"We want to see what worked and what didn't work … where we had issues or problems," said Memarian.