Monday, May 4, 2009

Avoid extended overtime -- basic

The impact of extended overtime on construction productivity has been studied for over a 40 years. The results of many studies have been consistent, there is a direct negative impact of extended overtime (over 40 hours for more than 2 weeks). There can and are debates to how much impact there will be, but there isn't much argument that extended overtime reduces productivity.

Extended overtime has a multi-pronged impact on the hours required: 1.) Worker fatigue is obvious for most people who have performed physical labor 2.) Outpacing of support services. Basically, since the workers are working more each week, there is a requirement for more planning, engineering support, materials delivery, etc. Many contractors do not increase support, only extend the hours. 3.) Increase accidents and injuries which disrupt crews and site productivity. 4.) Increased absenteeism and turnover. Many workers eventually start taking days off for rest or personal business or persue other work with less demanding hours.

It has been shown that some of the effect of extended overtime can be avoided by creative front-end planning and increased supervision. Many "turnarounds" are successfully completed because they have thorough hour-by-hour planning of the work, extensive support for engineering, materials, tools, equipment, etc and additional supervision during critical times.

The easiest way to avoid extended overtime is to force managers to consider all the other options before they use overtime. In many cases, extended overtime is the first and easiest solution to solve a schedule problem. It has been shown that requiring the consideration of other options is a successful approach to reducing and eliminating extended overtime. The easiest approach is the establishment of a company policy of "no extended overtime" without the president's approval --- this is usually enough of a deterrent that most people will be creative before they will ask for approval

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