Lost Time and How Much is It Costing You?

March 20, 2023

We've all heard the saying "Time is money", and there are few places where this applies more than in construction. Each day on a construction site means lost time. If we were living in a perfect world, lost time wouldn't exist; however, this isn't a perfect world, and lost time is simply reality. But what exactly is lost time on a construction site?

Simply put, lost time is all the added-up time spent being unproductive on site. Consider the amount of time you or your team spend on prep time before your work even begins, breaks throughout the day, cleanup, and the time spent assessing the job for safety at the end of the day. These things alone could account for an hour a day taken away from production time. When you add that up with safety meetings, late starts, early finishes, breaks that go on a little too long, bigger projects that require more manpower, tight schedules, subpar working conditions, that lost time can increase by up to an additional 50%.

Conversations with electricians across the US have shown us that lost time in construction has seen an increased from an hour to an hour and a half a day, largely due to the following:

  • extra time needed for setup due to late starts
  • longer breaks
  • stopping early for a thorough cleanup
  • lack of safety measures that lead to injury

One survey of electrical contractors showed us that Covid-19 prevention measures resulted in an additional 56 minute per day increase in lost time. When all of these factors are taken into consideration, you're easily looking at approximately five and a half hours of production and two and a half hours of lost work time. It's critical to know your specific company's biggest time-wasters and take the necessary steps to rectify them.

If you're on the jobsite, safety and orderliness is not something you should skimp on. Here are a few practical steps you can take to keep things running smoothly and maximize your company's time:

1.) Don't Take Shortcuts.

Take the time to ensure that your work instructions are clear and updated, and encourage your team to do the same. Solid communication reduces the risk of injury due to workers being unclear on the proper steps of their performing their job.

2.) Keep a Clean House.

Junk and debris can add up quickly on a job site, and the more that accumulates increases the likelihood of employee injury. Train your team to clean up as they go to eliminate clutter.

3.) Keep Equipment Maintained.

It's not enough just to do standard equipment maintenance. Don't skip out on actual monthly safety operation inspections, where you'll thoroughly inspect and test each piece of equipment and vehicle to know whether it's safe to use or need to be repaired or replaced. Many accidents on the job site due to poorly maintained equipment. 

When it comes time to estimate hours needed to complete a job, are you remembering to account for lost time? Do you plan to have unproductive time incorporated into your labor hours? Are you adding additional time for the conditions mentioned above? Look at lost time as something that is eating into your profit unless you plan properly. 

Are you a contractor? It goes without saying that the time and money that is robbed from companies during the course of just a year can adversely affect a company's revenue. Contractors especially must be more attentive to giving clear direction and actually involving their employees in learning methods to reduce lost time. By having proper procedures in place, you will empower your company to mitigate time wasters and cut job costs accordingly.

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