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How much is Lost Time costing you? – The Estimator, April 2021

May 1, 2021 | By Dan Beresford and John F. Wiesel

May 1, 2021 – In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as Lost Time, but the reality is that every day, on every construction site, we have Lost Time. But what is it?

Lost Time is the time we lose each day being unproductive. For example, our prep time before we even start working; morning and afternoon breaks, and lunch; cleaning up; and making the job safe and secure at the end of the day.

This alone takes an hour away from production time.

Throw in late starts, safety talks, early finishes, longer breaks, large projects with more manpower, shorter schedules, poor working conditions, and the Lost Time amount can increase by another 20% to 50%.


In conversations with electricians across Canada, we’ve learned that Lost Time has increased from an hour a day to an hour and a half due to late starts (extra time needed for setup), longer breaks, and early stops (to thoroughly clean up).

In one survey of electrical contractors, Lost Time increased by an additional 56 minutes per day due to Covid-19 prevention activities alone.

When you take all of these factors into consideration, you end up with five and a half hours of production, and a full two and a half hours of Lost Time.

When estimating the hours needed for a job, do you remember to account for Lost Time? How much unproductive time is included in your labour hours? Do you add more for the conditions described above?

Unless you live and work in a perfect world, Lost Time is costing you and eating into your profit.

John F. Wiesel is the president of Suderman Estimating Systems Inc., and has been estimating and teaching estimating since the early 1980s. Dan Beresford served as an electrician in the Canadian Navy, then worked in various roles in the electrical sector before joining Suderman.

This column—along with other great content—appears in the April 2021 edition of Electrical Business Magazine. Even more back issues are located in our Digital Archive.

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