The Construction And Operations ProcessJuly 20, 2018
The design, plan and preparation phase of the construction cycle is completed and the mandatory state agencies and other relevant organizations have been notified of the intended project activities with the required information on their expected roles and responsibilities.
Pre-work site checks were done after the area and overhead clearing, and not limited to;
- Security and site safety
- Training and education
- Access and Egress
- Personal Protection Clothing and Equipment
- Access equipment and materials (ladders, hoists, scaffoldings)
- Temporary utilities (water, electricity, sewer and communication)
- Temporary structural works
Project activities are not without hazards that were pre-assessed to safely manage work on heights, use of dangerous substances and material, work in confined spaces, use of noisy and vibrating tools, work in extreme temperatures, dusty and hot conditions, electrical works, spills and releases of chemicals and biological agents, fires, flooding and high winds.
Measures such as construction safety training and designating responsibilities to workers response in emergency eventualities and the provision of emergency equipment (fire, first-aid, transport, etc.) were then considered.
At this stage of the project, every worker on site would have an important safety function to protect themselves and others on the site, but most importantly, the role of the project coordinator, sometimes called the Construction Design Manager (CDM) (according to the size of the project), ensures that the client’s needs are delivered in a safe manner, with additional functions to include:
- Liaising with the client on measures they took personally for compliance to safety requirements
- Obtaining files from the earlier stages on information on design and materials for use on the site
- Meeting regularly with the main contractor to procure the information and needs of this phase
All other information relating to the contractor’s selection and activities will be prepared in a written file and submitted to the client for future reference should the need arise.
Contractor selection and qualification is strongly recommended as a prerequisite to realize a safe worksite. The qualification of the prospective contractor should provide, amongst other information, their experience over a five year period, an acceptable compensation and insurance portfolio, accident/incident records and loss time, and safety practices and procedures (methods statement). A written statement on their qualifications and skills, binding the contractor, their employees and sub-contractor to compliance laws, company rules and procedures to ensure enforcement must be acquired, and a documented and copied file showing the contractor will execute the work safely and within an agreed time frame.
The general contractor, who will be in control of the site, must ensure compliance with the safety legislations and other regulations that influence safe performance. Their control should address the existing and predictable hazards on the worksite by:
- Developing a comprehensive construction/operation safe performance plan and the level of its implementation
- Ensuring that all workers on the site are competent and will follow the plan
- Coordinate the work activities in a sequential manner that is logical and safe
- Ensure that all workers cooperate with stakeholders and the safety supervisor on safety issues and comply with safety requirements on the worksite
- Plan, develop and implement safe systems of work, with monitoring and review opportunities
- Plan, develop and implement a hygiene program
Falls from heights of six feet and above are most prevalent from worksite roofs, ladders, scaffolding, lifts and hoists and temporary structures, catwalks, stairways, platforms, openings and over edges to include:
- Slips and trips – obstacles left carelessly about the site
- Stump and fall – an unexpected elevation in the worker’s pathway
- Slip and fall – thrown off balance by stepping on a surface with oil or other substances
- Struck by – flying and falling objects, moving equipment or machinery
- Burns and shock – coming into contact with a form of energy (extreme heat, sun burns and radiation, electricity, etc,)
- Struck against – any form of projectile
- Entangled by – rotating parts of machinery or equipment
- Caught in between (buried) – trapped between a collapsed structure, soil/trench erosion
- Cuts and abrasions – from sharp/rough edges
- Step and fall – an unexpected step down (hole, trenches, excavations, missing step)
- Trip and fall – foot striking an unseen object in its path
These hazards are created mainly when there are multi-employers on the worksite. To avoid these unnecessary mishaps, a fall prevention/protection program with an effective and efficient communication and information sharing system must be in place to train and inform workers of the hazards they may encounter on the worksite by other activities. Undesirable attitudes and behaviors such as horseplay, short-cuts and absent mindedness also contribute to disasters and should be addressed before entering the worksite. The induction and training of workers is an important consideration at this point, where the workers must become familiar with site rules, safe systems, traffic routes, security, hearing protection zones, use and care of personal protection clothing and equipment, housekeeping and storage, welfare arrangements, emergency procedures, fire precautions, escape routes, assembly points, first-aid arrangements, reporting procedures, planned training, key personnel on the project, individual responsibilities, and identifying safety, union representatives and safety committees.
The observation of unsafe practices and unsafe conditions below should receive priority attention since they can create the hazards mentioned earlier:
- Overhead dangers
- Slippery conditions
- High winds, environmental conditions and bad weather conditions
- Respiratory threats from dust, gases and other releases
- Confined spaces and open trenches
- Faulty equipment, defective tools and machinery
- Poor housekeeping and obstructions
- Metal and welding work hazards
- Discarded flammable material
- Bad lifting techniques and carrying operation
- Health problems caused by noise, vibration and hazardous substances
- Unstable structure and premature removal of structures
To conclude, most accidents occur on the worksite (mainly residential) because the environment is lax and encourages complacency, since the need for fall prevention/protection is often overlooked. Fall prevention/protection and arrest systems such as guardrails, harnesses, nets, good housekeeping, clearing pathways, slip resistant solutions, warning signs, and proper lifting, are measures that save lives, time, and money, and motivate and increase the worker’s confidence in the contractor. The construction Design Manager (CDM) must be mindful that although significant construction hazards were designed out earlier, unforeseen problems can arise in the construction process which will require late design/modification and changes, however these new arrangements must not create further risk on the site but instead tailor the existing conditions. Traffic should be monitored when vehicles reverse or move too near to structures and trenches, and if possible people and vehicles should be separated by demarcations. Therefore a safe and successful worksite process starts with construction safety training which helps to remove the negative contributors, adopt the right attitude, and adapt to training.