What Is Construction Safety?July 30, 2018
“Construction safety is the process of maintaining a safe work environment while on a worksite. It involves the implementation of administrative strategies, engineering designs and personal protection awareness by all throughout the life of the project.”
A construction site as compared with other workplaces in other industries has an alarmingly high accident/injury figure ratio despite legislation, regulations, standards, best practices, recommendations and guides to make the industry safe. There is still an unacceptable slow decline rate, since the responsibility of safety is not shared by all involved (client to laborer) on any given construction project.
Sharing the responsibility;
“Everyone has a shared responsibility taking account the general principles of prevention.”
[A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)
The client’s role has great influence on the project and must be held accountable for the decisions they make, since they are to ensure that health and safety is integrated in all the phases of the construction by selecting suitable management and other competencies, providing adequate welfare and resources in a timely manner, and ensuring all information relating to health and safety is acquired.
The manager, while advising and assisting the client, must coordinated health and safety with all involved, and share pre-construction information, and plan and prepare updates for health and safety files.
Amongst the designer’s responsibility is to eliminate or reduce the risk in the design process and provide information on the residual risk.
The contractor has the responsibility to enforce safety and health on the worksite at all times, by consulting with and informing the workers, liaising with the project manager, securing the site, ensuring that all workers are sufficiently trained in their respective occupation, ensure welfare arrangements remain adequate throughout all phases of the project, and to prepare, develop and implement site rules, among other tasks.
The worker must cooperate with all involved in the project and examine their competency by applying prevention principles so as not to negatively affect others and themselves by their activity, to report unsafe practices and unsafe conditions, and comply with health and safety requirements.
A construction project is not as simple as what meets the eyes of the layperson who sees the clearing of an area today, work in progress tomorrow, and persons occupying the building the next day.
What is not seen by the layperson about a construction project is the safety input in each of the phases to make it a successful outcome.
A successful project will have in its portfolio three (3) main phases:
- The planning (pre-construction) – Concept, design and management
- The process (building) – Construction and operations
- The completion (post construction) – Commissioning
The pre-construction phase… about clients and management.
The characteristics in this phase are identified as conception, design and management that involves getting all the information required to start the structure, and initiate the planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling the resources necessary to achieve a successful outcome (structure) that would meet the client’s requirements, whose approach can have certain impacts on the project.
The building phase… about management and manpower collaboration.
The characteristics of this phase are the building operations and services that involve executing all the planned activities for the undertaking of the project, such as:
- Evaluation and assessment
- Scheduling the workforce
- Site preparation and layout
- Construction activities
- Problem solving
- Reporting systems, etc…
The post-construction phase… about commissioning, hand over and occupation.
The main focuses of this phase are the inspections and testing of all systems to include:
- Site visit
- Indoctrination of the users
- Maintenance (scheduled and preventative)
- Training and empowerment
The first installment of this article in construction safety will take a brief look at the conception, design and management phase of the project’s life, leaving the other phases to be discussed in later chapters.
The aim of Construction Safety according to Regulations 2007, Concept, Design and Management (CDM2007), is to:
“Integrate health and safety into the management of the project and to encourage everyone involved to work together” to:
- Improve the planning and management of the project from the start
- Identify hazards early on, so that they can be eliminated or reduced at the design or planning stage and the remaining risks can be properly managed
- Target the effort where it can do most good in terms of health and safety: and
- Discourage unnecessary bureaucracy
Concept, Design and Management of a project is the most important phase because its success can only be realized when safety starts at the project’s inception.
The concept of the project will provide an insight into:
- Client perceptions and needs
- The environmental impacts on the life of the project
- Information and communication
- Legal considerations
The design of the project will consider its purpose that looks at the:
- Type and purpose of structure
- The soil type for the super structure
- The occupants after the structure is completed
- The community in which the project will be “fitted”
- Safe systems
- The environmental impacts on the structure …………
The main efforts – the management of the project – will concentrate on assisting and advising the client and coordinating all stakeholders. This role will come with many responsibilities, such as:
- Timely start and finish
- The implementing controls
- Written updates
- Pre-site preparations
- Security and safety supervision arrangement on the worksite
- Reporting procedures
- Cost and Loss control
- Emergency arrangements
- Public service acquisitions
- Contractor selection
- Integrating the construction process
- Addressing environmental concerns
- Risk management
- Technology and best practice implementation
- Time management
- Health, welfare and hygiene arrangements
In conclusion, to restate that safety and health is the most important element in all phases of a construction project is obvious from the observed statistics on workplace accidents and the roles and absent responsibilities of some team members.
It must not be forgotten that the principles of prevention must be introduced at this stage of the project to realize a safe and successful end product (the structure).
Naively thinking that no risk will exist once management systems are introduced will end in disappointment, but rest assured that it can effectively reduce and control any negative outcome on the worksite.