In the 20th Century, the construction industry is in a booming phase and day by day the world is experiencing Larger, Taller, Longer, and Deeper construction projects. Due to rapid urbanization, these projects are becoming more complex and challenging and so the various risks associated with it are also increasing. When it comes to safety in Construction projects, we often visualize the three PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) which are safety helmets, aprons, and safety shoes. No doubt that PPE is an integral part of safety, but today we will try to understand and have an overview of few more aspects of Safety in Construction Projects.
In the construction world, civil engineers are constantly fulfilling the demands of society by performing a wide range of activities such as the construction of bridges, buildings, railway lines, highways, power plants, energy parks, airports, and many more. Civil engineers are expected to construct these structures in such a way that these structures serve their purpose safely. Here the term “SAFELY” means that when these structures are ready t serve to the people they should stand firm.
Construction is a industry where there are lot of uncertainties and risks encountered in every project. As seen in the photo above, a slight margin of error during the construction can cause a catastrophic failure resulting in loss of tax holders money, company’s reputation, and most importantly causing injuries and death of thousands of innocent humans. Thus, it becomes important to conduct a thorough risk assessment and implement mitigation measures during construction. The goal of a successful project is not only to complete the project but rather to complete it by adopting the highest safety standards. Every project can be successful if the construction works are executed as per numerous guidelines, standards, and norms at respective levels.
The Football Analogy
Let’s try to understand the operating mechanism of the construction industry and its safety aspects of it by considering the analogy of the football game. Below mentioned are the following attributes of the game to be considered:
- Match- Construction project
- Audience – Taxpayers
- Duration of Match – Project timeline
- Goal- People Safety
- Team A – Off-Ground team
- Team B- On-Ground team
- Referee 1- Safety Officer
- Referee 2 – Environmental Officer
- Line Referee- Sanctioning Authorities
- Cameraman – Maintenance team
Team A (Off-Ground Team)
Team A- Off-Ground team consists of the players who are responsible for developing the various strategies for scoring goals in the game. Some key players of Team A are as follows:
a) Stakeholders- The amount of budget the stakeholder is willing to spend on the project and its spending plans play an important role in the finalization of the project timeline.
b) PMC (Project Management Consultant) – Since multiple activities are involved in a construction project, project management consultants need to incorporate essential safety compliances and specifications in tender documents and should give proper recommendations to the stakeholders.
c) Designers – These people have a major role in ensuring the safety of the structures. The entire design of the structures is done based on their judgment and experience. The stability of the structures and the life of the humans ultimately depend on their design.
d) EC (Environmental Consultant) – Construction projects often encounters various natural obstructions like forests, mountains, water bodies, etc. The decision to construct by demolishing/diverting this obstruction needs to be taken in such a way that ecological balance is maintained. Another major issue is that construction work is that it causes various pollution like air, water, noise pollution, etc. The EC should ensure the authentic and reliable EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) reports. The entire environmental safety and concern lies with the EC team.
Team B (On-Ground Team)
Team B- On-Ground team– The On-Ground team consists of players who is responsible for the execution of the project. Some key players of Team B are as follows:
a) Site Engineers – These people are the ones who are responsible for implementing the drawings on the ground. These people have to interpret these drawings properly and pass the information to the lower workforce.
b) Plant & Machinery Engineers- Construction works are almost impossible without the involvement of equipment and machines. This group of people must ensure the proper working of equipment and machines.
c) Quality engineers- There are numerous materials required in a particular construction project. This group of people must ensure that all the materials which are being utilized are as per the required grade and specifications.
d) Foreman – There is a huge amount of labor task force involved in a particular construction project and these people perform the maximum work. During the work, they are directly exposed to various hazards and risks which can cause injuries and even death. These people do not possess adequate knowledge about safety measures against these hazards and risks. The engineers or safety personnel cannot be present everywhere to supervise them but the foreman can. Therefore, the foreman should be highly competitive to supervise the good quality of workmanship and should also ensure that the labor workforce is following safety practices.
To prevent any foul play and to ensure that the game is played as per the required standards, a total of three official referees appointed in the game.
Safety officer- These are the people responsible for monitoring the entire onsite construction work. Their job is to ensure that each activity happening on site is in a proper safe environment. The main task of these people is to educate all the personnel involved in a particular project about the potential risks and hazards along with its safety measures.
Environmental officer- These are the people responsible for the Conservation of flora, fauna, forests, and wildlife, prevention, and control of pollution, afforestation, and regeneration of degraded areas. Basically, their task is to protect the environment.
Sanctioning authorities – These are the people responsible for the various approval of the project. These people ensure that the work is carried out by following all the required compliances.
Below mentioned is more referee which can be considered as unofficial referee
Cameraman- These are the people responsible for conducting periodic audits and inspections. They can identify the defects and causes of it. These people give the fitness certificate for the structures and if the structures are unfit then they suggest necessary rehabilitation measures.
In a real football game, both teams defend each other from scoring goals. When the match begins both teams defend each other from scoring the goal. During the duration of the match both the teams defend each other and below mentioned is a few highlights from the game:
Team A has not considered the temporary load during its design phase – This mistake can result in the collapse of structures or formations during the game.
Team A has not properly drafted the contractor qualifying criteria – This mistake enables the selection of a contractor who has less work experience in this work.
Team A has specified less capable types of equipment for cost savings – This mistake results in less productivity of the work during the game.
Team A has not performed proper due diligence at the pre-tendering stage – This mistake results in results in encountering various uncertainties during the game.
Team A has missed certain unforeseen approvals – This mistake can lead to the stoppage of work resulting in loss of time.
Team B is not properly following the construction methodology during the game – This puts the structure in a danger zone which can lead to loss of public life and money.
Team B is not using the materials as per specifications- This indirectly changes the various parameters considered during the design.
Team B encounters unforeseen conditions during the game and take decisions without informing the design team – This can lead to unfavorable consequences in the future.
Team B gets in a dispute with the authorities – This can lead to the project being on hold thereby resulting in loss of time and stakeholders’ money.
Team B is not maintaining proper documentation of works- This leads to problems during the reconciliation of the materials.
If both teams are playing without following the rules, then the penalty is given by all three referees. But what if after the game it is found out that some rules were not followed by the teams which were missed by all three referees? This foul play can be spotted by the cameraman after the match and a penalty can be imposed after the match.
Both teams are declared winners if the structures which are serving their purpose are ensuring people’s safety to date. Ultimately, the project is successful if it has “SAFEGUARDED THE SURVIVAL” of the people.
In the entire construction project there are multiple activities which governs the safety aspects of the project. Each and every personnel involved in a particular project needs to adopt and implement the appropriate safety measures at their own levels. There are various guidelines, framework, norms and standards applicable for each and every activity.