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Compliance To Legislation Of Road Surfacing Projects

This chapter provides a review of the literature on the level of compliance to legislation of road surfacing projects. Journals and paper that specifically deal with road surfacing works will be looked at first and if not available, construction sites in general based on the Irish construction sector. If this information is not available then international studies will be sought.

The first section looks at auditing of construction sites particularly with regard to road surfacing sites on all types of roadways including national and non national roadways. It evaluates the contributions of some major studies as well as discussing the major factors that impinge on a well balanced safety audit in the construction sector.

The second section reviews behavioural aspects of compliance to legislation. It discusses the reasons for compliance or non compliance. International assessment practices are reviewed leading to an examination of why there is a shortfall in the level of adherence to Codes of Practice or legislation in the construction industry.

2.2 Auditing.

Safety auditing is a structured and detailed approach to reducing and controlling the seriousness of accidents before it’s occur. The main purposes of safety audit includes steps to evaluate management, the workforce and the physical plant itself for the novel purpose of accident prevention and containment efforts.(1)

Auditing according to the HSE (1997) (2) can be viewed as describes the key elements of successful health and safety management systems (HSMS), namely: policy, organizing, planning and implementing, measuring, auditing and reviewing performance, (POPMAR) and the relationship between them.

There is no single accepted definition of the term 'audit' and in practice 'auditing' is used by organizations to describe a range of measuring activities including physical conditions checks as well as management systems. In fact some auditing systems are also used by line managers as internal monitoring systems.

Road Safety Audit (RSA) is a formal, independent, and comprehensive road safety performance review conducted by an experienced team of safety specialists to maximize safety of the roadway environment for all highway users. It has been adopted by many agencies in the United States and abroad in the last several decades (3, 4, 5). FHWA released the Road Safety Audit Guidelines in 2006 to further promote the use of road safety audits at various stages of a project.

An RSA is defined as "the formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an independent, multidisciplinary team. It qualitatively estimates and reports on potential road safety issues and identifies opportunities for improvements in safety for all road users."(6)

A key feature of a road safety audit is the use of a team of professionals with varied expertise. The team should include highway safety engineers, highway design engineers, maintenance personnel, and law enforcement. Additional specialties should be added to the team as needed. The team members must not be involved in the design or maintenance of the facility being examined, so that they can have an objective point of view.

The road safety audit may investigate general safety conditions, or it may focus on specific concerns or users e.g. pedestrian safety (7). The New York State Department of Transportation's (DoT) Safety Appurtenance Program (SAFETAP) uses audit techniques to make simple but effective safety improvements in conjunction with road resurfacing projects. (8). This helps prevent increases in crashes that sometimes occur due to increased driving speeds after road resurfacing.

According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in Ireland in its annual report for 2008-2009 (9) a total of 43 reportable fatalities were recorded by the Authority in 2009, a 25% reduction in the number recorded in 2008. The worker fatality rate mirrored this downward trend at 2 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Both the number of fatalities and the worker fatality rate are the lowest recorded since the Authority began its work in 1989.

In Ireland the construction and agriculture sectors continue to have the highest numbers and rates of fatalities. However, both the rate and the number of fatalities in the Agriculture sector have declined, the latter by almost 50% (11) since 2008. Construction fatalities fell by a third from 15 in 2008 to 10 in 2009, although an increase in the fatality rate is evident.

In safety audits "The main objective is to ensure that all new highway schemes operate as safely as is practicable. This means that safety should be considered throughout the whole preparation and construction of any project" (10).

More specific aims are:

to minimise the number and severity of accidents that will occur on the new or modified road;

to avoid the possibility of the scheme giving rise to accidents elsewhere in the road network; and

to enable all kinds of users of the new or modified road to perceive clearly how to use it safely.

According to Robson,Bigelow (11) the auditing process involves the following; gathering evidence, documentation review and work site observation. As a result of this proceedings the information gathered must be evaluated, provide a summary of findings.

A literature review indicated that little has been developed in terms of guidelines for in-service reviews of temporary traffic control for work zones. The notable exceptions are New Zealand and Australia. In New Zealand a “Pilot Safety Audit of Traffic Control at Road Work Sites (12) has been conducted and ‘Interim Procedures for the Safety Audit of Traffic Control at Roadwork Sites” (13). Austroads (14) in the Second Edition of the Road Safety guide noted “road works sites typically involve a change of speed environment, additional conflicts, and confined road space, which can increase the potential for crashes. As traffic arrangements during road works can change several times and can bear no resemblance to permanent arrangements. Audits at the design stages can give little indication of the safety of temporary works.” The Austroads (14) Safety Audit guide contains a comprehensive checklist for the audit of roadwork traffic schemes. Other areas that are closely related to safety review procedures include a clear understanding of traffic flow in work zone (15) and incident management in work zones.

2.2.1 Safety Management

In Ireland, the HSA have provided information on safety management concepts and researchers have studied effective safety practices in the construction industry. In America during the early nineteen seventies the Occupational Safety and Health Association, OSHA was formed to establish safety guidelines and criteria for the U.S. workplace. Since construction sites contain unique safety hazards from heavy equipment, materials, and construction activities, OSHA has specific guidelines for the construction industry. These specific standards are required to be implemented by employers on all jobsites and in all work environments. OSHA continuously upgrades its standards for the construction industry to try and improve safety on-site.

2.2.2 Non-compliance versus Accidents

All interventions oriented to improve safety in the workplace have accident reduction as the ultimate objective and so the criteria against which to measure the effectiveness of such interventions. According to Duff (16), accident frequency is “the most objective measure of safety performance.” However the scientific literature has highlighted that an accident is, to some degree, a chance event requiring a combination of circumstances. Additionally, a HSE (1988) investigation has shown that accidents, especially less serious ones, are subject to gross under-reporting. Managers may also be careful in releasing information that could affect the future stability of their business or be used in any way against them.

Alternatively, better safety performance of a business, or progressive improvement of safety when a successful intervention has been carried out, brings the accident rate to a lower level than before, increasing the difficulties of identifying it accurately. This also decreases the accuracy in measuring the amount of improvement due to the intervention over time (16).

The combination of above features makes accident frequency difficult to measure in any research. Whatever the objective characteristics, it can be said that accident frequency cannot be considered to be a robust measure for research purposes. The authors validated an observational tool that turned up to objectively and reliably measure safety performance in percentages of compliance. This tool was composed by 41 items representing critical safety standards that offer data appropriate to be used in many different safety management strategies, such as performance auditing, training design, incentive system design, and goal-setting (17).

2.2.3 Safety Management Philosophy

OSHA standards can be interpreted as employers providing a safe work environment for employees (18). Contractors and state agencies use a safety management philosophy to control safety procedures, policies, and practices. Part of safety management is the prevention of accidents before their occurrence and the investigation of near-miss accidents and incidents after occurrence on construction sites. Safety management can take various forms within state agencies and by general contractors. The safety management philosophy undertaken is dependent on typical construction activities performed, previous accident history record, location of work, and individual company or agency characteristic.

Safety management may be defined as the aspect of overall management function that determines and implements the safety policy. This will involve a whole range of activities, initiatives, programs, etc., focused on technical, human and organizational aspects and referring to all the individual activities within the organization, which tend to be formalized as Safety Management Systems (SMS). A safety management philosophy is developed by companies and organizations to reflect the company’s’ commitment to the safety of their workers. A SMS should be run similar to other company functions and frequently evaluated to ensure that safety is controlled in all work environments. A safety management philosophy is developed by companies and organizations to reflect the company’s’ commitment to the safety of their workers. A SMS (Safety Management System) should be run similar to other company functions and frequently evaluated to ensure that safety is controlled in all work environments.

Wilson and Koehn (19) indicated that interest in increasing safety awareness has risen in the past 10 years. Construction companies have come to realize their livelihood is dependent on control of worker-related injuries. Many researchers and contractors believe that safety programs and safety guidelines save companies money. There is a negative impact on construction companies when insurance premiums are large. High premiums include increasing costs of medical treatment, convalescent care, and the potential for lawsuits and are the result of a construction company having a high accident rate. In the 1980s a series of large liability suits held construction companies liable for worker injury and caused a significant rise in workers compensation costs, which forced companies to realize the need for safety management. Other reasons behind having a safety program include, but are not limited to, awareness of the impact of safety performance on overall project costs, possible adverse effects on a company’s reputation with potential clients, and moral and legal obligation to provide a safe workplace to employees.

2.2.4 Summary Auditing

As part of the ongoing process of building safety into highway improvement schemes and other developments affecting the public highway, a procedure for auditing designs and newly completed works has been implemented.

A safety audit is an evaluation of highway improvement schemes during design and at the end of construction. The audits are carried out on Council and developer promoted schemes, the latter as part of the planning control process.

They ensure that adequate levels of safety are maintained, and that problems identified at similar sites are avoided in new works.

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