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Construction sector is considered as one of the hazardous place for workers. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), it estimates that there are 60 000 fatal accidents per year around the world and 100 fatal accidents in UK itself. The possibility of accidents at the construction site is high that a grave mistake can cause them death or serious injury. Some of the hazards that workers faced such as falling from high places, falling of foreign objects and excavation accidents. Not only that, the workers can also face being exposed to dangerous substances such as asbestos. We should not just take into consideration the safety of workers but also the safety of the public as they may be affected as well. It is one of the responsibilities of the designers to protect the workers as well as members of public from any harm at the construction site as there are many cases where members of public got killed. Proper guidelines and information should be given to the public and construction workers, so that they will know the risks that are associated with construction works. The health and safety can be improved when the employers and employees work together. Therefore, as designers they have responsibilities to take into account the health, safety and welfare especially during the construction, maintenance, operation and removal of works.
Health and safety plays a major role in construction site and is considered really important that there are even legislations for the construction sites to adhere to the regulations that were made. Example of legislation that the construction sites have to comply is the Construction Design and Management (CDM). This rules and regulations are vital as it requires the employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the employees. The regulations help the people to become extra careful so that they will take more precautions when performing their jobs. According to the CDM it is designersâ€™ duty to protect and eliminate any hazards that may cause risks at the workplace. Designers are those that are responsible with the design and the operation during construction. It may include engineers such as structural engineers, architects and project managers. It is one of their duties to comply with the regulations that were made by the government organisation such as the Construction Design and Management (CDM). They need to come up with solutions on how to improve the health and safety at works so that it will benefit the clients and the workers.
It gives many benefits by ensuring that the designers as well as the workers follow the health and safety regulations. Firstly, the number of accidents at the site will decrease by making sure that the workplace is safe from any hazards. Moreover, the projects will be completed on time as there are no delays, helps to boost the company reputations and the employees can work in a great environment as proper care and safety are given to them, thus the employees will produce best end products. Besides, the employers can also avoid the risk of litigation by complying with the health and safety.
Proper practical measures needed to be taken by the designers to ensure the health and safety of the workers. Therefore, suitable procedures should be taken starting from the design stage, followed by construction, maintenance, operation and lastly the removal of works stage. Before starting any construction works, it is important for the designers to review ways to ensure the health and safety during the design stage. Reviewing the safety during design is important as according to the (ILO) construction accidents can be reduced or prevented if correct methods have been taken at an early stage. The designers should also ensure that the employers and employees comply with the regulations that have been set up.
During the design stage, designers should design out any hazard that may cause risks during the construction process. If it is not possible, the designers have to reduce the risk of the hazard. They also have to identify works that may cause risks to the workers and come up with solutions to avoid it. Moreover, the designers have to inform and brief the contractors and workers about the hazards that may have to face during construction stage, so that any mishaps can be avoided. Then, the designers can make a list of hazards and give it to every worker before the start of construction process. During this stage, it is advisable for the designers to gather more information of the site and the projects in order for them to familiarize themselves with the workplace. Hiring safety officers that are well-versed with the health and safety regulations at the site will also help in reducing risks and improving the safety level. Furthermore, the assessment that has been made by designers when choosing the effective methods of construction proves to be crucial to the health and safety. They need to work together with the contractors so that they can exchange ideas to come up with best innovative solutions. Moreover when designing, the designers should not just take into considerations about the cost and time but also the workers health and safety. As designers, they need to develop and increase their awareness of the hazard in order for them to comply with the regulations. This can be done by always referring to the safety policy that are already provided by the government and the company.
Construction stage is the most critical part in the project. This is because accidents are prone to occur during this stage thus, additional safety measures are needed. For this stage, we can divide it into pre-construction and during construction, so that it will be easier for us to manage the health and safety of the workers. During pre-construction, the first thing that the designers have to do is managing the work of the workers at the site and co-ordinate the flow of traffic at the site. A lot of accidents occur due to moving vehicle as the visibility of the drivers is poor as well as carelessness of the workers to stay alert to their surroundings. Moreover, as civil engineering works usually involve a lot of people, it is better that the designers set an allocated time for each works that need to be done so that it will be easier for the designers to administer the works and the workers. By doing this, the designers can also check on the quality of the work done. Through managing the work and co-ordinating the traffic flow, accidents can be avoided and systematic works can be carried out. In addition, the designers need to work together with the contractors and the client at this stage so that any problems that arise can be solved before the construction phase is carried out. This can be done by regular meetings and site visits by the team. By frequently making the site visits, the designers can gain insight on how the health and safety can be further improved for future works. Additionally, at the construction site we have to put security guards to prevent any unauthorized person from accessing the site. Pedestrian route at the site also need to be design away from any moving vehicles so that the workers need not worry of their safety if they have to go from one to place to another. Furthermore, safety signs should be put around the site to remind the workers of the hazards and so that they can remain vigilant at all time.
For the construction phase, the designers should put extra effort in improving the health and safety. Falls and trips are the most common accidents that are usually reported at site. Working in a major construction particularly increases the risks of hazards. Health and safety can be improved by giving extra precautions particularly at scaffolding, stairs and mobile lifting platforms to prevent accidents by falling from these high places. Designers need to ensure that workers that work at high places are supervised by professional and proper training are given to make sure that they are competent in handling the jobs given. Safety equipments need to be installed such as handrails and safety barriers so that it will aid the workers in doing their tasks. Moreover, the designers have to inform the workers to keep their materials tidy after usage so that any objects will not fall down and cause people to trip. By ensuring these steps are taken, we can make the site a safer place to work at. As the sites are filled with heavy machinery, the designers need to make certain that the contractors that are hired are capable with their skills in handling this machinery. This machinery also has to be maintained at all time to prevent any breakdown. In addition, flammable materials such as timber, paints and adhesive must be kept away at store after usage to prevent fire at the site. The storage areas need to be kept dry all the times and the materials need to be labelled and stored correctly. Smoking must not be allowed anywhere at the site as the place is full with electrical equipments and flammable materials. This rule must be implemented by the designers to make the site a safer working place. Moreover, adequate lighting must be installed at the site so that the area is well lit for the workers to work. More importantly, the ingress and egress at the site must not be blocked with any materials or equipments so that in case of emergency it will not disrupt the path.
After a certain period of time, some buildings need to be repair to maintain its condition from any damage that may arise. Maintenance may include repairing, cleaning, refurbishment and installation of parts. Throughout maintenance process, the designers should ask the contractors to install signs saying â€œWork is in progressâ€ near their workplace, to give early warning to the others of the hazard ahead. If for example the maintenance process is done at place where there are many publics, it is advisable for designers to close the area and divert the route to somewhere else until the work is done. The site also needs to be protected with netting or boarding. If the workers need to do work that deals with height such as cleaning windows or installing lights, it is designersâ€™ duty to ensure that proper protective measures have been taken workers before starting their jobs. The workers need to wear protective gears all the time like helmets and glasses plus the works need to be supervised by highly skilled person so that any accidents can be avoided. When working with heights, the designers can make it a routine for the workers to inspect their equipments before starting their works to ensure that there are no faults with it. It is better that all the equipments and machinery are listed accurately so that it can be checked and repair for maintenance. Moreover, when using equipments such as ladder, it need to be properly secure and cannot move before usage. In order for designers to keep track with the works that are done by contractor, they can issue Permit to Work (PTW) before the starting of jobs given. By doing this, the designers can monitor the working progress of the contractors and it is easier for them to detect any mistakes so that it can be corrected at an early stage. The most important thing is that, the works need to be accurately plan by designers not only during design stage but this stage as well so that the health and safety can be greatly improved.
During operation stage, there are many steps that can be taken by the designers to improve the health and safety of the employees. Firstly, risk assessment need to be done by the supervisors that have been hired to check on the health and safety at site. The designers have to make sure that the site do at least monthly risk assessment. During risk assessment, the safety officers need to list qualified first aiders that are at site in case of emergency, and the first aid boxes need to be put at places where it is easily available for people to get it. Moreover, fire training for the employees can be held every week to make it familiar for the employees about the escape routes that they can take if there are fire breakouts. To ensure that all the duty have been done by designers, they should review the safety policy statement that are provided and comply with all the regulations. Basic safety requirements should not be forgotten such as wearing headgear, proper footwear, and materials are pile in stable manner to prevent it from falling. Before any operations take place, all the equipments that will be use should be thoroughly examine and the electrical and mechanical equipments need to be maintained to ensure its efficiency throughout work. During operation process, it is advisable that the observer that monitoring the works to regularly communicate with others.
Removal of work is the last stage in project and it is particularly important that health and safety is given a priority. After completion of project, it is significant that the end product is presentable to be hand in to the owner. During this last stage, the designers need to ensure that the construction site is cleaned up by the contractors from any harmful materials. This can be done by cleaning any excess oil, paints and grease from the floor to prevent any slip. Moreover, any nails or bolts that are found lying around the site need to be cleared off, so that it will not injured anyone who accidently stepped on it. Any temporary works that need to be removed at this stage such as scaffolding must be done by competent workers. Designers must be sure that the workers that are hired are capable of doing it. When dismantling any equipment make sure that it is done the correct way like what in the procedure without risking the safety of workers.
Providing welfare facilities to the workers are required under the legislation. Welfare is one of the vital components in construction other than health and safety. To give comforts to the workers, welfare facilities such as toilets, shelters, washing area and facility for meal times need to be provided. By providing these facilities we can improve the efficiency of the workers and their health. A sufficient number of toilets need to be constructed at site for the workers use. This toilets need to be constructed so that it is easily maintain and can be remove after the completion of projects. Moreover, these toilets need to be properly cleaned and must be kept dry at all time to ensure the health and safety of the workers. Shelters are constructed to shield workers from weathers such as rain and snow. Other than that, this shelter can be used for the workers to rest during breaks so that they can rest and recover from exhaustion. More importantly, this shelter needs to be covered at all time and are well lit and ventilated as well. Washing areas are required so that the workers can wash their bodies from dirt or dangerous chemicals as it can cause harm to them. The designers should designed where the washing area have facilities such as drying facilities like dryers, as well as wash basins where they can wash their hands after handling dangerous substances. Adequate water supply plus clean water is essential for these washing areas. Changing rooms can also be built at the washing area so that the workers can change into their protective gears. Changing rooms for men and women need to be separated and must be provided with lockers. In addition, a facility for meal time is necessary for the workers to have places for them to eat their food. It has to be designed to be away from the place them works to avoid any contact from the dust and dangerous substances. This facility need to be equipped with tables and chairs, also it has to well cover from weathers. Moreover, this place must be regularly clean so that it is hygienic.
In general, by implementing the regulations on health and safety we can achieve effective protection for the employees against any harms or risks associated when working at construction site and it also work as guidance for them that need to be follow. Mostly people tend to think of health and safety on a lighter note as they deem it is not that important. So as designers, they need to increase people awareness regarding this issue by giving induction to the employers and employees. To prevent any accidents from happening, effective management and co-operation are needed from everyone that is involved with the construction works. By making good implementation on planning we can develop better performance for the workers thus increasing the quality of works done. Moreover, the designers and the employees should communicate with each other in order to achieve our objectives of making the site a safer place. Furthermore, as designers their designs should take into considerations of the health and safety of the workers that are going to be involved with the projects. They also need to consider whether their designs are buildable for the contractors. In ensuring that all duty is done by designers, we can reduce the rate of accidents at site thus improving the condition of working at the site.