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Construction industry in UK can be called as one of the biggest industries, as it consists of over 300,000 firms employing approximately 2.1 million people (Construction, 2010). Report published by Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), and contribution of UK construction sector towards nation's GVA (Gross Value Added) was 8.3% in total GVA of 2008. As Sir John Egan written in his report, Rethinking Construction (1998) stated that "the health and safety record of construction is the second worst of any industry". And the report future suggested that "accidents can amount for 4 to 6 per cent of the of the total project cost" (Howarth and Watson, 2009). In 2008/09 53 construction workers lost their lives, 4,000 reported major injuries and 2.2 million working days were lost through work related ill health in the construction industry (HSE, 2010). On an average it can be say someone is dies every week on a British construction site.
Management must encourage and support safety by setting a good safety for example; effectively managing health and safety programmes, attending health and safety meetings, performing inspections, investigating near-miss accidents and reviewing safety performance at all levels says (Wentz, 1998). Due to construction accidents many human tragedies, de-motivate workers, disrupt site activities, delay project progress and adversely affect the overall cost, productivity and reputation of the construction industry and also project safety management is very much a traditional concern for the construction industry, the industry seems to suffer from a general inability to manage workplace health and safety to a level where a pro-active zero-accident culture prevails (Mohamed, 1999). Evidence is clear that zero- accident culture cannot be guaranteed be legislation alone (Mohamed, 1999). (Stranks 2000) assumes planning, organising, controlling, objective setting, establishing accountability, policy setting and measuring health and safety performance of every individual as main responsibilities of management.
THE COMPANY: - Millennium Contractors Ltd
Our company, Millennium Contractors Ltd. is a Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) and also very well-known name in the construction sector of UK for last 25 years. The workers working in the company comes from different ethnicity and cultural background as well as different age group. Diversity in construction is strength but also a weakness Diversity in construction in terms of culture, ethnicity, age, education or gender brings numerous benefits to the business but as the same time unfolds many challenges. Like any other organization or individual, it has also gone through some good and bad phases in 25 years. Currently it is facing some tough moments in terms of safety issues. Below is the list of issues being faced on site and there are legal consequences.
Manual Handling: Few workers have sustained minor physical injuries which forced them to stay away from work for more than three days at a stretch.
Injuries due to falling objects: Five workers as sustained serious head injury and few bruises on their bodies, as he was hit by a falling object on site.
Accident due to moving vehicle: An accident has occurred on construction site when a worker got hit by a vehicle which was coming to site for unloading the construction material.
Collapse of temporary structure: A temporary structure in one part of the site has collapsed resulting in one fatal and minor injuries to the workers working on that particular structure.
Due to above result the company has received four enforcement notices for all accidents and also a prohibition notice for last incident has resulted in stoppage of work in that particular section of construction site.
ROOT CAUSES OF INCIDENTS
3.1 Manual Handling
Few workers have sustained minor physical injuries which forced them to stay away from work for more than three days at a stretch. According to the Dublin Institute of Technology, manual handling can be define as "any transporting or supporting a load by one or more employees, and it includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which by reasons of its characteristics or of unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to workers (HSA)"
More than 70,000 workers goes off work every year for variable periods of time because of injuries sustained due to manual handling, which amounts to more than one third of all industrial injuries (Stranks, 2000). As published by Health and Safety Executives (HSE, 2006) attributes 38% of all accidents to manual handling, which caused over three days injury in 2001/02.
Hence it can be said that, manual handling is one of the most dangerous issues which is needed to be overcome in order to have better safety environment. The Council of European Communities directive 90/269/EEC (1990) characteristics injuries sustained due to manual handling to following factors.
Characteristics of the Loads: It may present a risk particularly of back injury if; Too heavy or too large, unwieldy or difficult to grasp, unstable or has contents likely to shift and badly positioned at the time of lifting.
Physical Efforts Required: It may present a risk particularly of back injury if; Too strenuous, achieved only by a twisting movement of trunk, sudden movement of load and unstable posture of body at the time when effort is being made.
Characteristics of working environment: It may increase a risk particularly of back injury if; not sufficient room in vertically to carry out the activity, uneven or slippery floor relation to the worker's footwear, unstable floor and unsuitable temperature, humidity or ventilation.
Requirements of the activity: It may present a risk particularly of back injury if; over-frequent or over-prolonged physical effort involving particular spine, insufficient bodily rest or recovery period, excessive lifting, lowering or carrying distances and a rate of work imposed by a process which cannot be altered by the worker.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992, which came into force on 1st January 1993, in its section 4(1)(a), has requested employers to: avoid role of workers if not necessary, make sufficient duties of all operations, take appropriate action to reduce risk of injury and review all the mentioned steps again if they are no longer valid. In section 5 of MHOR 1992, Duties of employees, each employee has been asked to make full and proper use of any system of work provided for his use by employer in compliance with regulation 4(1) (b) (ii) of these regulations. "Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and regulations 10 and 13 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to provide their employees with health and safety information and training. This should be supplemented as necessary with more specific information and training on manual handling injury risks and prevention, as part of the steps to reduce risk required by regulation 4(1) (b) (ii) of the Regulations.
3.2 Falling objects
The Company has other issue of falling object from height due to which five workers were seriously head injury and few bruises on their bodies. According to HSE's report in 2008/09 over 4000 major injuries were caused be falling from height while at work. According to (Stranks 2000) small objects such as hammers, nail, roof tiles, bricks, etc. as the main source for such kind of injuries. The main causes of such dangerous occurrence is poor housekeeping by people working above, toe board and age barrier not being provided, incorrect or failure to install catchment platform or 'fans' which are designed the falling objects which may fall during construction. Insufficient storage leads to bad housekeeping. Hence it is necessary for the project planners to provide adequate storage on site.
The Work at Height Regulations (WHR) 2005, relates to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. They place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person who controls the work of others (eg facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height) to the extent they control the work.
3.3 Moving Vehicles
An accident has occurred on construction site and two workers got hit by a vehicle which was coming to site for unloading the construction material. HSE, in its report on Workplace Transport Safety (2006), has defined workplace transport as "any vehicle that is used in a work setting such as forklift trucks, compact dumpers, tractors and mobile cranes". According to the report published by IOSH the heart of health and safety, 45 Workers were killed and over 5,000 injured in workplace transport accidents in 2008/09 and being struck by a moving vehicle was the third highest cause of accidental death in the workplace (2008/09), after falls from a height and being struck by a moving or falling object.
The workplace (Health, safety and welfare) Regulation 1992, Regulation 17 advise that there should be efficient segregation of pedestrian from vehicular traffic of incoming and outgoing. In addition road marking and sign should comply Regulation Act 1984.
3.4 Temporary Structures and scaffoldings
A temporary structure in one part of the site has collapsed resulting in one fatal and minor injury to the workers working on that particular structure. Few days ago there was a collapsed of scaffolding on other part but there was not a fatal injuries, only one workers was injury that also with minor injuries. According to HSE in their report 'Safe erection, use and dismantling of falsework' (2003), poor planning, erecting loading or dismantling of falsework and scaffolds as main reasons for collapse. It's a result of lack of co-ordination between various trades and suppliers of falsework.
Following causes have been highlighted in the same report with reference to such kind of collapses.
Improper designing of formwork, falsework, scaffolding and sheet piling
Improper selection of material
Wrong methods of erecting
As per the Work at Height Regulation 2005, Regulation6(4)(b), 6(5)(a,b), 7, 8, 12 and 13, states that it is necessary for the employer to provide suitable equipment, take account of working condition and rigorous inspection by a competent person. Further section 2(2)(a) of HSWA 1974, states there should be provision and maintenance of plant and machinery at work.
CONSTRUCTION HEALTH AND SAFETY PLANNING
4.1 Safety Management System
It is necessary for every company that they have a comprehensive and systematic management of health and safety. It is vital for every company regardless the industry to run their project and activity without any set back. According to HSE HSG65 Publication, successful health and safety management system require the following:
The management should establish clear Policy for health and safety.
The Organisation of all employees for management of health and safety.
The Planning for health and safety by setting objectives and targets, identifying hazards, accessing risks and establishing standards against which the organisation can measure performance.
The Measurement of health and safety performance.
The Audit and Reviewing of safety performance and practice to order to inform improvement.
4.2 Management Practices and Documentation
The term management means "the effective use of resources in the pursuit of organisational goals" (Stranks 2000). The management resources include:
Land and buildings
Management skills in co-ordinating the use of resources.
In order to maintain a safety culture it is necessary that there is proper level of communication, co-ordination and co-operation between the principle contractor and the subcontractor. There should be pre start meeting between the former and the later, so that the principle contractor pass on the requisite information of the site to the subcontractor along with the safety information. These pre commencement information helps the subcontractor to analyze risk on the site and do the assessment of the risk and thus propose a method statement.
4.3 Site Induction
As per the nature of construction site induction is carried out. This needs to occur before commencement of work by any employer. The site induction will include:
Why health and safety is important.
Outline of the nature of site.
Brief on site Hazards.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
Procedures to attain 'permit to work'.
Mechanism for communicating safety information.
Brief of welfare facilities.
Brief on how to report onsite injury or an accident.
4.4 Toolbox Talks
Weekly site meeting will always help people on site to ensure effective co-ordination, communication and co-operation amongst the workers. Issues on safety can be addressed during such meetings. These talks will ensure that the workers are competent and safe in their work activity.
4.5 Accident Record Book
All accidents occurs at site are to be entered to a book which is on the site office. Though the subcontractor has his own such record book must also enter in the book. Any reportable accident should be reported under RIDDOR, to the site supervisor immediately.
4.6 Safety On-Site
Site safety is essential for a company to be successful in its construction business. It is necessary that workers health and their wellbeing are considered to be a primary objective by the management while devising safety policy for the organisation. But one should remember that safety and wellbeing at workplace is not the responsibility of the management alone, employees are equally responsible for abiding to health and safety guidelines set by the company. But it is the responsibility of the management to device a system of motivation for its employees so as to create a safety culture at workplace. In order to have a safety culture the management needs to consider the behaviour, perception and attitude of its employees.
INITIATIVES FOR IMPROVEMENT OF SAFETY
Following are the initiatives for improvement of safety:
Assigning clear and realistic goals
Improving communication between employees of different levels
Delegation of authority and responsibility amongst workers
Improving participation of employees
Team bonding activities
Building positive group norms
Improving personal attitude of workers
Increased safety education and training sessions
According to Loosemore (2007) following factors as the barriers to implementing initiatives mentioned above for better safety environment.
Unsure returns: Management may feel reluctant to implement these initiatives as the investment is to be done in the beginning, while outcome of the initiatives cannot be guaranteed.
Linguistic differences: As many workers working on site are from different cultural background and ethnicity, management might find it difficult to convey all the messages efficiently, resulting in difference in understanding of instructions.
Fear of change: New ways and methods of working may create confusion and sense of uncomforting amongst workers, leading them to traditional ways of working.
Difference in education level: Different workers might have studied till different levels in education. It may affect their ability to understand instructions clearly.
Lack of time: This may lead workers to go back to traditional ways of working as they might feel more comfortable and confidant with the old style of working.
This report has identified the root causes for the incidents which occurred on the site. The connection between incidents and respective causes were established. A try is made to find out the factors which may influence the safety on site. It has come to know that these influencing factors are mainly related to the individual view of people working on site, behavioural and attitude of the people and management's commitment in the direction of improvement of safety at work. The barriers, which may affect the successful implementation of safety practices at work, are related to the enthusiasm of management to invest in future, fear of change amongst employees and linguistic and cultural differences on site.
A list of initiatives is given which are required to be taken on site. Those initiatives will help in making the trust amongst people, increase in confidence level of workers, improved communication between different levels of an organization, team bonding between employees, improved authority and responsibility amongst workers, more participation in safety exercises and change in attitude of workers.