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On construction sites there are problems associated with health and safety. The factor that raises the most concern is the lack of enforcement of the correct safety rules and regulations by management as well as the poor commitment by workers in adhering to these rules and regulations. There is also insufficient time allocated by management to perform safety assessments and safety awareness for the workers and the general disinterest expressed by workers proves that there is a poor regard for health and safety on various levels on construction sites.
At management level, management needs to incorporate safety into their program. This should include time for regular safety workshops, medical checks, risk assessments and safe working procedures for the workers. At employee (labour) level, workers need to be constantly reminded of the risks involved in with unsafe working procedures. They need to understand that safety is in their best interest.
Records of incidents/accidents and/or near misses will be recorded; this is resulting from safety hazards or unsafe working conditions (which will be confirmed upon investigations done after the incident/accident or near miss is recorded). The safety plan that is in motion on site must be evaluated to determine if the contents suits the task or job being done. Once every worker has been educated on specific task or safety issue on site, for example a tool box talk, they should sign the document as proof that they understood what was explained as well as verify that they were present.
With most construction companies and construction sites time is of the essence and people generally tend to work under pressure and rush to get the job done at any cost. This will result in unsafe working conditions or working irresponsibly. On the other hand there is not enough emphasis placed on safety at site and workers tend to work oblivious to the fact of how important safety is and the dangers involved. Most workers are unaware and have no training on the risks involved in many tasks on site. They also can be blamed in some regard as they do not take the initiative when it comes to health and safety on site.
Safety is not only the responsibility of the company but also of the employee. Workers need to be trained and should also take the initiative and adhere to the safety rules and regulations implemented on site. Safety can be very expensive for all the parties concerned. If any incidents occur, the investigations can be a long tedious process which could hold up the progress on site. Most companies need to be properly insured as even when the correct procedures are followed and an incident takes place, there needs to be surety that workers are safe guarded against any injuries, disabilities and even death.
More stringent safety polices should be implemented on site by management. Safety awareness needs to be increased even if at the expense of the company because the company would have to fork out much more if any incidents had to occur where workers had not been safe guarded. Workers should be more aware of their surroundings especially if it is clear that the appropriate safety measures are not being implemented. Workers also need to play their part because at the end of the day they are the ones who are exposed to the hazards and risks on site while at work. They need to protect themselves by being more open minded to the safety being implemented on site.
Over the past decade the need and standards for Health and Safety on construction sites has become increasingly important. The Laws are set out in accordance with the Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993ï¿½ (OHS Act), to which people in the construction industry must abide by when working on construction sites- (cidb documents, 2008, p12 ). In many instances people knowingly do not follow regulations stipulated in the act. These eventually lead to serious problems and consequences for all parties involved. The problems that are to be discussed during this report will be conveyed from a sub-contractors perspective. Being the Safety Officer for a Ceiling and Partitions sub-contractor there are numerous problems that are experienced with regard to health and safety within the company itself as well as associated workers and main contractors. The focus of these problems is around those who do not abide by or adhere to the rules and regulations regarding health and safety in construction.
1.2. Information defining problem to be researched
1.2.1. Problems concerning the main contractor
On site there is a site management team put in place by the main contractor. This team is responsible to oversee the development of the project. Their job does not only involve the physical development of the project but the development and maintenance of high safety standards on site. The main contractor also appoints a Safety Officer who is based on site. He is assisted by a Safety, Health and Environment Representative (SHE Rep) with duties allocated to him in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, Section 17 and 18. On a daily basis the Safety Officer visits the site to ensure that the labourers are performing their tasks according to the correct health and safety standards.
Taking into consideration the fact that the Safety Officer has the assistance of the SHE Rep we still encounter a problem with regards to the ratio of workers to safety representation on site. It is virtually impossible for the Safety Officer and SHE Rep to monitor all workers on site continuously. There are Safety Committees established, in terms of Section 19 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 but these do not guarantee efficient health and safety control at all times.
There are also times in which the Safety Officer is allocated to more than one site thus leaving the SHE Rep to manage safety at the other site. In the case of an emergency is not always efficiently equipped to handle such a situation. There is also added pressure of meeting the deadline in order to avoid penalties. It is the main contractorsï¿½ prerogative to overlook certain health and safety conditions in order to meet the deadline and complete the project within the time constraints. This therefore implies that the safety standards on other sites are not always maintained.
1.2.2. Problems concerning the sub-contractor
Being a sub-contractor may involve different sites running concurrently. This puts a strain on the Safety Officer as he has the duty to manage health and safety on all sites. It is difficult for one person to be managing all projects at all times. Some sites will ask for safety talks to be held weekly where as others will ask for monthly safety talks.
ï¿½The practice of subcontracting is responsible for the
problem of casualization of labour. Casualization has
reached endemic proportions in South Africa and is
responsible for disproportionate H&S problems on sites
as responsibility lines are not very clear. Casual labour
is taken as the responsibility of the agent and not the
main contractor and therefore may not be provided
with H&S protection by the main contractors.ï¿½ (Clark, 2000)
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Actï¿½ the management of a company must provide all personal protective clothing (PPC) and equipment (PPE) for their workers, free of charge. In most companies the workersï¿½ pay for their gear and donï¿½t even realise or are not aware of their rights with regards to this aspect of employment. Conditions of health and safety are also very expensive and management may not wish to invest that much money into it. Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that one Safety Officer is allocated to as many as seven sites at a time. Considering the salary of a Safety Officer it is obvious as to why there are fewer of them in most companies and the number of projects they are supposed to manage at any given time. Why hire more Safety Officers and spend more money?
The communication barrier is also a big concern as most workers have a first language of Zulu or Xhosa and from personal experience not being able to speak either of these languages makes it very difficult to communicate with workers efficiently about matters concerning health and safety on site.
1.2.3. Problems concerning the workforce
The main problem concerning health and safety within the workforce is the communication barrier. Through research conducted it can be established that most of the workforce has a first language of either Zulu or Xhosa and little or no understanding of English. Thus causing a hindrance in the passing of information from Safety Officer to workforce.
Most of the workforce is obtained from underprivileged communities and are not well educated. This creates another fork in the road; workers may find it difficult to interpret the message of health and safety on site. Therefore we are faced with errors in executing certain tasks in a safe manner and often lead to incidents or injuries some of which may be fatal.
The workforce includes many people that are under some form of apprenticeship, learning and acquiring techniques from the more experienced workforce. They often pick up bad habits and shortcuts instead of doing things by the book the way they were taught. Workers are then set in their ways and this makes it difficult to educate them in the proper way of doing tasks with regards to health and safety as it is very difficult to kick a bad habit.
1.3. Information defining solutions to the problem
1.3.1. Solutions from the main contractor
It is quite obvious that not much can be done to increase the number of Safety Officers per site due the fact that some contractors may find out too costly or inconvenient. It is the main contractorï¿½s responsibility to appeal to the sub-contractor to assist the Safety Officer in the monitoring and controlling of the workforce as much as logically possible to help facilitate their work on site.
The main contractor should use the ratio 1:1 when it comes to Safety Officers per site. Managing one site would be easier than managing more than one. This is in the best interest for all involved. SHE Reps should be kept at a ratio of 1:20 or more as stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 17. Safety committees should be established where possible if there are two or more SHE Reps on site as stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 19. These regulations are there to maintain high safety standards on site and should be adhered to at all times. (Hudson, OHSA 2006;34 )
Double standards should be done away with. If there is a standard created on site with regards to health and safety it should be maintained at all times and should not be flexible to accommodate the needs of the main contractor or sub-contractors for convenience.
1.3.2. Solutions from the sub-contractor
For sub-contractors appointing a safety officer to every site is costly. Having the main contractors Safety Officer on site and the sub-contractor making regular visits may not be enough. Training should be done with workers on site so that they can facilitate the maintenance of standards of safety on site with regards to themselves and co-workers. In instances like updating the safety file workers should be able to fill in the relevant information regarding tools, equipment and workers on site. They could also do the weekly tool box talks themselves on matters which they feel are relevant. This encourages all workers to participate and discuss matters of concern.
Health and Safety needs to be taken more seriously by management. They must face the consequences of not providing the PPE, PPC and safety facilities as these can be very expensive.
As workers do all the work on a site it is the employerï¿½s responsibility to compensate the worker in case of injury. This is in accordance to the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993. This is very expensive if it is proven that the worker has contracted a disease, been injured or killed during employment. Workshops and team buildings should be held to increase awareness and morale of workers.
1.3.3. Solutions from the workers
Workers need to be more involved with safety on site. The main purpose of safety is to protect workers from being harmed or fatally injured whilst working on site. They need to realise that safety is for their best interest and will safe guard them provided that they are practicing working safely and responsibly. Workers need to ensure that they understand their rights and what is required of them. They need to take the initiative to understand what the rules are, why they should be followed and how it affects their work. Workers need to be encouraged to be more pro-active.
Most workers are under the impression that ï¿½that will never happen to meï¿½. Yet on a site anything can happen. Going to work puts one at risk immediately. You can work as safe as possible but it is impossible to control factors around you such as other workersï¿½ attitudes, poor maintenance or other site hindrances. A worker should be equipped with the knowledge to assess his surroundings before beginning a task to identify what hazards he may be faced with.
This thesis contains various pieces of data that will give deeper insight to the increase in the rate of injuries and fatalities. Most countries have basic requirements with regards to health and safety. It is normally required to establish a management system which should include a health and safety committee, election of safety representatives and periodical risk assessment . Small construction companies generally have difficulties in fulfilling these requirements. The owner or manager is the key person in putting proper procedures in place but they believe that it is the responsibility of the employees to protect themselves. On the other hand many owners see regulations and demands to improve health and safety standards as a financial burden which is too heavy and not realistic for a small construction company. In combination with the fact that accidents are rare. Therefore it is important to develop specific approaches that are effective but less costly. Another common problem is the use of professional terminology, that is difficult for most employees to understand. A conclusion that is drawn with regards to formal structures such as safety committees are difficult to establish and sustain because of the informal culture of the construction industry.
2.2 Data collection
The following information are based on South African
According to national statistics drawn from the records of FEMA for 2011:
ï¿½ 10 231 claims were registered (which is 1047 more than for 2010);
ï¿½ The amount paid out in claims was R104 million (R7 million less than in 2010)
ï¿½ 60 fatalities were registered (14 less than in 2010).
A more detailed analysis of the FEMA statistics shows that:
ï¿½ The dominating causes of injuries were struck by (44%), falls on to different levels (14%) and striking against (10%);
ï¿½ The dominating causes of fatalities were motor-vehicle accidents (MVAs) (47%), struck by (17%) and falls on to different levels (17%);
ï¿½ Penetrating wounds (30%) and superficial wounds (31%) predominated in terms of the nature of injuries sustained;
ï¿½ Multiple injuries caused 47% of fatalities;
ï¿½ Injuries to hands (24%), head and neck (19%), and legs (16%) were common anatomic regions involved
ï¿½ In terms of agency, automobiles (10%) and hand tools (6%) dominated as causes of injuries.
Construction worker dies after 9th floor plunge (2008):
The Labour Department is investigating the fatal injury of an Eastern Cape building construction worker who died after falling from a lift shaft in East London on Friday (April 25).
According to reports, Fernando Chevoto was busy pouring concrete for the form work at the 9th level of a hotel and apartment block site adjacent to the Regent Hotel on the city's beach front when he plunged to the ground. He died in the ambulance that was rushing him to hospital. Labour inspectors immediately halted all construction work at the site, and ordered the erection of safety guard rails along open areas. But operations were later allowed after inspectors were satisfied that all open areas and lift shaft has been suitably barricaded. The department is currently investigating whether the employer was fully compliant of Construction Regulations and whether general occupational health and safety procedures were followed at the time of the accident.
Source: Department of Labour
ï¿½Over the years local authority health and
safety and procurement professionals, with
the support of the Health and Safety
Executive, have developed the Contractor
Health and Safety Assessment Scheme
(CHAS). The scheme is available for use by
any public and private sector organisations to
use when shortlisting contractors, suppliers
and consultants (companies) who apply to
work for them. It provides information about
the health and safety part of their application.
Companies apply to join the scheme so
everyone knows they meet acceptable
standards of health and safety compliance.
Clients from both the public and private
sectors are users of the scheme.ï¿½ (CHAS (UK), 2008)
2.3 Data analysis
Table 1 depicts a drastic increase in the number of fatalities in 2011 as compared to 2008. All figures have more or less increased over the years, though the fact that many injuries go unreported should or needs to be taken into consideration. From looking at the data it can be said that with the upgrades in technology and the need for increased workforces health and safety has become harder to be implemented and understood.
In table 2 it shows that most injuries that occur on construction sites are due to employees being struck by equipment. This is followed by injuries caused by falls from different levels of a building during construction. Eventhough the number of fatalities had decreased from 2010 to 2011 the number of claims itself had increased.
From the data gathered contractors should be able to implement measures to make construction sites safer and prevent further fatalities due to the same cause. For example ensuring that every person on site has on the correct personal protective equipment to prevent injury in case of falling equipment and in the case of falling temporary safety railings can be put in place. Collection of data helps in implementing correct and relevant safety measures on a site and will help decrease the number of fatalities and claims over the period of the project.
In table 3/4 the data is shocking as the increase of falls, motor accidents, stuck, etc. increase. The current methods that are put in place are not enough to ensure a safe working environment as article 1 clearly represents. Labour inspection is not a regular act performed by local government officials resulting in the death of Fernando Chevoto.
3. Requirements of the Report:
3.1. Why is the problem being investigated?
The safety officer for a sub-contractor basically means that one is the middle man in safety. This job is the link between the safety concerned with the main contractor and the safety concerned with the sub-contractorsï¿½ workers. Basic tasks of a safety officer include conveying of messages of safety from the main contractor to the sub-contractorsï¿½ workforce. The most common problem encountered is with safety file audits. On some sites a safety audit is done periodically. To be found competent the file assessed has to have a rating of 75% or higher, this proves the competency of the company and they may remain on site. A memo is sent out reflecting the marks scored and the action to be taken to improve the score or maintain the score obtained. On other sites however in order to be deemed competent one has to have a rating of 90% or above. The problem with this is that the standard of Health and Safety is not maintained throughout. Audits should be standardized throughout construction companies in South Africa. This will allow all companies to be audited fairly according to the baseline audit. For example; most sites do not have a qualified First Aider and on a site a declaration may be signed stating that for the duration of the project the sub-contractor will make use of the main contractorsï¿½ First Aider as well as their first aid kits. Whereas on another site a declaration form is also signed stating that there is no qualified First Aider. However, the difference comes with the first aid kit. A safety kit must be provided by the sub-contractor, for workers on site and is to be kept with the site supervisor at all times. Failure to provide this will decrease safety audit rating by 5%. If there is no one qualified, on behalf of the sub-contractorsï¿½ workforce, and it is understood how it is that a first aid kit is required. The other issue with this situation is that who will be liable if medication (which is contained in some first aid kits) or health care is given by someone who is not qualified to handle a situation when an injury has occurred.
An example of injury on duty
An employee (Mr Thumb) of a sub-contractor was injured. His thumb was cut open whilst using a Stanley Blade. Upon further investigations it was found that Mr Thumb was not working under safe conditions. Mr Thumb was also involved in a near miss incident a few weeks prior to the Stanley Blade incident. Addressed by the main contractorsï¿½ Safety Officer when he was involved in the near miss incident he was informed that his carelessness was the cause of his near miss incident and he should work more cautiously whilst on site to avoid injury. When Mr Thumb got cut with the Stanley Blade he did not report the incident immediately as he was unaware of his rights regarding injury on duty (IOD). He thought he would lose his job if he reported the incident having just been involved in a near miss incident. However we have explained to him that even though it was his negligence that caused the incident it was not grounds for dismissal. It was then pointed out to him that in a very short space of time he was involved in two separate incidents and was becoming a hazard to himself as well as others around him. He was also informed that a future incident involving him will cause him to be temporarily removed from site and issued with a formal warning. This is a clear example showing that the worker was not aware of his rights regarding injury on duty and that he also didnï¿½t take the first incident seriously as he was involved in another one so quickly.
An incident occurred with one of our sub-contractorsï¿½ labourer. A scaffold was deemed unsafe by the inspector and was out of bounds until further notice. However, the labourer needed something at the top of the scaffold and proceeded to climb the outer of the scaffold without a helmet. He was caught doing so by the inspector. Legally, he should have been suspended or dismissed but the job needed to be completed by a stipulated date and time and did not permit us to follow protocol which is a time consuming process and would leave us one man short. So, in turn, we were advised by personnel of the main contractor to issue a letter of formal warning to our sub-contractor stating the offence. We were informed again that as the worker is under the employment of our sub-contractor and that we did not have the authority to terminate his services. The action we then took was to issue the letter and have the sub-contractor and his labourer sign it. The problem as I see it in this particular incident is that we (the sub-contractor) were unaware of the actions to take regarding the situation and to avoid complications agreed upon the possible solution given to us. Had we had enough time and had we been more cautious the proper action could have been taken, instead of a quick fix.
Another problem that comes to mind is one regarding an outsourced company handling Health and Safety on site. Before beginning the project a contractorï¿½s package was sent out to all sub-contractors. This contained a set of safety requirements that needed to be fulfilled before commencement on site and a copy of the information had to be sent to the Health and Safety Company for approval. The original would form part of the Health and Safety file for this project. This package stipulated that every employee was to be brought onto site and inducted prior to being called to work on the project; failure to comply will not grant workers permission to work on site. In the beginning there were seven employees on site. It was also a requirement of the main contractor that safety talks be held once a week or once every two weeks and that the file is updated monthly. This would be verified by monthly inspections an audit done by the safety company hired by the main contractor and failure to comply was greatly expressed. The problem came towards the end of the project when the workload and pressure of completing the project in time demanded an increase in workforce. The main contractor needed us to call in more teams to speed up the completion process which meant that we had almost 70% of workers on site. A double standard was set as none of the new teams was inducted before coming on site. Updating of files and safety talks were not compulsory anymore and no audits on our files had taken place in this latter stage of development of the project.
All the examples show a flaw in enforcing, implementing, adhering to and maintaining of the safety rules and regulations on a construction site.
3.1.1. Who does it affect?
The problems above show that consequences of poor Health and Safety management have a serious effect on all of parties involved in the construction industry and do not pertain only to the contractor, sub-contractor or workforce.
In the construction industry all the work is done by the labourers. Whether it be an unskilled, semi-skilled or specialist trades the work is always done by the labourers. The management is responsible for planning and controlling over the site which then makes it clear that they should be the ones implementing the health and safety standards on site. If management does not fulfil its responsibilities of creating awareness that is needed for health and safety then the workers will be at risk at all times on site. If management fails to create awareness the risk of harm will be greater and workers will not know how to conduct their daily work in a safe and low risk environment and management will be held responsible for the costs involved if any IODï¿½s or death has to occur.
Management alone cannot be blamed as sometimes safety rules are enforced and the workforce is not complying with what has been implemented. This again will affect the workforce directly. If plans are implemented to create awareness and the workforce does not comply to it they will be the ones who are affected the most and who will be liable for their own IODï¿½s. This means that even though workers are educated on safety hazards and understand what is being asked of him and they still behave in a way that endangers themselves or others, then they will be liable for the costs and damages caused.
Problems of health and safety could lead to accidents involving the public. This is a very serious issue and can be very costly to all those involved. If members of the public are harmed in any way by any tasks performed on site the main contractor is liable for costs incurred. After investigations if it is found that it was the negligence of the sub-contractor or his worker, the liability will still fall upon the main the main contractor, as he appointed the sub-contractor but the main contractor will then claim from the sub-contractor for the costs involved.
3.1.2. Where the problem derived from
The problems faced are based on the fact that in the history of construction, it has been found that health and safety was not something that was implemented on site. Historically speaking, there was no acknowledgement of health and safety awareness on a construction site. In the past workers were not aware of the risks involved in most tasks; there was no major concern with workers who would work at heights, they did not have as many rights as they do now at a construction site, they did not realize that certain tasks could be detrimental to their health (E.g. prolonged contact work with asbestos could lead to cancer).
However, upon various recent discoveries health and safety awareness was introduced onto site to prevent the amount of injuries, deaths and disabilities. At first it was not regulated by law and some companies did not allow the promotion of health and safety on site. They continued to work in the same manner without formal regard for health and safety. Eventually a Law was passed which regulated the conditions of health and safety on site which overall governed all companies and workplaces in terms of health and safety. Slowly the attitude of people changed as they accepted, maybe because they had no other choice, the conditions of the law.
Safety can be a learn-as-you-go system and has taken many years to develop a standard of health and safety across construction sites, to which all can conform to. The Occupational Health and Safety Act were passed in 1993, exactly 19 years ago. Even though so much time has passed people still have not settled into a routine of conducting health and safety measures on a correct and regular basis. Some still feel that there are ways to avoid doing so and that safety is not too important because they do not understand the full severity of it. They could blame it on the fact that safety was not a requirement by law in the past and therefore are having trouble incorporating it into their site development program.
3.2. How the problem is being investigated
Being the safety officer for a company it makes it easier for one to pick up and identify the issues faced on site regarding all the parties involved. On weekly or monthly visits, safety file audits as well as safety meetings that are held one becomes familiar with problems that arise. In most cases the problem comes to light usually after an incident has already occurred. This does however create a standard for the future as people will then be aware of the issue and try to prevent it as much as possible.
3.3. Possible solutions to the problem
3.3.1. Solutions from the main contractor
There are many ways in which the main contractor can provide solutions for their problems but all the solutions have to include all the people who are involved on site.
Firstly, there needs to be a more serious outlook upon health and safety. Itï¿½s pointless trying to warn people about the risks when they cannot see it for themselves. Usually on site they have notice boards placed in various locations, more awareness can be made by placing adverts on these noticeboards with visual examples of accidents and injuries that have occurred in the past. The point is that workers need to see what can really happen irrespective of what they are doing because damage can be cause by someone else so visuals can be placed saying that irrespective of the task or individual, injuries can happen.
The main contractor can also be more stringent with regards to health and safety file. The main contractor can then also request for the sub-contractorsï¿½ safety officer to be present once a week to check the safety file and update it as well as monitor the manner in which the tasks are being performed. If this cannot happen once a week, then the main contractor and the sub-contractorsï¿½ safety office can come to an agreement where they will settle on other arrangements.
3.3.2. Solutions from the sub-contractor
The Safety officer of the sub-contractor could use the help of a worker who is fluent in the language most common within the workforce to translate safety procedures thus overcoming the language barrier. The workers should be enlightened on ways that facilitate their jobs. This also allows the worker to be able to update a file or do a tool box talk if need be.
Sub-contractors need to understand the value of Health and Safety awareness. If there are companies that have been issued with penalties for violating health and safety regulations the information should be passed along to other companies so that they are aware of the consequences and can learn from these mistakes. . Once the information is spread, companies will then realize that the amount of money that is invested into health and safety awareness is far less than that of a penalty that will be issued for a violation, injury or accident.
3.3.3. Solutions from the labourers
If labourers become more involved with the health and safety process, it will benefit them tremendously. Once workers become more involved it will help them to understand what is being asked of them in terms of health and safety. They will be more aware of their working conditions. This will improve their attitude towards health and safety so that they will be safe guarded and aware of what is expected of them.
When workers help out the safety officer they will feel a greater sense of responsibility and belonging. This will make it easier to initiate them to educate themselves. Allowing workers to educate themselves will enable them to have a full understanding of their rights and what is allocated to them.
If there is a language barrier where the workers donï¿½t understand what is being asked of them, they need to speak up about it and inform their supervisors. Sometimes they agree when asked if they have understood even if they have not. Arrangements can be made to use another worker who understands English and is fluent in the most common native language. He can then be uses as a translator and relate the message to the workers and who they are trying to communicate with and vice versa.
4.1. Resource constraints
4.1.1. Time constrains
In a short space of time I have been able to identify many problems with regards to health and safety on site. Apart from my lack of experience the fact that we have many projects running concurrently and the time frame of each project makes it hard to identify and highlight the problems, put into place a system to overcome these issues and monitor progress. Safety is a timeous process and for the entire process to be documented would take up much time which is not always available.
4.1.2. Human restraints
When it comes to those who are involved in the construction that can be singled out as the ones to be blamed for certain issues, these people tend to withhold information that could possibly implicate them in matters which could lead to penalties or legal law suits.
People can be lazy when it comes to putting in the effort but try to cover up their behaviour to avoid being penalized. They also transfer the blame to avoid being involved. For example, on a site where we were working, an electrical worker was injured when a ceiling tile had fallen onto his face cutting his nose while he was trying to remove the tile to fix cables in the ceiling. On the inner perimeter of a room the ceiling grid work is not fixed to the walls, the grid work is hung from the roof structures or concrete slab. This sometimes causes the ceiling to shift. Being a finishing trade ceilings should be done after all electrical connections, air conditioning pipes and other services are completed. However on this particular site the electrical company was falling behind and we were given the go ahead to proceed with our ceiling work. When the electrical worker was trying to remove the ceiling tile it slipped out of the grid against the wall and fell onto his face cutting his nose. He then immediately informed his Safety Officer who then began proceeding that would make us liable for the injury. Luckily, for us, the main contractorsï¿½ site foreman witnessed the incident and was able to verify that we were not to be blamed. Firstly, we could not be held liable as our product was finished and if the worker had to remove the tiles he should have informed one of our workers to assist him in removing the tile to complete his work which he was behind in doing in the first place. Then, the worker should have been able to assess the risk involved when removing the ceiling tile. Even though it was our product that caused the injury, our product was not the hazard. The manner in which he removed the tile was the hazard which he could not avoid and thus resulted in an injury. Pinning the blame onto the ceiling sub-contractor to be liable was a first instinct but unfortunately it did not work and the matter was referred to as an IOD that only concerned the electrical sub-contractor.
4.2. Constraints regarding standards and codes of practice
4.2.1. What standards and codes of practice were imposed on site?
When safety is being implemented on site safety files are to be compiled first before commencing work on site. The files are then audited to see if the requirements that have been set out by the main contractor have been fulfilled. If the safety file does not meet the required standard the Safety Office is informed and outstanding information or improvements must be made to the file immediately or it will result in the contractor from being stopped from continuing work on site.
4.2.2. Who has to abide by these standards and codes of practices?
The people who are most concerned with the standards and codes of practices are the ones that impose them and those who are affected directly by them. This means that the main contractorï¿½ safety management, who imposes the standards and codes, as well as the sub-contractorsï¿½ safety management. Safety management comprises of the Safety Officer, the SHE reps, the safety committee and safety council. Each person must follow that standards and codes of practices whether they are the ones imposing it or affected by it, all must abide.
5. Cost of research
There is no actual cost for the report. Being the safety officer on site enables one to do research at no extra cost to the company. This also gives the opportunity to compile a list of problems and create solutions that do not hinder the time or development of the construction project. One does not need to take time off to do research as it can be done within working hours.
6. Benefits of the research
6.1. Who will benefit from the report and how
All the people who are concerned about Health and Safety will benefit from this report. The report was constructed in such a way that the parties concerned with health and safety on a construction site; being the main contractor and their Safety Officer, the sub-contractor and their Safety Officer and all the labourers on site, will be able to identify the faults and problems that could be caused by them or by those who are directly linked to them.
When those who are concerned with health and safety are able to identify possible errors in their actions and the ones linked to them, they will be able to investigate these problems and look for possible solutions. Sometimes they conduct their own investigations and create solutions according to guidelines provided.
The main focus is on the fact that they will be able to bring the problem out into the open and then find as many ways to resolve the issues which will then lead to less incidents, accidents or near misses on site.
7. Impact on the environment
7.1. How does Health and Safety impact the environment?
The environment on a construction site is constantly at risk due to the fact that during the development of the project an enormous amount of waste is created. The waste therefore needs to be disposed of as timeously and efficiently as possible.
Most materials on a site create some type of pollution which then effects the environment around it. . If any incidents occur which causes spillage, from paint or chemicals etc., will contribute to ground pollution. If hazardous chemicals are not disposed of correctly and are dumped into rivers and lakes it will cause water pollution. Some gases that are release may contribute to air pollution increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which in turn enables global warming. These are very severe cases but if it occurs over a long period of time it is most likely to happen.
7.2. Plans developed to decrease the harm on the environment
In safety, the SHE policy means Safety, Health and Environment. Risk assessments are carried out to see the types of effects each task has on these three elements.
The risk assessments have to be carried out in such a way so that workers can understand that the waste that is created is detrimental to the environment unless disposed of correctly.
On most projects the main contractor provides skips where general waste can be disposed of. The waste is then removed usually taken by a specialist removal contracted company and the waste is disposed in accordance with the waste products requirements. For example, plastic and paper may be recycled.
Most people are unaware of the fact that there is another intangible pollution that can be created on site which is called sound pollution. Certain tasks that require heavy duty machinery or excessive drilling can lead to increase in noise levels in certain areas which do not permit the noise and this violation can be a chargeable offence .