The elimination of inefficiencies and accident hazards caused by unfavourable working conditions and negligence about the workplace is essential in getting the job done properly and safely. The standards of Health and Safety on construction sites has become increasingly important over the past decade. The Laws are set out in accordance with the Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 OHS Act), to which people in the construction industry must abide by when working on construction sites. However, due to many reasons, people do not always follow the regulations stipulated in the act. This can lead to serious problems and consequences for all concerned. The problems that are to be discussed during this report will be conveyed from a site managers point of view. Being the Site manager for a construction company previously, I have witnessed first hand numerous problems that are experienced with regard to health and safety within the company itself as well as associated workers and sub contractors. The focus of these problems is around those who do not abide/ adhere to the rules and regulations and those who fail to enforce 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
The main contractor has a site management team who are expected to oversee the development of the project. This is not only with regards to the actual physical development of the project but the development and maintenance of a high safety standard on site. During the period of January 2011 - December 2011 I was involved in a R13 Million renovation project of the Mthatha Central police Station. My company had appointed me as Site Quantity Surveyor. However just two months later , the foreman resigned and I was forced to take on the role of foreman as well as site QS. I had established that the reason why my company did not want to hire another foreman, was to cut costs and save on (P&G 's). The company however was penalised in a OHS audit held on site on the 31 August 2011 ( see annexure 1).
The main contractor is required to appoint a site based Safety Officer. The main contractor is also required to appoint a Safety, Health and Environment Representative (SHE Rep) who will assist the Safety Officer with the duties. Daily, the Safety Officer of the main contractor is required to go onto site and monitor the manner in which the workers perform their tasks i.e. if it is in accordance with the correct health and safety regulations. During the period of January 2011 - December 2011 while I was on site, the company had not hired/Appointed a qualified safety officer, instead they appointed a junior quantity surveyor to take on the role. Once again the company illegally appointed some one who was not qualified and trained to take on the role. The company was penalised for this illegal appointment in safety audits held on the ;09 June 2011, 08 July 2011 and the 31 August 2011, by Mink line Consulting (see annexure 1).
The company had also been penalised for an expired 'Letter of Good Standing' in the audit held on the 03 May 2011.
Even with the help and assistance of the 'SHE Rep' there was a visual problem with the ratio of workers to safety representation on site. It was impossible for her to monitor all workers on site constantly. It was also difficult for her to have full control over the sub-contractors' workforce. Even though there are Safety Committees established, in terms of Section 19 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, these do not guarantee efficient health and safety control at all times.
In some instances the main contractor allocates the same Safety officer to 2 sites. If the Safety Officer is unavailable on one site, the SHE Rep is left to man the fort. In a case of an emergency a SHE rep does not always have the experience to handle a situation.
Also, as the project develops the pressure to complete the project on time to avoid penalties increases. This allows for the main contractor to overlook certain conditions in order to suit themselves and complete the project timeously. Therefore the safety standard is not always maintained.
1.2.2. Problems concerning the Main contractor
Sub-contractors, usually have more than one site running concurrently. Seeing as there might only be one Safety officer it will be difficult for the safety officer to service all the sites on time. On certain sites, safety talks have to be held once a week whilst others allow for them to be done once a month as in the case of Mthatha Central Police Station. This makes it very difficult on one Safety officer to be monitoring all sites at once.
As stated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act the management of a company must provide all personal protective clothing (PPC) and equipment (PPE) for their workers, free of charge. Most management structures try to avoid these costs and make the workers, who are unaware of their rights, pay for their PPC/PPE. I have witnessed the aforementioned first hand.
Management has also seen the conditions of health and safety as costly and therefore did not wish to invest too much money in it. This will relate to the fact that one Safety Officer was allocated to over seven concurrent sites. A qualified Safety Officer will earn around R8000 to R12000, depending on the company. For a company to hire another Safety Officer it will be very costly as the cost will double for the workload to be split. Management is not always very keen to hire more staff if it's not completely necessary.
Most workers speak either Zulu or Xhosa. With our safety officer having little or no lingual knowledge in the mother tongue created a communication barrier when she had to convey information concerning health and safety on site.
1.2.3 Poor Housekeeping On Construction Sites.
What is good housekeeping?
Efficient production and a good working environment are complementary. The elimination of inefficiencies and accident hazards caused by unfavourable conditions in and about the workplace is essential in getting the job done properly and safely.
The attention to these important details -which may be overlooked when management's attention is concentrated upon fast production, is widely referred to as good housekeeping.
Good housekeeping involves every phase of construction operations, and should apply throughout the entire site, indoors and out. It is more than mere cleanliness. It requires orderly conditions, the avoidance of congestion, and attention to details as an orderly layout of the whole site.
Why good housekeeping matters?
A clean , well-ordered, attractive work environment sets the tone of the construction Site. It encourages tidy work habits in employees. It helps reduce fatigue. It promotes good worker-management relations. It also gives a lift to morale, which is reflected in the quality of production and overall efficiency.
Good housekeeping is also a good advertisement for your company. Clients and customers have more confidence in an organisation when they see work being carried out efficiently in clean, well ordered surroundings.
There's an even more important reason why good housekeeping matters. It makes the undertaking a safer place to work in.
Stop accidents through good housekeeping
Good housekeeping is a vital factor in preventing accidents. The majority of all work accidents are caused during the handling of goods or materials, and by people falling ( From Scaffolding, falling Into Excavations, falling of buildings) being hit by falling objects, or striking against objects in the workplace. All these causes can be reduced by good housekeeping practices. In fact good housekeeping is the cure for most accidents which occur on construction sites.
Here are some kinds of accidents commonly caused by bad housekeeping:
Tripping over loose objects on floors, stairs and platforms.
Articles dropping from above.( Bricks, scaffolding, tools etc).
Slipping on greasy, wet or dirty surfaces.
Striking against projecting, poorly stacked, or misplaced material
Tearing the hands or other parts of the body on projecting nails, wire, steel strapping on bails or crates etc)
Typical examples of poor housekeeping that lead to these accidents are:
Excessive material, waste or chips in the working area
Congested work areas
Tools left on machines
Waste containers overflowing
Lockers and workrooms in disorder
Toxic acids in open containers
Electric leads or air lines across walking areas
1.2.3. Problems concerning the workforce
The main issue relating to health and safety with the workforce is the language barrier. As we have established that most workers have a first language of either Zulu or Xhosa, with little or no understanding of English. This hinders the relaying of vital health and safety information to them.
Then there is the fact that most of the workforce come from an underprivileged background and are not highly educated. This affects the learning process on site when workers are being trained to perform tasks in accordance to health and safety standards. When workers find it difficult to interpret the message of health and safety, errors occur in executing tasks in a safe manner and therefore lead to incidents or injuries some of which may be fatal.
Many workers work under some form of apprenticeship, learning and acquiring techniques from their superiors. This is not always the best way as they tend to pick up bad habits, which are easy to adopt, when it is the easiest and least stressful way to execute a task. Workers are then set in their ways; which may not be in the best interest of health and safety. So now when safety calls for changes in performance to tie in with the correct safety procedures, it is virtually impossible to get the workers to change their bad habits.
1.3. Information defining solutions to the problem
1.3.1. Solutions from the main contractor
Not much can be done to increase the number of Safety Officers per site, as for some cases it might be too costly or inconvenient. The main contractor can however appeal to the sub-contractors' Safety Officer to assist them in the monitoring and controlling of their workers as much as logically possible to help facilitate their work on site.
For the main contractor, the ratio of Safety Officers per site should be kept to 1:1. This is in the best interest for all involved. Stress relating to managing one site is enough; let alone adding another site to it.
SHE Reps must be kept at a strict ratio to workers as 1:20, or more, as stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 17. Safety Committees should be, where possible, established if there are two or more SHE reps allocated on site as stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 19. These regulations are there to maintain the high standard safety on site and should be adhered to at all times.
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 a sub-contractor to appoint a safety officer per site is very costly. With the main contractors' Safety Officer on site and the sub-contractor's Safety Officer making regular visits may not always be enough. Training should be done with workers appointed on site so that they can facilitate the maintenance of standards of safety on site with regards to themselves and their co-workers. For example when the safety file needs to be updated, 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.
Management also has to take Health and Safety more seriously. If they are too 'cheap' to provide the required PPE, PPC and safety facilities; they must be aware of the consequences of their actions as Health and Safety can be very expensive.
Management should understand that the workers are doing all the work on site. If they are injured while on duty it is the responsibility, in majority of the cases, for the employer to compensate workers in accordance to the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993. This is very costly if it is proven that the worker has contracted a disease, injured or killed during employment.
Workshops and team building exercises can be held to increase awareness and morale for workers.
1.3.3. Solutions from the workers
Workers need to become 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. Another challenge that workers need to overcome is the fact that if they don't know their rights or do not understand what is being asked of them, they need to address this issue. The initiative needs to come from them to understand why these rules are being put into practice and how it affects their work. The simple laid back attitude does not benefit them in anyway and they need to be more pro-active.
Workers also tend to have the attitude of 'that will never happen to me'. On site, there are many hazards and accidents waiting to happen. Workers can be working as safe as possible but they cannot control the factors around them such as; other workers' attitudes, poor maintenance or other site hindrances. Workers therefore need to be able to do a risk assessment of his working surroundings before each task to identify what hazards he may be faced with.
2. Research Team
This report was research by me as this was an individual assignment. I have the following credentials up to the due date for this report.
2.1. Curriculum Vitae of Rinalen Naidu
Date of Birth: 01/04/1987
Identity Number: 8704015151086
Residential Address: 135 Genazzano Road,
Contact Details: (W) 031- 465 1716
(C) 073 459 2075
Nationality: South African
Marital Status: Single
High School Attended: Seatides Combined
Qualification: Merit Exemption Pass In 2004
Tertiary Institute Attended: Durban University of Technology
Qualification: National Diploma: Building and Quantity Surveying
Company Name: Azcon Projects CC
Duration: June 2008 - Present
Description of Job: Measuring of Drawings, Compiling Tenders, Tender Valuations, Sub Contractor measures, monthly payments, assistant to senior QS, assistant to estimator, certificates and final accounts.
Reference: Ismail Seedat (Senior Qs)
(W) 031 - 4651716
(C) 082 7786 202
3. Requirements of the Report:
3.1. Why the is problem being investigated
A safety officer for a sub contractor is basically the middle man in safety. The job is the link between the safety concerned with the main contractor and the safety concerned with the sub-contractors' workers. The basic tasks in general is to convey messages of safety from the main contractor to sub-contractors' workforce. Whilst at various different sites I came across the following problems and realized that attention should be brought to these problematic areas in the work place.
Where we encountered our first problem was with safety file audits. On sites where (WBHO) is the main contractor a safety audit is done periodically. In order to be regarded as competent, the file is assessed and a rating of 75% or higher regards the company as competent and may remain on site. A memo is sent out reflecting the marks scored and action should be taken accordingly to improve or maintain the score obtained. On a site where Armstrong construction is the main contractor, a similar procedure is followed. However, in order to be deemed competent, the safety audit should yield a rating of 90% or above. The problem with this is that the standard of Health and Safety is not maintained throughout. Even though they are two different construction companies, the competency standard should be standard throughout the construction industry in South Africa. The audits should be standardized so that everyone can be audited fairly according to a baseline audit. For example; on all our sites we do not have a qualified First Aider and on a WBHO site we may sign a declaration stating that for the duration of the project we will make use of the main contractors' First Aider as well as their first aid kits. On a Armstrong Construction site a declaration form is also signed stating that we do not have a qualified First Aider. However, the difference comes with the first aid kit. A safety kit must be provided by us, the sub-contractor, for our workers on site and is to be kept with the site supervisor at all times. Failure to provide this will decrease out safety audit rating by 5%. If there is no one qualified, on behalf of the sub-contractors' workforce, and it is understood how is it that a first aid kit is required. The other issue I feel 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.
At Mthatha Central Police station an employee of the sub-contractor (D & H Flooring) was injured when he had his thumb cut open with a Stanley Blade. Upon investigations it was found that the worker was not working under safe conditions. This particular worker was also involved in a near miss incident a few weeks prior to the Stanley Blade incident. The worker was addressed by the main contractors; Safety Officer when he was involved in the near miss incident and was informed that his carelessness was the cause of the near miss incident and that he should be more cautious whilst working on site. When the worker got cut with the Stanley Blade he did not report the incident immediately, having not being fully aware of his rights regarding injury on duty (IOD). He felt as though he will lose his job if he reports the incident having just been involved with a near miss incident previously. However, he was spoken to and explained to that even though it was his negligence that caused the incident and near miss it was not grounds for dismissal. It was then pointed out to him that in such a short space of time he was involved in two separate incidents and that he was becoming a hazard to himself and soon to be a hazard to others around him. He was also informed that a future incident involving him will cause him to be removed temporarily off site and be issues a formal warning. This clearly indicated that the worker was not aware of his rights as worker if he felt he would lose his job for being involved in an incident on site. It also shows that the worker did not take the first incident seriously if he was involved so quickly in another one.
At St Lucy's HospitalÂ³ an incident occurred with one of our sub-contractors' labourer. A scaffold was deemed unsafe by the inspector and was out of bounce 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 was being pushed to be completed by the stipulated date and time did not permit us to follow the timeous process. 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 found is that of the updating of safety files. The main contractor at Mthatha Central Police station had an out sourced company handling their Health and Safety (Mink Line Consulting). Before commencing on site a 'contractors' package' was sent out to all subcontractors. This was 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, and the original would form part of the health and safety file for the project. It stipulated that every employee that was to be brought onto site had to be inducted before being called to work on the project, failure to do so would not grant workers permission to work on the site. At start up there were only 15 of our workers on site. It was also a requirement of the main contractor that safety talks should be held once a week or once in two weeks and that the file had to be updated monthly. This was verified by monthly inspections an audit done by the external safety company hired by the main contractor and failure to comply was greatly expressed. The problem came towards the end of the project about two to three months before hand over when the workload and pressure of completing the project in time demanded an increase in workforce. We needed to call in more teams to speed up the completion process which meant that we had almost 70% of our workers on site. A double standard was then set as none of the workers were inducted on this site before coming on to 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 the development of the project.
All the above situations show that there was clearly a problem with the enforcing, implementation, adhering to and maintenance of the safety rules and regulations on a construction site.
3.1.1. Who does it affect?
The above listed problems have serious effects on many parties involved in the construction industry and do not pertain only to the main contractor, sub-contractor or workforce individually.
In construction, all the work is done by the labourers. Whether it be an un-skilled, semi-skilled or specialist trades the work is always done by the labour. The management is responsible for the planning and controlling over the site which then makes it clear that they should be the ones who are implementing the health and safety standards on site. If management does not create the awareness that is needed for health and safety then the workers will be at risk at all times on site. Management has to enforce the rules so that the workforce can be informed and actively take part safety awareness for all. If management fails to create this 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 IODs, or worst case death, has to occur.
On the other hand, sometimes safety rules are enforced and it is the workforce who does not comply with what is being implemented. This again will affect the workforce directly. If plans are put into place to create awareness and to increase the standard of health and safety on site and the workforce does not comply, they will be the ones who are affected the most and who will be liable for their own IODS. This means that if workers are educated on certain safety hazards and they understand what is being asked of them, and they still behave in a way that endangers themselves or others, then they will be liable for the costs and damages created.
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 anyone of the public is harmed in any way by any tasks that were being performed on site, the main contractor will be held liable for the costs involved. If upon investigation it is found that it was the negligence of the sub-contractor or his worker, the liable will still fall upon 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 (eg. 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.
Because safety is a learn-as-you-go type of system it took 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 was passed in 1993 which means the Act has been put into power for eighteen years.
Unfortunately, even though so much time has passed, people have still not settled to the routine of conducting health and safety 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
I have liaised with our company Safety Officer on site for the full duration of a few projects, therefore it makes it very easy for me to pick up and identify the issues faced on site regarding all the parties involved. While on weekly or monthly site visits, safety file audits and safety meetings that are held one becomes familiar with the problems that arise. Unfortunately, most of the time the problem is highlighted after an incident has occurred. But this does create a standard for the future as people will then be aware of the issue and try to prevent it as much as possible.
Most of the data is collected from various sites and have been compiled into this report. However, some companies were very reluctant to allow me to use their information which made it difficult to provide evidence on the cases.
The bulk of the report data is from incidents that occurred on site where my company was working on. Some of the incidents do not only involve the workers from my company. Where possible annexures will be included to provide proof of the course taken to rectify and prevent future accidents.
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. It's 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 notice boards 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.
Another thing that the main contractor can do is be more stringent when it comes to health and safety file and adherence that the sub-contractor has to have for the main contractors' enforcement of health and safety. What this means is that the main contractor has to be stricter when it comes to the sub-contractor. The sub-contractor must fully comply with the requirements of the main contractor in terms of health and safety. The safety file audits should yield a 100% rating because what is required in the file is essential. Any part that is missing whether it is an appointment or a register should suspend the progress of the sub-contractor on site until the required information is required. As harsh as this sound, one cannot determine the equivalence of one requirement to another.
The main contractor can then also request for the sub-contractors' 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-contractors' safety office can come to an agreement where they will settle on other arrangements.
3.3.2. Solutions from the sub-contractor
For the issue of the language barrier, the Safety Officer of the sub-contractor should request the help of a worker who is fluent in the language that is most common to help translate and relate the message to the workers. The Safety Officer should also enlighten workers on ways that will facilitate their job. This means that if or when the Safety Officer is unable to update the file, or do tool box talks etc, a worker should be able to fill in the required details upon the request.
The Sub-contractor also needs to understand the value of Health and Safety awareness. If there are other companies that have been issued with penalties for violating the health and safety regulations, the information should be passed along to others so that other companies can learn from their mistakes. Where possible to protect the company that has been involved, personal information can be excluded. 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.
A good way to increase morale and boost involvement of health and safety awareness amongst workers will be to hold regular workshops or team building exercise. This helps not only by treating workers to a break where they will enjoy the company of fellow workers, but will also help to train and educate workers at the same time.
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.
If workers help out the Safety Officer they will have a greater sense of responsibility. This will give them a sense of belonging and will want to have more responsibilities. Once they have this sense of responsibility is it easy to initiate them to educate themselves. If workers educate themselves in terms of health and safety they will have a full understanding of their rights and what is allocated to them.
If there is a language barrier where the workers don't 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
Having liaised with the Safety Officer at my company for only a year, there has not been sufficient time and experience for me in the field of health and safety. But, in this 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 and 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 it 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 are also not very forthcoming when it comes to health and safety as some are just too lazy to put in the effort but try to cover up their behaviour to avoid being penalized. People also try to transfer the blame as quickly as possible 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 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 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 sub contractors' 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 task 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. 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 must be compiled before commencing with 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.
On different sites, the bulk of the requirements are the same however there are times in which they can vary drastically. Some projects , 'green' projects' need the materials to be least taxing on the environment. Quality Assurance is an entire new concept that most are unaware of, but seeing that health and safety deals with the preservation of the environment it needed to be included. The problem that we faced with this is that we had never had to compile a quality assurance file before and it was very difficult. This file gets audited so failure to meet the standard would have resulted in our monthly valuation payments being withheld until the file met the required standard. The file had to have checklists for each task done on site to ensure quality for each process. It also had to include material safety data sheets (MSDs). Failure to provide any of these documents would result in withholding of payment.
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 contractor' safety management, who imposes the standards and codes, as well as the sub-contractors' 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. Having liaised with Safety consultant for my company it has allowed me to gather the required information that was needed for the basis of the report at no extra cost. This was such because I was site based and had weekly site visits to some of the sites discussed in this report and I was actively involved in the safety processes.
Having being so involved I was able to compile lists of problems and create solutions in a way that did not hinder the time or development of the construction projects. I did not have to take time off to investigate as it was within my working hours that I collected the relevant information.
6. Benefits of the research
6.1. Who will benefit from the report and how
People who are concerned with 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 actions of the ones linked to them, they will be able to investigate these problems and look for possible solutions. Sometimes it is also possible for them to conduct their own investigations and come up with their own possible solutions based on the guidelines given.
The solutions that have been given may not always be the best possible solution and people may find that they see the problem from a different aspect and may find better ways to counteract the problem.
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 the Health and Safety impacts the environment
The environment is constantly at risk on a construction site due to the fact that during the development of the project a great amount of waste is created. This needs to be disposed of as timeously and efficiently as possible.
Most materials on 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.
Health and safety standards have to be developed to eliminate or minimize the amount of waste produced on site. It must also involve the workers on site as they are the ones who are handling the materials and disposing of the waste products.
If certain plans are not developed to aid the preservation of the environment it will lead to serious consequences that will affect the site itself as well as the communities and surrounding areas which could amount to hundreds and thousands of Rands in damage costs.
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.
7.2.1. Who creates the plan
According to the OHS ActÂ¹ provisions and awareness must be made to educate people on the conservation of the environment in relation to the tasks in which they perform every day. In all risk assessments workers need to be informed as to what waste is being created daily, what effects these wastes have
Most main contractors have issued a fairly new requirement, which must be provided in the company safety file is an Environment Management Plan. This plan must include a description of the waste that is generated by the specific company as well as methods in which the waste will be disposed of. If an external company such as 'Reclam' or 'Wasteman' is contracted to remove specific materials, for example Reclam disposes of aluminium waste and Wasteman disposes of glass waste accordingly, the main contractor should be notified.
In terms of general waste that does not need to be removed by a specialist removal company, the main contractor provides skips or designates dumping areas on site where the waste can be left. The main contractor takes full responsibility of the waste and has the waste collected and disposed of accordingly, which will then be charged to the designated sub-contractor for the amount of which depends on the size and severity of the waste created.
If, for example, the site is situated in a place that noise does not permit like a live hospital, arrangements are made by the main contractor which allows the noisy work to be performed under controlled conditions or at specific times of the day that would be confirmed by the hospital itself.
7.2.2. Who has to abide by these plans
If the main contractor has made the requests, then the main contractors' workforce as well as the sub-contractor and his workforce must abide by these requests.
If in the case of the site where the live hospital is concerned, the rules will apply to the main contractor who then has the responsibility of informing and controlling the various sub-contractors in which the rules will apply to specifically.
7.2.3. What cost factors are involved
When sub-contractors have contracted their own waste removal company, they are liable for the payment of their own waste removal. A way in which to reduce the costs will be in the case of where general waste is created, and where the sub-contractor does not wish to use the main contractors' waste solutions. Here the sub-contractor may offer others the service of the contracted waste removal services and in turn they will then share the costs amongst themselves.
If sub-contractors decides on using the designated waste areas or skips that have been provided by the main contractor they will have to pay the main contractor for the use of these facilities. The main contractor will control the area in which specific sub-contractors collect their waste and then a penalty will be charged to the sub-contractor for the use of this facility. The costs are calculated on the amount of waste generated and the time and frequency in which the waste needs to be removed off site. The costs will vary and is generally very high as most main contractors are trying to create a greater sense of conservation nowadays. When the costs are calculated the sub-contractor is informed and penalty is deducted from the monthly valuation of the contractors work that has been completed.
When a company is producing an excessive amount of waste it may be called for a temporary suspension off site, depending on the attitude the main contractor has towards environmental preservation. The sub-contractor has to then find alternatives for the disposal of waste or reconsider the materials used to reduce the waste if at all possible. The sub-contractor must then issue the new plan of waste removal to the main contractor for approval and will then be notified on the results. This is a timeous process, and if the sub-contractor is suspended off site it means that his cash flow and hand over date will be compromised which will affect him financially. When the hand over date is compromised, longer working hours have to be put in therefore that is extra costs and penalties will be issued from the main contractor for every day that exceeds the hand over date. This amount is site specific which depends on the project size and the importance of the job.
The main aspect of this report was to identify who was not enforcing the safety rules and regulations and who was not adhering to them. We looked at who was causing the problems that would eventually lead to danger and harm, and we looked at solutions to combat the problems that have been caused.
If safety has not been given the exposure it deserves workers are put at risk and the company will then be severely liable for the outcome of those situations if an incident or accident occurs. We have come to the conclusion that it is the safety management (main contractors' Safety Officer and sub-contractors' Safety Officer) who has to enforce safety on sites and bring upon greater awareness for all workers. They have to keep enforcing the rules and regulations so that everyone will be able to work more safely and decrease any potential risks to the health and safety of themselves or those around them.
Workers also don't adhere to the safety rules and regulations which puts them at risk, they need to be more open minded when it comes to health and safety. It is also the responsibility if the workers to take the onus upon themselves to educate themselves on their rights so that they have the knowledge to see for themselves what is required from them in terms of health and safety that will inevitably be to their own benefit. They should also follow the safety rules and regulations set out for them by the safety management (main contractors' Safety Officer and sub-contractors' Safety Officer). Together with their own knowledge and the rules set out for them, they will be able to see what is most important for them in terms of health and safety whilst working on site.
If all who are concerned with health and safety take the time and effort to act in accordance with the safety rules and regulations it will be a better future for all on site. Less injuries or accidents will occur and the standardization of safety amongst construction sites may have the opportunity to develop.