Construction is one of the most hazardous industries, with a dynamic working environment and frequently changing arrangements and activities on site. Hence ensuring safety, in such a workplace, poses significant challenges. With an ethos that all accidents are preventable, a keen sense in detecting potential hazards and risks needs to be combined with adequate preparation & control measures. The techniques essential to operationalize the predetermined control measures needed to achieve a zero-accident workplace are illustrated as follows
Safety Training/ Awareness
Workers may already be skilled / competent in the work that they perform, but this is not guaranteed that they will be able to perform their work in a safe manner. Therefore, it is essential to provide an induction to the workers, not only all potential hazards / risks associated with their work, but also the hazards / risks associated with their coworkers’ job roles as well. Furthermore, workers need to be trained and made aware on control measures (procedures, work instructions, etc.) periodically as well as when there is a change made to these measures (e.g. new machinery, layout change, etc.). Such diligence in repeating this information to workers is to avoid and reduce the effects of any potential accidents.
The very first stage of operationalizing control measures, is communicating their requirements. Accidents are more likely to occur when workers are not clear on what they are dealing with and what they are expected to do. To have a strong communication system, it is essential to predefine what to communicate (e.g. hazards/ risks associated with in the workplace, job descriptions and responsibilities, emergency responses, emergency communication, communication for critical operations such as crane operations, etc.) and how to communicate it, with a constant valuation into the suitability of the selected communication channels.
Proper documentation ensures that everything planned is put into practice, and will help detect any deviations from the work carried out from what has been expected. Therefore, effective documentation will also work as a control measure, as it is a tool to evaluate compliance against the requirements (e.g. checklists, inspections, evidence on communicating requirements, etc.). Furthermore, documentations on legal requirements (permits, license, approvals, etc.) and relevant site evaluations, are mandatory, as violations of such requirements affect the entire operation.
Appropriate Equipment/ machinery
All equipment and machinery need to be suitable & safe for the work site, and the appropriate personal protective equipment must be sourced and maintained to ensure a safe workplace. It is obvious, that failure to provide the appropriate equipment to a worker will increase his chances of meeting with an accident. Furthermore, all such equipment / machinery must be well maintained and subject to periodic inspection, servicing, and repair to meet the standards for safe use.
Working under Supervision
One of the major issues with regards to safety is that the workers who are directly engaged with the work on site do not take seriously or do not fully understand the consequences of inadequate safety precautions. That is why every site needs a supervisor who is well familiar with the hazards / risks of the work being carried out. The supervisor should take necessary arrangements including instructing workers under him prior to the commencement of any work to ensure their safety on site. Furthermore, the supervisor shall be responsible for enforcing control measures and ensuring that no worker deviates from the safety requirements laid down.
Rewards and Punishments
A safe workplace is only possible, when everyone thinks and practices safety. This makes it clear that one’s bad practices not only affect the safety of oneself but also the safety of others. Therefore in order to ensure that all workers come on board to collectively work together to ensure a safe workplace, some sort of reward and punishment system is needed to take measures against those who do not conform to the laid down guidelines, while at the same time highlighting workers who adhere to them, in order to cultivate a positive culture around workplace safety.
As long as the management is committed to a safe workplace, there is no reason to cover up accidents when they do happen. The best thing that can be done is to learn the lessons from the accidents took place to avoid similar incidents from recurring. This is where an investigation helps not only to identify the root causes for a particular accident but also to reveal other potential accidents that may occur, to allow the management to act accordingly to prevent them.
Content Submitted by Fahim Mohamed