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Accident prevention

As described in the previous paragraph, the British law through its regulations on health and safety in the construction industry creates a framework organised to limit accident occurrences on worksite and even more generally during all the phases of the construction process. However, preventing accident isn't just based on the application of the law. It is necessary to build up systems of health insurance and safety management that apply the law by thinking of what really happening instead of just applying rules. The target is to promote the subject of safety, influence human behaviour and limit the opportunities for mistakes to be produced. This way, the number of accidents and injuries can be reduced (St John Holt, 2005).

Several techniques have been elaborated to prevent accidents. The main one described here contains seven principles (St John Holt, 2005):

Eliminate hazards : avoid risk

Tackle risks at its source

Work should be adapted to the individual

Use of technology : use new development of equipment, plants

Prefer consider the protection for the whole workplace instead of only individuals

Make sure everybody knows what should be done to be safe and healthy at work

Ensure that everyone comply with health insurance and safety management

Those seven principles try to raise the way people behave towards health insurance and safety matters. To be able to apply these principles, the HSE recommends the machine of management predicated on the control loop (Plan-Do-Check-Act). This technique is composed of the five key elements as follow (HSE, 1997):

Policy - Organising - Implementing - Measuring performance - Reviewing performance - Auditing performance


Health and Safety Policy

Any company employing five or even more folks is obliged to truly have a written safety policy statement. This liability is imposed by the HSWA. The goal of this policy is to demonstrate the company's commitment to health insurance and safety. It's the responsibility of the very most senior manager to sign and date the statement and make sure the policy is implemented by everyone in his company (Howarth & Watson, 2009).

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Organising for health and safety

To reach a high degree of organisation in health and safety, it is essential that both managers and employees motivate themselves and get involved an focused on create a safety culture in their company. This safety culture is defined by the HSE as 'the culture of the four Cs' (Howarth & Watson, 2009):

Competence : provide training, instruction and recruit adequately

Control: allocate good tasks on supervisors and secure commitment

Cooperation and Coordination: use representatives to represent employees and managers and coordinate activities between projects and resources.

Communication: inform about risks, hazards and preventive measures adopted

Planning and Implementing

Planning causes prove that efforts designed to prevent accident work and also to ensure health and safety issues are well recognized and tackled. Which could permit in a reduction of insurance costs, a reduction of absenteeism due to a wholesome workers, a rise of productivity and quality. Those factors demonstrate an efficient planning in the health and safety management can bring about a more profitable project (St John Holt, 2005).

Measuring performance

Measuring the performance of the plan and its own implementation allows to find out its weaknesses and find answers to improve it. The info acquired by monitoring the system permit the managers to determine how well is medical and safety culture they try to develop (HSE, 1997).

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Reviewing performance

Risk Assessment

In everyday activity, hazards can be found in many locations, many activities and can be encountered at every minute. By definition, the word 'hazard' means 'the inherent property or ability of something to cause harm' (St John Holt, 2005). It is important to make the difference between the words 'risk' and 'hazard'. A risk can be define as 'the odds of harm occurring and follows all the possible harms inherent in a hazard by reference to the severity and possibility of that harm occurring' (Fewings, 2005). The chance assessment can be an important part of health insurance and safety management. It is done through the preparation of the construction project. Most of the specialists define this content of the risk assessment in five steps (HSE, 2009) :

Identify hazards

Decide how hazards can harm people and who are those people

Evaluate and rank risks and take corrective actions

Record and implement the findings and communicate the rest of the risks to every stakeholders

Review the chance assessment over a periodic basis and update it if necessary

Despite the chance assessment is completed by Clients and Designers, every companies participating to the construction process should carry out their own risk assessment for the specific tasks they will execute as well as for the safety of their workers (HSE, 2006).

The risk assessment should not be done at the end of the look. By working on it at the start of the design, designers can integrate hazardous matters directly in their design and remove or decrease the risk at its source. Inside the construction industry, every site is different from another. That implies, no tasks are totally repetitive, the design should be unique for one specific worksite and everything the hazards appreciated every times (WS Atkins Consultants, rev A. Gilbertson, 2004).

Identify Hazards

Workplaces and construction sites more particularly are places where lots of hazards can be identified. It is then essential for the safety of workers and the general public to recognize all the hazards related to the construction activity and then undertake an efficient risk assessment to eliminate or limit the potential risks associated with these hazards preventing accidents (Howarth & Watson, 2009).

In the construction industry, the task zone is a high-risk environment where fatal but also nonfatal injuries are made by accidents. Highway construction and maintenance can be an even more hazardous workplace due to existence of traffic. Bryden distinguishes two varieties of accidents: construction accidents and traffic accidents (Bryden & Andrew, 1999):

¶ Construction accidents are those which are involved in the construction process and that are not related to traffic activity.

¶ Traffic accidents represent all accidents involving a motor vehicle intrusion into the traffic managed zone of the task site and colliding with another vehicle, a pedestrian, an object or construction equipment.

More at length, safety hazards encountered on construction projects can be put into five categories of origin (Howarth & Watson, 2009):

local environment: weather conditions (snow, extremes of heat), contaminated ground, light level, occurrence of ground water.

work activities: excavations, working at height, insufficient supervision, falling objects, trench collapse, excessive noise, electrocution

lack of knowledge and scarcity of attitude and behaviour: insufficient awareness of hazards present on site, untidy sites, smoking and use of mobile phones on site, lack of understanding of site rules and evacuation procedures, non-use of personal protective equipment, tiredness, hangover

movements of men and women and equipment: no separation of vehicle and pedestrian routes on site and access at site entrance, insufficient signage or suitable fencing, use of plants or vehicle by non-qualified personnel, insufficient maintenance, no traffic management system

materials: storage, transportation and use of hazardous materials, removal of contaminated materials, fire

During the hazards evaluation, Clients and Designers use to split the construction work into several activities corresponding to various tasks. Then they gather information related to hazards determined for those tasks that can be collected by old inspection or accident reports readings, by requiring information to insurance companies, manufacturers, consultants, government agencies. . . (St John Holt, 2005). This area of the risk assessment in essential to reduce the harm caused by these hazards.

To give a good example of recurrent accident that occur on worksites, the HSE gives the most frequent factors behind accidental death and injury in one of its practical guidance (HSE, 2006):

Falls : unsafe workplace, inadequacy of access to and from the workplace

Mobile plant: poor visibility, reversing materials, pedestrian employees walking on the site

Falling materials and collapses: people stuck by reversing loads or buried during excavation, unexpected structure collapses

Electrical accidents: work near to power line or buried cables

Transportation: trip accidents, transfer, access to and from sites

It also provide a couple of causes of recurrent diseases provoked by bad working conditions or hazardous substances (HSE, 2006):

Asbestos: respiratory diseases

Manual handling: back injuries due to repetitive lifting

Noise and vibration: hearing loss, hand-arm shaking syndrome

Chemicals: eyes and skin problems

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