Masaaki INABA-Senior Manager of Construction Department, TOA CORPORATION-
Recently, “Safety” in construction projects becomes everybody’s concern, and it is also understood as one of the most important elements of a successful construction project.
Although Contractors are making best efforts on Construction Safety, unfortunately incidents /accidents occur in some projects.
This paper will introduce some of actual safety procedures and safety practices in the Safety Plan, which include our current safety standard procedure and our experience in projects all over the world. At the same time, we would like to suggest some efficient actions, which can be easily taken based on our previous construction experience
2. BASIC ESSENCE OF CURRENT SAFETY PLAN IN OVERSEAS CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
2.1. FETY LAWS AND REGULATIONS
It is a basic requirement to observe safety regulations and laws of the Country where a project is planned to be carried out and the Project Owner’s safety requirements in order to implement the construction project.
At the same time, we have adopted our own safety procedures based on
OHSAS and know-how which we had obtained through the other construction projects.
2.2. SAFETY ACTIVITIES
Our Basic Safety Activities at site consist of the following main elements:
2.2.1. Safety and Accident Prevention Program
2.2.2. Safety Committee & Safety Patrol
2.2.3. Safety Training & Education
2.2.4. Safety Award
2.2.5. Other Activities
3. XAMPLE OF INCIDENT AT SITE
The above safety activities are implemented at site in accordance with the safety plan by parties involved in the project at all levels including the Owner, the Consultant, the Main Contractor, Sub-Contractors and workers in order to ensure and maintain a safe workplace and to carry out work without any incidents.
Though every party concerned makes its best, unfortunately some incidents occur at construction site. This section will focus on one incident (Near Misses) at actual construction site and give the possible reasons which had caused the incident.
3.1. NEAR MISS INCIDENT
Fig. 1 Near Miss Incident
This near miss incident is not a serious accident at the moment but it is a clear sign of a possible serious fatality in the future. Once such incident occurs, the safety correction action plan is established immediately. The causes are identified and remedial actions are carried out as soon as possible.
3.1.1. The cause:
Human error: The operator has released the brake lock of the swing system during the preparation for loading of a crawler crane at the site. However, he might have forgotten to lock the manual brake of the swing system for transportation of the crane.
3.1.2. Remedial Actions
a. Regular maintenance and daily check of all equipment on site have been reinforced.
b. Trailer drivers and crew have attended a road traffic safety refreshing training course once again.
4. MEASURES TO IMPROVE SAFETY
The above Near Miss incidents have been immediately reported to the relevant parties, and the causes of the incidents were investigated and analyzed.
Finally, we have concluded that the following items were the main causes of the incidents.
a. Insufficient involvement of Management into Safety Activities
b. Insufficient Training for Workers/Operators
c. Inadequate Communication Flow
4.1. TOP MANAGEMENT INVOLVEMENT INTO SAFETY ACTIVITY
As a result of our investigation and analysis, we have found out that Main Contractor’s management should contribute more to daily safety activities. Therefore, as an improvement measure, we have concluded to increase the number of our safety officers who can participate in Daily Safety Talk (Tool Box Meeting), which are held in groups. This action is required to verify and ensure that workers at site do understand and implement our requirements for safety.
4.2, REINFORCEMENT OF TRAINING
The above near miss examples demonstrate that, both incidents are related to the construction equipment. It is obvious that additional trainings and safety education for the construction heavy equipment operators are required. Therefore, we have established a new scheme of safety training for operators.
At the same time, we have rechecked the knowledge and training history of the other trade workers as a preventive measure in order to ensure that these workers had enough knowledge to carry out their work safely. As a result, it was found out that some workers needed additional training. Taking this into account, the whole training program was reviewed and a new training scheme was established which provided more detailed training courses on scaffolding, lifting works, electrical equipment, etc.
4.3. RE-CONFIRMATION OF SAFETY INSTRUCTION FLOW
When the above Near Miss incidents occurred, the management response was not efficient and timely. The review of Safety Instruction Flow Chart has shown, that the main Contractor Management had mostly relied on their safety officers without own personal involvement.
Based on this fact, the safety instruction Flow Chart has been improved to rectify the situation. As a result of this improvement, the site management can give adequate instructions and take necessary actions promptly in case of incidents.
In recent years, all parties involved in construction do recognize that “Safety” is one of the most important elements for a successful construction project, and that the incidents/accidents may cause the project schedule delay resulting in higher project costs than expected.
The occurrence rate of accidents/incidents becomes smaller because of great efforts taken by relevant authorities and contractors to introduce new techniques and provide more training courses and safety education for employees. However, it is understood that there is still a room for safety improvement.
For the purpose of a further improvement, we would like to emphasize the importance of following points from our construction experience point of view.
5.1. FLEXIBILITY OF SITE MANAGEMENT
It is well known that every construction project is unique in terms of its location, weather conditions and persons involved. Therefore, it is essential that all parties related to the construction project have to be flexible and cooperative so that the site organization has to be quickly established to be well fitted for a safe work in relatively short time. It might take more time to set up the safety system for a new project and bring it into efficient operation because the understandings of safety matters may be different depending on educational, cultural background and previous work experience.
5.2. TRAINING/EDUCATION SYSTEM FOR WORKERS
As mentioned above, persons and parties involved in a construction project may understand the safety system requirements in a different way. It is very important that the training/education system at site shall be established considering the degree of the Sub-Contractor management safety awareness and the level of workers’ education and knowledge as well as their safety consciousness.
5.3. COMMUNICATIONS AMONG PARTIES INVOLVED
This matter has to be considered at all levels, i.e. management level, engineer level, safety officer level and worker level. Usually a Safety Program is well established by Main Contractors. However, one of the most important points is related to the implementation of the Safety Program at site. In overseas project, the local Sub-Contractor management and local workers are the key parties for the safe site construction work. Therefore, if the policy and some details of Safety Program can not be well understood by the above parties, the project Management faces difficulties on safety compliance and it is sometimes impossible to maintain a safe workplace at site continuously. Thus, it is very important to constantly monitor whether a good communication is established or not.
It is also very important to maintain good relationship and feedback between site management and workers to personally demonstrate commitment to safety at site. This encourages workers to follow the safety requirements and work safely on their own intent because they fully realize that their safe work benefit both to their families and a successful completion of the project.
5.4. IMPROVEMENT OF LOCAL SUB-CONTRACTOR SAFETY CONSCIOUSNESS
It is recognized in some project that local sub-contractor management and local workers have relatively low safety consciousness and safety knowledge. In this case, the project management shall establish a special Training/Education Program to enhance the safety knowledge and bring Safety Consciousness to the required level.
Construction work can be carried out without incidents. This challenging objective depends on all Parties involved in construction. To achieve this target, everybody at construction site should understand the value of Safety and jointly ensure it all the time not because of the Regulation and Law Requirements, but because of one’s own intent to work safely. That is in our understanding is the key to a successful implementation of a construction project to be carried out in harmony continuously improving site safety system and keeping in mind that safety is top priority in the project.