BUILDING CONTROL ADVICE ON SAFE WORKING IN CONSTRUCTION

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1 BUILDING CONTROL ADVICE ON SAFE WORKING IN CONSTRUCTION The main health, safety and welfare problems in the construction sector include: falls from height (death or serious injury) properly planned work at height, selecting the right equipment for the job & ensuring it is competently erected (collective protection e.g. barriers, crash decks and safety nets should have priority over safety harnesses); work platforms need proper edge protection and checking before use; ladders should only be used for light work of very short duration & properly secured site transport striking pedestrians (death or serious) segregate vehicles from people, use competent operators and maintained vehicles (e.g. mirrors, seat belts, brakes and roll over protection) tripping hazards (fractures of arms, legs etc) minimise the risk of tripping & falling on the level by arranging clear access routes free of waste, trailing leads etc with organised storage areas & good housekeeping collapse of excavations and damage to electrical/ gas services (death or serious injury from sudden collapse, trapping/ crushing or asphyxiation, vehicles falling in and burns/explosion) - provide adequate support for the sides as excavation progresses, provide edge protection to prevent falls into excavation and stop blocks for vehicles and assess buried services through use of service plans and cable locating tools and follow safe digging techniques using competent ground workers poor welfare facilities (respect for people) provide clean toilets, running hot and cold water with soap & towels, large basins, drinking water and somewhere warm, dry and clean to sit and eat exposure to asbestos and silica (risk of cancer and lung disease generally breathing in dust) as many buildings contain asbestos materials the client should arrange a survey to identify these before work starts and get competent persons to deal with them (a licensed contractor will usually be needed for asbestos insulation, sprayed coatings and asbestos insulating board). Cutting concrete kerbs, slabs and other such building materials can produce high levels of general dust including silica and wet control & RPE may be needed hazardous manual handling operations (back and arm injuries serious enough to prevent work) assess loads and tasks, plan to mechanise the task & use lifting aids where possible, use mechanical lifting equipment for heavy loads (e.g. blocks, lintels and kerbs) and avoid twisting electrical risks (electric shock/serious burns) use 110V (yellow) centre-tapped to earth or cordless equipment. Failing that use residual current devices - tested daily - and protect cables against wet or damage. Fire control hot work & flammable material, plan clear fire escapes and effective means of warning workers POOR PRACTICE GOOD PRACTICE Domestic scaffold Scaffold without proper guardrails (at around waist height) midrails & toeboards and any protection against falling debris (e.g. brick guards, netting) Well constructed scaffold at roof level with guardrails, toe-boards and brick guards to prevent the fall of persons & materials. Some projects may also require external netting (or even fans) to prevent fall of debris height debris protection Bombing waste material or dropping debris can risk hitting people below (note lack of fall protection too) A chute attached to the scaffold removes the temptation to bomb debris with the risk of hitting people below. Debris netting or sheeting may

2 also be needed

3 Scaffold towers Two badly erected scaffold towers with no guardrail/midrail & incomplete platform & short unsecured ladder access Scaffold tower erected by competent worker with guardrails, midrails, toeboards & properly positioned outriggers Dangerous openings Openings left in floor: on the left no guardrail edge protection & short untied access ladder and on the right no secure cover just two planks over 2.5m drop Opening with secure barriers. Ladder access not ideal but at least it is tied & good handhold. Smaller openings can be protected by barriers or by strong marked covers fixed to the floor Work by leading edges that cannot be guarded Risk of fall into building while constructing inner blockwork Leading edges that cannot be protected by guardrails while laying floor are protected by air bags to mitigate risk should a fall occur fragile roofs Dangerous work off fragile asbestos cement roof & near fragile rooflight (risk of death by falling through the fragile material) & accessed by short untied ladder Repair work to fragile rooflights from below using safe mobile elevating work platform. These can be used for external repair or removal as well

4 Good order clear access routes free of tripping hazards Untidy conditions with unsafe access because of uneven, narrow run, trip hazards and poor storage of waste Clean, tidy and well organised site kept in good order, free from obstructions with materials stored in a safe and accessible condition. Workplace transport segregation of pedestrians Telehandler caught reversing without properly maintained mirrors and proper segregation from pedestrians Safe site (separation of plant and vehicles from pedestrians & control of reversing), safe vehicles with good visibility and competent drivers Electric equipment for portable tools on sites Dangerous 240 volt electrical leads to portable equipment damage and wet conditions likely to lead to electric shock Smashed asbestos cement no proper controls for careful wet removal of whole sheets to minimise asbestos exposure & spread of contamination Asbestos containing materials work with higher risk materials such as Asbestos insulation or boarding require a licence Safer installation using 110v (centre tapped to earth) supply from special transformer commonly used on construction sites Survey needed to locate asbestos materials - here the material was asbestos insulation and a licensed contractor was required enclosure & airlocks help prevent spread of asbestos

5 Excavations Man at severe risk of death or serious injury from the collapse of unsupported trench walls (and from falls of materials, vehicles & into trench). Also aware of problems with attempts to create new basements walls can be undermined causing structural instability too Well supported trench using proprietary trench box lowered in by excavator. Measures will be needed to prevent falls of persons or vehicles into the trench depending on height of box above ground General responsibilities of clients, designers and contractors for health and safety The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 place responsibilities on developers and other nondomestic clients, their professional advisers (such as designers) and contractors they engage to carry out construction work. Key requirements concern: competence, co-operation, co-ordination and provision of preconstruction information by survey or otherwise (e.g. presence of asbestos). If the work is likely to take six weeks or more Clients need to appoint a competent CDM-coordinator and a competent principal contractor who must have adequate arrangements for managing the work of sub-contractors on site. There are also duties on anyone who controls construction work (however long that work takes) to provide safe access, prevent collapse, avoid damage to electrical & gas services, arrange safe traffic routes, plan for emergencies and take other measures to ensure safety on site. Health and safety advice Construction companies MUST have access to competent health and safety advice (The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999). There are several safety groups and consultancies that provide appropriate health and safety advice for construction companies in and around the London area. Usually their services include site visits every 2-3 weeks to advise the site manager and directors about health and safety risks. HSE cannot recommend particular companies but the trade press and health and safety magazines often contain information about such organisations. Competent site managers/site supervisors Site managers/supervisors should have adequate training to know their responsibilities for health, safety and welfare (see for example details of site manager and supervisor training at or Guidance Publication HSG150 Health and Safety in Construction (available from HSE Books price ISBN ) explains the essential tasks for achieving good health and safety on building sites. It helps to identify hazards and control risks and explains how to plan, organise and control health and safety risks on a building site and includes information on notifying HSE, risk assessments/method statements, safe work at height (including work on scaffolds), safe systems of work and protecting members of the public for a range of building works. HSE publication Managing Health and Safety in Construction L144 price 15 [ISBN ] contains The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and the supporting Approved Code of Practice. Industry advice on these Regulations is also available from the health and safety page of HSE Books can be contacted at Tel. No and their web site Several free leaflets and other guidance (including HSE s High Five leaflet and The absolutely essential health and safety Tool kit for the construction contractor IND (G) 344 ISBN ) can be found on HSE s web site (for example on asbestos, work at height, manual handling and welfare facilities). Other useful links: HSE Infoline: Working Well Together - partnership in construction to improve health and safety: How to contact HSE Construction Inspectors and Compliance Officers for advice in London You can contact the three HSE construction teams in London on Fax

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