MANAGING SAFETY IN A HIGH-RISE

High-rise buildings are the current trend in construction nowadays because of its convenience, advantages, architectural design, grade and luxury. Not known to many, it has many safety risks for occupancy. Mr. Nguyen Phu Hoi made a case study which mainly focused in safety aspects to come up with the solutions on how to control risk and to prevent accidents as much as possible as well as to foresee/handle emergencies/contingencies during the construction duration.

The most frequent problems/accidents related to safety in high-rise construction often include:

  1. Ladders
  2. Falling Debris
  3. Falling From Heights
  4. Electrical shock & Machinery
  5. Trips and Slips
  6. Crane and hoist operation

Due to time and resources constraints, Mr. Hoi’s study focused only in the following objectives:

  1. To study SMS (Safety Management System) at a high-rise construction project in Vietnam
  2. To study safety risk in construction of high-rise building in Vietnam
  3. To analyze strength, weakness and propose recommendations for improvement of safety in high-rise construction in Vietnam

Conclusion

Throughout the core basis of safety literature and actual high-rise tower now under construction, the main important issues can be summarized as below:

(1) Summary of Safety Management System (SMS)     

The SMS is a must for every construction project, especially for high-rise construction because this area is consisting of many latent hazard and risk. Without SMS, the owners, developers, investors, shareholders, and managers cannot reach the goal and target as expected. On the other hand, the contractors, suppliers, installers, and workers cannot fulfill and complete their mission.

In overall, without SMS, the construction of a high-rise will become very dangerous and the casualty/damage cannot be prevented. The SMS must be set up and strictly implemented and it should comprise of the main frames:

  • Safety Policy
  • Safety Organization
  • Safety Plan & Program
  • Hazard & Risk analysis and identification
  • Safety Documenting & Recording
  • Safety Review & Upgrading

In addition, high-rise construction project should also have strong and powerful PM/CM team who will monitor, control, and handle the safety matters (e.g. review and approval of safety plan/program submitted by the contractors and sub-contractors). It is also their duty to strictly implement these safety plans which normally and basically include the following:

  • Safety management/hierarchy/organization
  • PPE availability, use and condition
  • Scaffolding (fixed and mobile) including ladders & platforms
  • Electro-mechanical activities and controls
  • Site status
  • Temporary power supply and tools
  • Health & welfares
  • Storage condition
  • Fire prevention
  • Waste/pollution control
  • Monitoring and control of working on height
  • Aid/first aid and evacuation
  • Emergency plan for unanticipated circumstances

It is recommended that for bid and high-rise construction project, the owner should seek and hire a professional project management team usually PMC companies (project management consultancy), as the project & construction manager and their representative as well. The PM/CN then will be enthusiastically and heartily dedicated to the multi-goal completion of a high-rise construction project: schedule reached, within budget, quality achieved and also well perform the high safety requirements/demands.

The PM/CM as the owner representative should have strong and effective ways to force all contractors and their subs at site to totally and absolutely comply with safety rules. It is necessarily to cleverly apply the method of fine and reward to guarantee the safe situation at site workplace.

(2) Summary of Hazard/Risk Identification:

This is the most important portion of every specific SMS especially for high-rise project. Depending on the specific condition and particular situation, the PM/CM should:

(i) Thoroughly analyze all aspect of the project: geographical, structure, sub-water, vicinity, surrounding inhabitants

(ii) Far-seeing and fore-seeing for all possible causes/reasons may lead to hazard/risk

(iii) Focusing in the most would-be hazard/risk of high-rise construction: fall/falling, trip/slip, fire, electrical shocking/flashing, tower crane/hoist, lift/elevator, scaffolding, PPE

(iv) Periodically and frequently (weekly/bi-weekly) conduct site-safety check carefully and thoroughly. The same for site-safety audit

(v) Evaluation the site-safety check/audit and requires improvements

(vi) Always available for an emergency plan to cope with an unanticipated circumstance (drill of evacuation…)

(vii) Always keep best relationship for availability of a hot-contact with nearest local authorities and utilities

(viii) Frequently review, analyze and search for other possible hazards and identification of its risks

(3) Strength & Weakness of the actual SMS at Pullman Saigon Center project

Strength:

Strong and powerful: the PM/CM monitor, control and force the contactors & their subs to execute the safety rules.

Standardized & professional: the safety rules & items based on the advanced standards /norms of site-safety and implemented by a long-history PMC like Turner.

Sufficient: the SMS and its rules/items comprising the most frequent issues in high-rise construction

Weakness:

Lack of identification of hazard/risk from some potential possibilities such as: glass wall, lift, sub-water, overhead power line

No considering on the role of 3rd safety party for audit/verification

Only involving the actions in construction phase.

No mentioning the other phase: commissi-oning and delivery

No mentioning on safety training, especially for induction training

Take much time much, paper for meeting and inspection so the time schedule may be impacted.

(4) Suggestions & Recommendations

Build-up a comprehensive safety plan and extensive safety programs: the plan should involve all factors that possibly cause risks and hazards of unsafe conditions.

Strictly abiding and complying with local code and governmental regulations and stipulations.

Build and maintain very good relationship with local authorities and utilities.

Pay special attention on the geographical, geological, environmental, hydro-geological characteristics of the area, to foresee/ anticipate suitable counter measures and actions.

PLAN – DO – CHECK – ACT: strictly and thoroughly executing the established safety plan/program; frequently review and improve for better outcomes.

NO COMPROMISE on safety especially in high -rise construction.

Ready for safety egress in site for rescue and emergency exit

Emergency Action Plan: ready for reaction plan/scenarios to any unexpected circumstance/contingency; prepare plan, scenarios and evacuation method for readiness and coping with even the worst case might be happened: fire, collapse, seismic, terrorism

Periodically organize training, re-training for emergency drill/rehearsal and contingency scenarios of evacuation.

Check and review design for specific items which may cause risk of un-safety by professional 3rd party.

NO SMOKING at construction site: so no hazard and no risk for fire occurrence. Of course we should strictly control and monitor all possible causes and reasons may lead to fire and explosive from materials and chemicals and from interaction among themselves.

Increasing safety awareness: although we have rules, notices, regulations, fine sufficiently but the hazard/risk/accident are still be possible to occur. In order to avoid and prevent more and more the possibility of hazard, risk and accident, the awareness/ perception on safety in high-rise construction of every involved people must be increased and enhanced.

This can be got by education level of every worker, person participated on site. This can be increased by frequently training/re-training them on safety subject by various type: oriented safety, 15-minute tool-box meeting every morning, safety inspection daily, weekly safety audit, safety signs/ panel/billboards/notice on site, safety lunch for every 100,000 safe-working hours.

Motivation and incentives: similar to job and wage, performance and bonus; safety in high-rise construction needs to have encoura-gement to the people who are good examples for well-performed of safety on site. There are various ways/forms to enhance and support safety goal: safety lunch, safety lottery, safety award to the best-performed worker, bonus, pay-rise, promotion etc.

More attention – less occurrence: the more attention on safety the less accident and problems occurred.

Strengthen functions of employers and supervisors: employers and supervisors must ensure compliance with the provisions of the OHSA and its regulations. Key requirements for employers include:

(a) Employer

(i) instruct, inform and supervise workers to protect their health and safety

(ii) appoint competent persons as supervisors

(iii) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker

(iv) prepare and review at least annually a written occupational health and safety policy, and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy if the workplace has six or more full-time employees

(v) post a copy of the occupational health and safety policy in the workplace, where workers will be most likely to see it

(b) Supervisors

(i) ensure workers work in compliance with protective devices, measures and procedures required by the act and regulations

(ii) ensure workers use or wear any equipment, protective device or clothing required by the employer

(iii) advise workers of any potential or actual health or safety dangers known by the supervisor

(iv) if required, provide workers with written instructions on the measures and procedures to be taken for the workers’ protection

(v) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers

* Frequently carry out preventing methods /measures for safety:

* Periodically check and verify crane/hoist by 3rd independent parties.

* Frequently training and certificating operators

* Review and amendment/adjusting safety plan/program from safety audits

Frequently TRAINING on safety to all workers. Make sure them always to keep in mind that safety does not depend on luck or destiny but it depends on themselves.

His thesis abstract is copied and pasted below.

Abstract of Safety into Construction

Construction is indispensable for the growing up of any country and cities. The more development of society/community, the more projects are going on. Construction industry brings up the new picture of country/city; attracts investors to come in and provides more jobs/incomes to people/community; especially for the under-developing countries.

However, construction industry is one of the most dangerous/risky economic sectors. In Vietnam, in the year 2011, official reports recorded that 5896 accidents occurred in construction led 6154 injuries included 504 severe cases with 574 deaths.  Note that 2011 is the year which construction was depressing nationwide due to the problems of high inflation and high interest rate. Further a certain accident amount was not put in the above official report.

Accident cases from machines/tools always being a major percentage but deaths are mainly by falling and electric shocks. In most cases, the control of safety management at sites is not strictly, frequently slacken while the owner and contractors only focusing on completion schedule and profits; insufficient interest to safety for people on sites. Another part is from the lack of understandings/perception on safety of the workers themselves.

Everyone is aware on the important of safety, everyone is told about the preciousness of human being and many losses comes from the accidents; but casualties still be recorded. How to find out and apply an effective manner to minimize and – may be – eliminate all unsafe conditions and possible causes /risks of the would-be hazards?

Construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, incurring more occupational fatalities than any other sector .In 2009, the fatal occupational injury rate among construction workers in the United States was nearly three times that for all workers.

Falls are one of the most common causes of fatal and non-fatal injuries among construction workers. Proper safety equipment such as harnesses and guardrails and procedures such as securing ladders and inspecting scaffolding can curtail the risk of occupational injuries in the construction industry.

Due to the fact that accidents may have disastrous consequences for employees as well as organizations, it is of utmost importance to ensure health and safety of workers and compliance with HSE construction requirements.

Health and safety legislation in the construction industry involves many rules and regulations. For example, the role of the Construction Design Management (CDM) Coordinator as a requirement has been aimed at improving health and safety on-site.

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