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The hazards in the construction industry can be divided into two broad categories:

  • Onsite, operations-oriented hazards
  • Offsite, process-related hazards

In this blog, which is an excerpt from the whitepaper, Best Practices for Safety Management in the Construction Industry, we will talk about the offsite risks.

In addition to the hazards caused by the actual construction activity, the processes around construction can also pose certain risks and need to be addressed. These include:

Change Management

It is often seen in the construction industry that the initial drawings undergo multiple iterations even after the work has started. This will have an impact on the workflow as well as the health and safety of the workers. Often, the safety aspect may get neglected due to time and cost constraints.

Prevention Mechanism: The organization must make sure that there is an impact assessment done for every change and the necessary controls put in place. This should be integrated with effective change management and finally change management communication to avoid incidents.

Incomplete Drawings

The second risk that prevails in this industry is incomplete drawings. Most of the drawings are drawn from an architect’s point. A construction project has two kinds of drawings that guide the project. One is the structural design and the other is MEP which covers the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design. Often the contractors are not involved in this process and are merely handed the designs for execution. When executing the project, this can lead to a lack of coordination between the design team and the actual on-ground team. As a result, any inconsistency in the way the diagrams have been drawn may go unnoticed till an event happens due to a gap in understanding the requirement.

Prevention Mechanism: It is important to properly hand over the architectural diagrams, or, even better, to involve the project manager at the design stage so that they are able to execute it safely and properly. Any inconsistency or incompleteness can be identified early and rectified without having to compromise the safety of the contractor.

Labor Shortages/Turnover

Labor shortages and turnover affect the construction industry deeply due to its heavy dependence on external contractors. Mostly, these contractors are not tied to the organization and are hired on a project basis. The workers often tend to leave after a certain period of time or they’re too fatigued to carry out the work. Labor unions may also start strikes for the flimsiest of reasons. These can impact the execution of the project and ultimately affect health and safety as there is no time to train them enough, tell them about the control measures, and instill the culture of the organization.

Prevention Mechanism: Labor resource management must be planned well in advance with a contract that clearly enunciates the roles and responsibilities of each worker, hazards associated with the task, and the control and mitigation measures that are in place. Train them to sensitize them and educate them about what can go wrong and how the organization is ensuring their safety. Finally, it should also clarify how the workers will be compensated in case of any incident.

Profits Over Safety

Given the nature of the work, a lot of variables are involved in a construction project, including raw material costs, and labor costs. As this is dependent on the economy, inflation, and other such factors, some organizations may ignore ethical practices and the health and safety practices in favor of the bottom line.

Prevention Mechanism: The organization needs to create systems and procedures that strengthen the health and safety of its workers without compromising on profits with commitment from the top management.

Bribery

A lot of large-scale projects begin with official tenders but may finally be granted to a known contractor for money or on the recommendation of an influencer. In such cases, health and safety and ethical practices may be sidelined to give way to cost issues.

Prevention Mechanism: Putting in place systems and processes and increasing the transparency of the bidding process will minimize the impact of bribery and corruption. Organizations should give equal importance to profits as well as the health and safety of the laborers onsite as well.

ComplianceQuest’s cloud-based health and safety management system helps reduce risks as well as affects continuous improvement. It is also integrated with the CQ EQMS, which can help with audit and inspection management.

To know more about how CQ EHS can make your construction business safer and compliant, request a demo: https://www.compliancequest.com/online-demo/

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