The Constructor

Construction Safety – The First Tool for a Site Engineer

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Construction Engineer's main job is to supervise the construction operations. To manage the job, he or she would require an understanding of the main tools that a Construction Engineer needs to possess.

An organized construction company provides adequate training towards this during all phases of construction and introduces you to various tools - that help you set the priorities and manage the job.

So What are the Priorities in Construction?

When as a construction engineer- your boots are on the ground, and you start managing your work, you will need to focus on Safety, Quality, Progress, and Cost Control - preferably in that order - to successfully manage the work.

All ethical companies generally follow this in the construction sector, and the project management prefers you to drive the work in that order. You don't want to land up in a company that puts the progress and cost above safety and Quality.

In this article, I would like to pen down about 'Safety,' which is considered as the first and foremost responsibility anyone working on a project site by some top companies.

Safety first Attitude

Safety is the first and foremost responsibility of every individual on the construction site.  Unfortunately, a lot of us don't take this topic seriously until someone close to you -say -your brother gets hurt or injured, and his family faces the consequences as he becomes disabled for the rest of his life.

Quite rightly, an organized construction company's worldwide strictly follow safety protocols. They do this by making a statement in the policies and writing high-quality safety plans before commencing the construction.

Huge costs are associated with every fatality and loss time accidents in the form of compensation, penalties, material damages, and set back in progress. While safety awareness in India has increased of late, in the Middle East, safety is practiced quite regularly on large projects.

So as a construction or site engineer, you will be assigned a particular portion of work, which may be area-specific or discipline-specific, spread over the job. You will be provided with supervisors and laborers to work with- in case of direct hire jobs. You may have to supervise sub-contractors' work as many times- direct-hire workers cannot execute specialist jobs.

Companies employ Safety Managers, Engineers, and Supervisors to advise and assist the Construction Team.

As a Construction Engineer, you are in charge of your area or work. Safety, QC, Project Controls provide you the assistance to execute the job.

Construction Safety Tools

You will come across the following tools on a project site during your Safety orientation training.

  1. Safety Plan
  2. Tool Box Talk
  3. STARRT Talk
  4. Zero Accident Goal
  5. House Keeping
  6. Hazard Analysis
  7. Permits
  8. Life Safety Critical Items
  9. Emergency Response
  10. Safety Tours

Please read the Project Safety Plan, which contains the company's policy statement, responsibilities, training required, pre-task briefings, safety assessments, Emergency responses, Health requirements, environment management, and how to report safety performance indicators such as man-hours worked without loss time incident.

The project develops Management Systems for Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) protection that is compatible with ISO 14001 and OHSAS (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series) 18001 management systems.

Project Policy is written undertaking management commitments to have a workplace free from injuries, illness, and accidents and achieve minimum waste and emissions.

HSE Plan spells out clear objectives, plans to cover suppliers and sub-contractors, schedule for meetings, inspections, audits, and reports. HSE Plan also includes risks and mitigations during construction, pre-commissioning, and commissioning and startup phase of the project.

HSE management of construction includes workers' accommodation and transport.

In the EPC organization, there is one focal point for HSE for all phases of the project. This person ensures adequate resources both personnel and finances are made available to ensure the proper management of HSE and adherence.

Your first duty is to assess the hazards associated with your work. There is a specific STARRT card you need to fill and hold a talk with your team at the beginning of the Shift (Normally, Construction in the Middle East works in two shifts of 10 to 12 hours each).

STARRT is Safety Task Assessment & Risk Readiness Task, and you will are trained to use this form. It protects you legally in case of accidents, as this form is proof that you have discussed and assessed the hazards with the workers.

All workers and supervisors are required to sign this document at the beginning of the shift. Group the workers in not more than 15 numbers and perform STARRT talks. When you form small group workers, listen to you carefully.

Keep your work area nice and tidy. It's called housekeeping, and it's the key to the success of your job.

Construction engineers need to be more focused on life critical issues (e.g., working at height, critical lifts, etc.).

Any accident that causes injury to a person and makes him lose a day's work is called a lost-time accident and is a measure of safety performance on the job site.

A high number of such accident and fatality are taken very seriously by the project management and owners for obvious reasons as it reflects the company's reputation in the international market and substantial cost implications apart from the loss of life or disability of a person. 

So your goal should be to execute the work, keeping in mind 'zero accident philosophy'.

Safety engineers and supervisors are there to assist you with your work.  There are weekly assessments and safety tours by construction leads and safety managers.

As a site engineer, you have ensured that vendors, suppliers, office engineers all follow safety rules when they visit sites.

Apart from daily STARRT talks, projects perform weekly safety tours and Tool Box Talks involving all workmen, forepersons, supervisors, engineers, and management.

Safety Assessment Form

Safety Assessment Form by a Consultant or Engineers representative typically contains main points on which your workplace is assessed, and they include the following:

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