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Introduction to Safety in Construction

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This first class primarily will be an introduction class.
(Refer Slide Time: 00:28)
Then let us see how safety is seen as a concept in the construction industry. So, a lot of
posters you would have seen these days in any construction site and few of the posters which
clicked my attention I have copied here just to share an idea as to say what safety is all about.
So, there is no particular order I will go in a random sequence. Safety is as simple as ABC.
So, ABC stands for Always Be Careful.
So, with this poster, it is very simpler to understand what is safety. So, the only way in a
construction site is a safety is a full-time job whether it is day or night and it is better to
protect yourself and your co-workers because your actions may hurt anyone or even the
equipment and rather than know just putting somebody into risk better to correct a friend. So,
safety whether it is an accident, whether it is big or small, avoid all of the accidents. Like this
you would have seen a lot of posters. There is no substitute for safety, work safe.So, safety first make your workplace safe then before starting your job. So, all these you
would have seen “No safety, no pain” and few of them which are very critical are “Safety
protects people and quality protects jobs”. Always safety and quality travels together. If there
is time availability, I will talk about quality productivity also in the due course of time. So,
safety talks about caring of people and the workers along with the construction progress.
So, safety is primarily a state of fully conscious mind, and accident generally happens with an
unconscious mind or in an absent state of mind. So, better to be alert every time when you are
working on a construction site, then you can say it is not a very big task to do, it is actually
simpler and easier. But there are some things which does not let safety to be achieved in
construction practice that you will learn at the end of this course.
(Refer Slide Time: 02:51)
So, with this introduction, I would like to talk about what is safety. So, these days
construction projects are all very complex, challenging, innovative and there is nothing like
nowadays every contractor wants to bid internationally and get international projects. So,
because it is really possible with the digital world which is existing even in construction sites.
So, safety, it looks very similar with all these posters.
So, is safety really a tough subject? So, the first question that can come to your mind, seeing
all the marvels of the recent projects, which are happening these days. For example, metro
construction, airports and other infrastructure projects, it is looking very astonishing to see
projects getting completed in a very massive scale and so on. But, if you look at other issues, there is some negative issue going on as a result of accidents happening which is catching the
attention of media personnel.
And claims, compensation which is creating a friction between the owner and contractor. So,
all these are really happening. So, let us know more technically on what is the safety all
about. Again, so, what safety is all about? So, very simpler definition search for hazards,
analyze the risk, find the cause, eliminate the cause, tell others that you are safe. This is the
safety poster which I clicked from one of the construction sites which caught my attention.
(Refer Slide Time: 04:26)
So, let us talk about why in construction we are not able to achieve a safe environment
compared to other sectors. For example, safety is a major concern in every sector, like
aerospace or manufacturing side or anything else. But why in construction, it is so fuzzy and
why in construction, it is not achieved even till date. There are so many factors which are
unique factors as regard to construction projects alone.
And let us discuss few of them as such let us talk about the projects. So, most of these
projects are unique. For example, if you do your manufacturing of a car, the same model of
the car you may be manufacturing repeatedly. So, you know what are the hazards, you know
what is the sequence of not complicating too much, you know what safety precaution will suit
you best and so on.
The construction projects are unique. So, what happens is the learning you get in one project,
you may not be able to apply maybe in the next 4 or 5 projects at least and that knowledge and experience that you got in the learning of one project you may apply maybe after 5 or 10
projects only, that does not happen in other sectors and construction projects are always very
diverse, you have so many engineers starting from architects, structural engineers, MEP
engineers.
Then your consultants, vendor suppliers, so, many people come in and play their role. So, it is
actually meeting different minds and at the same time getting the work progress done and at
the same time, having a safe environment in place is quite challenging. And as a result,
projects are most often multidisciplinary. Sites - most of the sites are dynamic as I told you,
the projects are unique and hence sites are also dynamic.
For example, if you look at metro construction or maybe a tunnel construction or maybe even
pipeline projects, you start in destination A and after a few weeks or months you may be in
some other place as destination B. So, projects are dynamic as a result your soil conditions
vary, your environmental situations vary, you are the constraints with regard to traffic and
other all circumstances start changing and they are very dynamic from day to day.
And what about a stationed project wherein, we call it as a stationary project and only in one
particular location the project is happening and most of these sites if you see are all very
congested you get a very short space alongside your to be built structure and in that you have
to plan and keep all your materials, your storage places and also station your workers and
keep them there for the construction work.
So, what happens is when you are handling too many things and it is very congested site then
where to and how to maintain safety, that is a very big question mark in many of the
construction sites. The current trend in projects is primarily a sub contracting way of
execution, most of the contractors for several reasons, maybe for want of completing the
project earlier or maybe for want of specialized people to do the particular small portion of
work. The contractors that bid the project, get the project awarded.
And then they break it down into smaller modules and outsource it to some subcontractors
who have the expertise, equipment, skills, knowledge, the basic technology and they bring in
the complete energy into the project. So, there is a good thing about it, but the one
disadvantage here is this crew, the subcontracted crew are all new to the entire project work zone and different crews are there and as a result, you may have to give adequate space for
them to put up their equipment or the sequence of works.
And one contracting group should not be disturbing or interfering with another
subcontracting group. So, all these happens and these contractors, they all have a lot of
seasonal and migrant workers who come in and go for their own routine jobs, who are not
permanent workers registered in any construction company. So, as a result, what happens
there is a constant changing co-worker relationship.
Today I may be working with some other crew and later on for want of job, for want of
money, I may move on to another subcontracting group with a different co-worker and so on.
As a result, what is the problem with the co-workers, as a result, every situation for you is
new. You do not know whom to report to in case of any danger you have seen at the site, you
do not know whom to ask for help.
You do not know whom to ask for any issues with regard to the construction work progress
and so on. So, like this, there are some challenges and most of these risks are very, very
specific to your construction, workplace and environment. So let me summarize this. We are
improving on safety. Every construction site wants to be safe these days. Because right now,
projects which are handled with the no accidents are all regarded are all rewarded and
regarded as best projects.
So, every project site is taking care of maintaining safety and norms. But still hazards keep
coming because projects are always challenging or innovative in nature. So, new hazards
keep coming and thereby workers are exposed to several unknown hazards and risks each
time of the day. So, exposure to these different hazards and danger can cause illness or injury
or even a death.
So, the toll of construction accidents is still keeping on increasing and the other part is the
projects are also challenging and innovative on one side and on the other side, accidents may
or may not happen, but if you start allocating a budget on safety and try to promote safety,
that budget is actually spent. So, that is one of the reasons why employers try to compromise
and try to put down the budget as low as possible on safety compared to promoting safety in
construction sites. That we will talk about cost part in the next week.(Refer Slide Time: 11:33)
So, now, let us talk about different terminologies that we have seen in today's class especially
with the introduction so far. So, all these terms start with a common terminology called
incident. So, what is an incident? Incident is nothing but anything that happened
unexpectedly. For example, there may be a lot of material lying on the floor where the
workers are passing by, they would have been passing by that area maybe for 10, 15 times at
least.
Suddenly, one worker was about to slip and fall, that is primarily called incident wherein you
do not expect that to happen, but it has happened. Even in day to day life, you may have seen
several examples like this, you may have taken a glass of milk and it was about to fall. So,
that is primarily called as an incident. And when this incident creates no impact, then it is
primarily called a near miss.
Maybe in the worksite, the worker did not fall nor he got hurt himself nor he pushed down to
some other worker and made him hurt. So, nothing happened no impact as such. So, that is
primarily called a near miss, even in the same everyday example, I can tell you, the glass did
not break, not the milk did not spill, nothing happened, you could grab the attention and keep
the milk back in same place.
So, that is primarily called as near miss. Now, what are these near misses? These near misses
are actually called as inexpensive wake up calls. So, something bad is going to happen
tomorrow. So, you have to be alert that something is not good in a particular direction. Maybe you change the cup size, so that the milk is not feeling hot or the heat of the milk on
to the cup, maybe you change to another material as such or you do not pour too much of hot
milk.
So, something is warning to the person in charge that there is a hazard happening and you are
so lucky that nothing happened this particular round. Now, you can also see some immediate
impact. So, any incident will trigger either no impact or there can be a visible impact. Now,
let us go with the most unexpected impact to the least impact. So, the most unexpected
impact maybe the worker fell.
And it was a hole or an opening close by. He fell down from nth floor and he fell off and he
got died. That is primarily the least impact which construction site should not be attempting
for. The other from the less serious impact let us move in that direction. The next one is
major injury in interchangeably it is also spelt as accident. So, what is an accident? Maybe
you get paralyzed or paralysis again, there are so many ways of paralysis.
As seen in this picture, either one side paralysis or complete body except the head paralysis
like this there are so many medical terms available or either you get hurt very seriously that
you either lose your hands or legs or any part of your limb or you become deaf or something
like that. So, these are all part of examples of a major injury. Minor injury, maybe you get a
fracture or a contusion or there may be a swelling in your organs.
So, something like that and where you will get recovered and then you are back to work. This
is colloquially expressed as injury also. So, as such you have fatality as a first from the more
severe impact, then major injury or an accident, minor injury or interchangeably it is also
called injury and the other one is near miss. Then first aid cases are also there. First aid cases
are not even visible in any construction site.
First aid cases, you go to the first aid center and get treated within 1 day or 2 days maximum,
you return back to work. So, they are not that serious in any construction sites. And the other
one is a slow impact, there can be hazards which can create slow impact onto the workers.
So, slow impact for example, if you work continuously in concrete or you are handling
cement, maybe you do not even wear a proper glove or something and then you start handling
cement.After some point of time, you may see lot of know cement dermatitis, that is primarily called
cement semen dermatitis and these are all will not happen just in 1 day or 2 days, it happens
maybe for several years down the line, maybe 3 to 5 years or some impact can even happen
10 years later on. So, these are all called as health issues. So, now, if you look at incident
impacts, this is not triggered with an incident, but I am just categorizing everything together.
So, incident has either no impact which is called near miss, for immediate impact, you have a
minor injury, major injury and fatality and a slow hazard impact we call it as a health issues
and if you look at the history of safety, which we will discuss a little later. So, in the history
of safety, so far people were worried about only the visible impacts, whatever we call it as a
minor injury or a major injury and fatality that was what was really seen by these
construction group.
So, they were treating lot of safety programs policies, etc. most often were focused only for
safety issues in construction, these health issues started becoming a very big serious concern
in construction sites, maybe from 2000 onwards only. Otherwise, safety was a long-time
phenomenon, it was going on in many construction sites.
But right now, every policy or program also addresses health issues in it. So, safety and
health are not like 2 different aspects. Safety and health nowadays go together in construction
sites.
(Refer Slide Time: 18:17)So, now, let us talk about the definitions. So, what is safety? Safety is always defined as an
absence of a danger or a state of protection. So, then few of the terminology which we have
seen in the previous slide, number 1 is incident. So, any incident is an unplanned or
unwanted, unexpected, unfortunate, whatever you want you can keep, which disrupts the
work progress and may cause an injury or damage.
So, based on the impact, one is near miss, incidents where no property was damaged, no
personal injury sustained, but given a slight change in time or position, damage or injury
easily could have occurred and did not happen this round because of the luck factor. Now,
there are some things which has come in the definition. So, if you look at safety, most of the
focus on safety is only on personal injury in the sense only on the workers injury.
But safety as such talks about it has to take care of equipment materials in the site,
equipments available in the site and also on the personnel which implies workers on the site
and other human beings on the site. So, but if you see, it just so happens colloquially, most of
the safety norms and policies are primarily are towards workers, well being in the sites only.
Then next is accident. The National Safety Council defines an accident as undesired event
that results in personal injury, loss of business opportunity or even a property damage. Loss
of business opportunity in the sense maybe you lose 1 hand or 1 leg and you may not be fit
enough to continue on some particular jobs and you may have restrictions in certain jobs that
is finally referred as loss of business opportunity.
And the other one is property damage or maybe your structure, which you have partially
considered would have got damaged or maybe equipment damage it can be anything. So,
accident is nothing but some people write this as equation also, it is nothing but incident plus
consequences, in reality, all construction accidents are result of negligence and they are
needless.
They need not happen because of so, many issues, we will talk about that later and they can
be easily avoidable provided you follow proper safety rules. First of all, you should know
what are the hazards and you should know what are the safety precautions for the same and
do not hesitate to follow all the safety precautions, then all accidents can be avoided. Even if accidents happen in spite of all these because it is considered as unplanned, unwanted,
unfortunate and so on.
Still the impact can be at least minimized, maybe a hammer fell on a worker’s head, he did
not wear a proper PPE, then it could have been a very serious injury to the worker compared
to if he had a hardhat, it may be a slight head injury for the same worker. So, your impact on
the accident can be really minimized. The next one is in injury. Injury can be any cut,
fracture, sprain, etc. And not only an accident, a near miss and even an incident should all be
investigated if you want to focus on zero accidents in construction site.
(Refer Slide Time: 21:59)
So, this is primarily on safety permit. Now, if you talk about all these issues, so, these near
misses, minor injury or major injury or fatality all happens as a result of some incident. So,
that we have discussed in the previous class and this incident is of two issues, one is unsafe
act, other one is unsafe conditions. So, now, if you see here in many of the construction site,
as I told you, there may be 1 fatality or 2 fatality can happen in a construction site these days.
That is what statistics talks about major injuries in a normal construction site, we are not
talking about complicated projects or complex projects and the regular construction site
maximum 1 or 2 fatality happens these days. And if you look at major injury, there may be at
least 30 to 40 of major injury as against 300 at least of minor injuries or near misses can be
even to a lakh.This is what is some of the thumb rule which happens these days in many of the construction
sites. But if you see, is it really easy to document everything? It is not that easy to document
all these issues which happens in the construction site, most probably the fatality goes into
documentation, major injury goes into documentation. So, the visible iceberg. So, this can be
compared to an iceberg.
So, if you see an iceberg, only the portion which is visible is very small compared to the
iceberg which actually lies below the sea level. So, the ‘n’ lot of known the hazards which is
still available in construction sites all goes documented, there could have been minor injury,
near misses, whatever it is, but since it is not documented, they are all hidden. So, there can
be chances of anything that can happen, if your luck is not in your favour.
So, the documented issues and which people always take care of is your fatality under major
injury. Now, let us talk about this unsafe acts and conditions. So, what are these unsafe acts
and unsafe conditions? Unsafe acts are primarily related to workers or human beings. Unsafe
condition is maybe you wanted to do some substations in a hilly terrain or maybe some
transmission lines in a hilly terrain, you cannot change the situation at all.
Hilly terrains have little more dangers. And these are primarily referred as unsafe conditions.
So, what happens is so far, many of the people in construction, they think the safety is
actually not emphasized or we are not able to bring to zero accidents in construction site
because of the dangers in the unsafe conditions. But a lot of statistics were taken up in related
to how the accidents happen, how many accidents were happened, what were the real reasons
and so on.
And when it was completely analyzed, it was found 2% of all these accidents were acts of
god which implies, acts of god refer to your cyclones, heavy rainfall or maybe tsunami or
earthquake. All these are primarily referred as acts of god, fire is a manmade disaster and not
a natural disaster. So, acts of god can be anything related to natural disaster. So, 2% of
accidents are related to natural disasters.
And 98% of all these incidents which are happening in sites are can be prevented and they are
preventable. And if you still go and zoom into the 98% of that 10% of these causes are due to
unsafe conditions, which you cannot avoid or maybe you can take efforts to safeguard your site that is possible, but you may have to spend money on that. And 88% of these accidents or
incidents that happen in construction sites are primarily related to unsafe acts which implies
to workers.
That is primarily a human tendency, maybe first time when you are crossing the road after
you are grown up you will be very hesitant to cross a road, seeing the traffic on either sides
and this and that and then you take so much time to cross a road. After you are used to
crossing the road for several times then you know the hazard coming in. So, you cross the
road even when traffic is moving on, that is primarily a human tendency.
So, what happens is most of these accidents which happens in construction sites, once the
workers are very comfortable with what they are doing, they start doing it without even
respecting the safety policies and norms. So, that is where 88% of these accidents happen.
Now, what are these injuries which has to be reported or recorded so that it acts as a lesson
for future projects to come.
So, actually one mistake you do you should have learning from that mistake. So, what all has
to be reported, any death obviously has to be reported, the reason for death why it happened,
where it happened, what really happened, what did the worker did not do? What precautions
did the management not take? So, all these has to be reported, any accident which happens in
the site, which implies your major injury has to be reported for sure.
Minor injury yes, if possible and if you have a system in place wherein you can record all
your minor injuries, yes, it also has to be reported. First aid cases, yes, including near misses
also has to be reported if you want to have a complete packed zero accidents in construction
site, near misses and first aid cases even though there are too many happening every day. But
still there should be a policy of reporting and documenting everything and which should be I
was just learning lesson to all the workers. The last but not the least, health issues also have
to be reported these days.
(Refer Slide Time: 28:37)Now, let us talk about unsafe acts and conditions. And these are the two terms which has
come, unsafe conditions, if you see this particular places is too hazardous and dangerous, no
proper place for the workers to even stand and put up their settings and even safety
precautions also, there is hardly any provision for safety precaution also to happen in this
particular picture. Here also you cannot avoid working on these scaffolds and climbing up
and doing all your construction progress work. So, this is finally an unsafe condition, but
there could have been a provision for safeguarding the environment.
(Refer Slide Time: 29:22)
The next is unsafe acts. Unsafe acts are primarily ignorance of any safety role. For example,
in this first photograph, the workers are not even wearing a property PPE, not even a proper
safety cloth or even a shoe or a hat for working in a construction site and if you see this
picture safety net is only to safeguard a worker or any equipment or anything which falls down and in this particular picture, it is actually used us as like a dustbin to store all the
unwanted materials.
(Refer Slide Time: 30:03)
So, what is this unsafe act and unsafe conditions? Unsafe act it is an activity that is not done
according to the safety standards, that is primarily called unsafe act. Examples can be failure
to wear PPE that is a number one unsafe act in construction site. Ignoring the tools defects
maybe today you were operating some equipment it did not work, you do not even take any
precautions in reporting it to the management.
And still, you try to operate and try to complete your work or you do not know how to
operate an equipment and you mess up with the functioning of the equipment. All these are
examples of unsafe acts. Violation of health and safety rules, you have to wear all your PPEs
like your shoes, your hard hats, gloves and then only work, you have to work accordingly
only.
Even though if you are not comfortable you should not be removing the PPEs and then start
working in a construction site. The next is unsafe conditions, hazards that may cause injury
property damage or death primarily is called as an unsafe condition. Examples can be
congested workplaces as I shown in the earlier photographs, dangerous soil conditions you
would have done so many tests on the soil profile and you would have got a very clear report
on what is the soil type, the status and so on.And then when you start doing your work there could have been settlement, unexpected
settlement or maybe your equipment could have sunk into the soil when you are placing the
equipment. So, soil is always dangerous and a real mystery in a construction site, which can
pose a lot of threats and dangers. Excessive noise in the construction site that is also an
unsafe condition, you are working in a very big construction site.
And you are not operating any equipment or something but all around you, you have so many
equipments which produce a lot of noise and there are a lot of equipments which produce
noise above the permissible decibel levels. So, when you are in the midst of so many
equipments and obviously your mind will not be at peace and concentrating on safety. So,
this is an example for unsafe conditions.