How to build safely

Civil construction projects have their own hazards, and awareness about precautions to be taken is crucial. By M.A. Siraj

August 02, 2019 05:35 pm | Updated 05:35 pm IST

Silhouette of engineer and construction team working safely

Silhouette of engineer and construction team working safely

T he construction sector employs nearly 28 million workers. Since the sector employs workers who are generally untrained and migrant from rural areas, they tend to work in any worksite totally unaware of the hazards and safety measures. Mega-size civil constructions employ large workforce who may face severe hazards at the worksite. Developers and builders are required to be aware of the hazards as well as the safety measures. Taking cognisance of the hazards, the National Building Code as well as the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1996 {BOCW (RECS) Act} have laid down conditions to ensure safety of workers as well as safeguards against damage during construction.

Most of the hazards faced in civil construction sites owe themselves to height of structures, large span of construction, movement of construction equipment, storage of combustible material (wooden planks, poles), temporary electrical installations, storage of large quantity of fuels such as diesel and inadequate fire protection during the construction.

Projects such as construction of high-rise structures, bridges with large spans, metro railway, dams, harbours, tunnels and shafts, and land reclamation work are where these hazards may lurk. Major risks include collapse of side excavations, fall of excavated material, collapse of adjacent buildings, flooding by underground water or accidental burst of stored explosives.

According to T.K. Chandrasekaran, Risk Management and Engineering Consultant (who was speaking at the Institution of Engineers on Wednesday, July 31), builders need to be aware of rules while putting up scaffoldings and should employ only trained persons. These need to be provided with guard rails and should be inspected every seven days for tightness of joints, alignments, adequacy of bracings etc. Inspection should be carried out after heavy rains too.

Steel erections should not be done in unsuitable weather condition, there should be safe access to reach heights, and workers should be provided and advised to use personal protective equipment.

Safety committee

The BOCW Act provides for setting up a safety committee in every site where 500 or more workers are employed and it should meet regularly to monitor the implementation of safety rules. Information of the work site and details should be displayed on boards with registration particulars.

Fire extinguishers should be installed at the site and water hydrants or sumps should be installed at very prominent locations for fire brigades to have easy and immediate access. It also calls for lift shafts to be barricaded with meshed frames of steel and welding work to be carried out only by trained workers.

The inspection staff should carry a safety checklist and should regularly visit storages where building material is kept, fuel storages and fabrication yard. Prior knowledge should be obtained regarding underground cables, and tests should be conducted for the nature of soil, moisture content and vibration (if the sites is adjacent to highways, roads or railway or quarries).

Contractors All Risks (CAR) Insurance is ideal for such projects as it is jointly taken out by both contractor and employer and has the option of even financing companies being included therein.

Section 2 of the CAR covers the third party liability to the owners of neighbouring property in the event of collapse of their boundary walls or damage due to falling of construction debris.

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