4.2.1 Obtain and Evaluate Relevant Information
Before the planning of any operation can be carried out information will need to be obtained relevant to that operation.
This will come from a number of sources including:
Information does not just come from documents but also from knowledge of the work involved and the situation in which it will be carried out. With regard to ensuring that the work is carried out in a safe manner a thorough investigation must be carried out to assess hazards and risks.
Identification of hazards
A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm. Hazards take many forms and could be presented by, for example, a chemical, substance or component and its storage, the movement of plant or vehicles, an operation and the equipment being used, the location of the operation on the site and the bi-product or waste it produces, the use and storage of fuel or a power source.
Hazard identification begins at the design stage of a project when it is possible to eliminate or control hazards by changing the project design, the specification, the system of transportation or the principal construction processes. Once in the construction phase, hazard identification will be the first step in the risk assessment procedure. The identification process will utilise information from different sources in conjunction with the experience of management and workers.
Hazards can be identified by a desk top study of the site, project and operations or by observation during a tour of the site. Consultation with the workforce and consideration of accident and incident investigations or ill-health records can also reveal potential hazards. Official Health & Safety Guidance and industry best practice guides are further useful sources of information. Whilst hazards vary from site to site a standard checklist (Appendix 5.1, page 79 of ‘Introduction to Health and Safety in Construction’, see references) can help with the process. This suggests that hazards are associated with the following:
Whenever conducting a site inspection to identify hazards it is important to differentiate between hazards and unsafe conditions; examples could be unsafe access, unguarded machinery, plant encroachment into pedestrian routes etc. Conditions such as these should be corrected immediately and not await the conclusion of a risk assessment.
4.2.2 Production of Appropriate Documents
A number of documents will need to be produced before any work on site is carried out. The two that we will look at in this section relate to assessing the risk (Risk Assessment) and in the method of how the work will be carried out (Method Statement).
A risk is defined as the likelihood of harm being caused by an identified hazard. It is important to recognise that the risk identification and assessment process not only considers the likelihood of harm happening but also takes into account the severity of its consequences. The outcome quantifies the level of risk presented by a hazard.
As part of the risk assessment process the employer must evaluate the level of risk presented by each hazard and develop risk control measures that reduce the risks to a manageable level. When considering the adequacy of these controls, a hierarchy of risk controls should be considered. These are:
Schedule 1 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, specifies the general principles of prevention that were set out by European Council Directive. There are 9 principles that must be used to identify and implement precautions necessary to control risks and should be considered in conjunction with the hierarchy of risk control. The principles include adapting work to the individual, replacing the dangerous by the non-dangerous and giving collective protective measures priority over individual protective measures. There are some people who may be more ‘at risk’ and who require additional consideration when assessing the risks and control measures. These include:
For a risk assessment to be ‘suitable and sufficient’ only the significant hazards and conclusions, including risk control measures need to be recorded. The prioritization of the implementation of risk control measures will depend on whether the risk rating is high, medium or low and whether they involve complex or simple solutions.
Method statements and/or safe systems of work that describe the safe manner of completing an activity or task will incorporate the identified control measures.
Periodically it will be necessary to review these control measures to ensure they are understood, are still working or if they need strengthening for example by the addition of a permit system. A change in site conditions, new legislation or changes in the workforce may also warrant a review of risk controls.
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 impose the following duties in relation to risk control:
The purpose of a risk assessment is to determine the measures that must be taken to comply with the law. The Act of Parliament and some of the relevant regulations that lay down a duty to carry out risk assessments are identified in the text. Further details on the duty and the specific actions entailed can be gained through the references at the foot of the unit. The practical purpose of a risk assessment is to ensure the health and safety of all persons at work and any others who may be affected by the works or the activities involved. The process is divided into six elements; hazard identification, persons at risk, evaluation of risk level, risk control measures, recording the findings and reviewing when necessary.
The process of evaluating health and safety risks involves the consideration of two aspects; the possibility of harm happening (likelihood) and the level of harm that could be caused (severity). By looking at the two aspects separately it is possible to determine the overall effect of any control measures and to identify the level of risk that remains (residual risk) even with the control measures in place. In other words the initial assessment enables a consideration of whether a control measure reduces the chance of harm happening or whether it reduces the degree of harm that could be caused or whether it reduces both. Having taken account of the reduction effects of the control measures the results will indicate the level of residual risk to be dealt with.
Hierarchy of Risk Control
Effecting proper risk control requires the systematic application of each consideration in the hierarchy of risk controls, found in official Health & Safety Guidance HSG65. In accordance with this hierarchy, the first consideration must be the total elimination of the risk. If this is not possible then is it possible to substitute the activity or process or object causing the hazard with one that presents a lesser hazard. The order of consideration is:
Principles of Prevention
It is a legal requirement that the systematic approach indicated by the hierarchy of risk control is conducted in conjunction with a consideration of the Principles of Prevention specified by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. These are a collection of principles, not a hierarchy that should be applied to ensure the effective management of identified risks. The principles of prevention are:
Falls from Height
Working at height is defined as any place of work from where the distance a person falls would be such to cause personal injury. The Work at Height Regulations 2004 require the application of a three stage hierarchy when considering works to be undertaken at height. The stages are avoidance of working at height, prevention of falls and mitigation of the effect of falls. Risk control considerations, which incorporate this hierarchy, will include:
Slips, Trips and Falls
Slips, trips and falls at the same level as where work is being undertaken are the most common hazard that pedestrians face at work and the biggest cause of reported injuries. Older workers, especially women are the most severely injured from slips, trips and falls and should be considered at greatest risk. Risk control considerations will include:
Falling and Moving Objects
These hazards are the greatest cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Risk control considerations include:
Manual handling describes the movement of loads by human effort and includes their transportation, lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, as amended 2002, require a series of actions by employers which include avoidance of manual handling, assessment of risk and individual capability and making proper use of any safe systems of work. Risk control considerations include:
Health risks can arise from the use of hazardous substances or materials, the uncovering of contaminated ground or pollutants and working in dangerous environments. The endangering particles are transported by dusts, gases, vapours, liquids or touch. Risk control considerations include:
A power source can present risks to health and safety by the means in which it is transmitted (overhead and underground cables, pipelines, mains, conduits etc), by the way it is connected to equipment/machinery or by the way the equipment/machinery is used and maintained. It is necessary therefore to separately consider the risks associated with national power sources (eg transported by the national grid) and the power sources that independently fuel work equipment and machinery.
Transmission pipelines and cables carrying gas and electricity represent the principal hazards to construction workers. They vary from National grid lines using high pressure/high voltage, to regional lines of medium pressure/medium voltage to local lines of low pressure/ low voltage but all have the potential to cause severe, even fatal injuries. Any work in the vicinity of such apparatus should be controlled by the official Health & Safety Guidance HSG 47.
Construction work equipment and machinery can be powered by:
There are a series of regulations that set out requirements to ensure equipment and machinery is properly manufactured and supplied and can be safely used and maintained. The accompanying Codes of Practice include information on possible hazards and risks and control measures to ensure safe use. They set out requirements on inspection, maintenance, examination and testing of equipment as well as information and training for operators. In particular they require operators to be informed of the particular health and safety aspects associated with different equipment, its limitations, foreseeable problems and the safe methods of dealing with those problems.
Risk control considerations
Collapsing and Overturning
Temporary structures, mobile work equipment, plant and vehicles can collapse or overturn on construction sites for various reasons. These include:
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to provide a safe working environment and safe systems of work. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires a proper assessment of hazards and risks and the Construction (Design and Management ) Regulations 2007 set out clear requirements for safe places of work, the stability of structures, safety of excavations, installation of traffic routes and the movement of vehicles on site. These requirements stipulate the need for proper planning, management and control of all site activities and conditions. The risk identification and assessment process is an integral part. Risk control considerations include:
A confined space is any space of an enclosed nature such that it has restricted ventilation and restricted access/egress. Examples include manholes, excavations, sewers, tanks, pits, chambers and wells. Their restricted access/egress can result in entrapment and the restricted ventilation can lead to the build-up of vapours and gases. The other hazards associated with confined spaces include:
A risk assessment carried out by a competent person is a mandatory requirement and, in accordance with the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997, will form the basis of the required safe system of work and emergency arrangements. The risk control considerations should include:
Entering and working in confined spaces is an extremely hazardous activity that requires special arrangements and precautions as well as specialist training and equipment. All should be managed through the implementation of a permit-to-work.
The main emphasis of fire safety law is on fire prevention. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 imposes a duty to carry out fire risk assessments that should consider the safety of employees and others who may be affected. It also imposes specific duties regarding the fire precautions to be taken. These include:
In order for a fire to start, three things are needed -fuel, ignition source and oxygen. On construction sites these can be present in the following forms:
Risk control considerations should include:
An overview of the above processes relating to Risk Assessment & Hazard Identification can be found in the multimedia presentation of the same name in the multi-media box below.
A Method Statement is a detailed schedule that considers alternative proposals and makes recommendations on how a task is to be carried out and the resources that will be needed. It considers time, costs and technique for each method of carrying out the work and the resources necessary to perform the major activities in the project.
Prior to the programme being drawn up it is essential to know the following:
When assessing a job it is probable that there will be a number of options for how it can be carried out. The production of a method statement can enable each option to be assessed prior to deciding on the most appropriate method.
The method statement is best produced at the earliest opportunity as it is used to guide everyone within the contracting firm regarding the method and sequence of construction.
To produce the method statement, the construction work is broken down into operations, and the labour and plant requirements are then estimated by those responsible i.e. plant by the plant manager.
The production of the method statement must consider the contract documents i.e. drawings, specification, Bill of Quantities. If the contract is handed over in stages the method statement will include this.
Once the method statement has been produced it should be adhered to with no deviations without official permission.
The work that is to be done by the contractor and any nominated sub-contractors should be shown on the Statement and it is normal for any sub-contractors to produce a method statement for their work package as these will detail the safety aspects of the work.
Producing a Method Statement
In order to produce a method statement the following Procedure can be used:
Having obtained the above information this can be transferred onto the Method Statement. A number of forms can be used and the one below is used as an example.
Filling in the Method Statement
An overview can be seen of the method statement by watching the video "Method Statements" in the media box. A method statement template is included at the end of this section.
4.2.3 Maintaining Notices and Warning Signs
The site manager is responsible for ensuring that all notices relating to H&S are provided and that all relevant warnings signs are displayed: These will include:
Some health and safety regulations require notices to be displayed in work premises and construction sites. These include:
Some notices are posted to warn people of unsafe conditions, plant or equipment. Examples include:
The requirements for safety signs on construction sites are covered by the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 and the accompanying industry guidance INDG 184. Essentially they require safety signs to be in place whenever a risk has not been controlled by other means. The need for warnings or information to address a residual risk will have been determined by a risk assessment carried out in accordance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Safety signs come in different colours and shapes and must include a pictorial symbol. Words may be added to supplement the warning but cannot be the principal means of passing information. Safety signs have several purposes:
Ensuring notices and warnings are displayed and kept up to date
When safety signs and notices are in place they should be checked regularly to ensure that they are:
You have now completed this section of Unit 4. You may now move on to the next Section by clicking on the ‘L4-4.3 Maintain Health, Safety and Welfare on Site’ link below.
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