As anyone who works in the construction industry knows, ensuring safety on site is a top priority. Working at height, operating heavy machinery and shifting physical surroundings, all in the midst of large numbers of people, can quickly and easily create dangerous situations.
Thankfully, Health and Safety (H&S) standards in the construction industry worldwide have, on average, greatly improved over time. As the World Economic Forum say, “Contractors are not only obliged to provide statistical proof of acceptable safety performance, but also programmes and processes that promote the safety of every worker in their care. This prerequisite for a safety culture has allowed the industry to change from injury management to injury prevention and the creation of “zero incidents” goals,” (weforum.org). Despite this, approaches to safety still vary drastically from country to country.
Specifically, it is the remit of the Construction Project Manager (CPM) or H&S Manager to uphold H&S building regulations onsite, although the wider contractor’s reputation is on the line too. Therefore, it’s crucial that as a Project Manager, you understand your duty as a proactive H&S manager and how to ensure regulations are met at all times.
Construction safety initiatives around the world
The global construction industry as a whole is prospering right now and the UK is no exception. As part of the Budget for 2018/19, chancellor Philip Hammond announced a government investment of £44bn to meet the target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the next decade, which will only mean more construction projects up and down the country.
As such, UK-based construction companies are taking an active role in improving the already high health and safety standards within the sector. For example, the UK arm of multinational construction and development company Skanska are making increasing use of data to try and predict potentially hazardous situations before they arise. Throughout the company’s nine business divisions, data from accident and near-miss reports, inspections and audits is being cross-referenced in an attempt to spot any risk patterns or trends, so that health and safety can be made better across the board.
In Dongguan, China, construction firm Country Garden Holdings are using advanced fingerprint and facial recognition to ensure only those who have H&S clearance can access their sites. A digital air quality monitoring system also constantly displays the levels of potentially harmful particulate matter in the site’s environment to increase worker safety.
Wearable technology is also helping to improve safety standards for an increasing number of construction firms around the world. Sensors fitted in workers’ helmets and wristbands can record how they work on-site and interact with their surroundings. This type of technology, part of a wider trend towards the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), can instantly alert Construction Project Managers to any risk to workers’ physical safety or breaches to safety procedures, and generates a continuous stream of data that allows for further H&S analysis.
How developing technology is helping to boost construction site safety
As well as on-site safety initiatives like the ones above, thinking about health and safety at the planning stage of construction projects is key to mitigating hazards. Technology can help Construction Project Managers to identify latent dangers long before anyone actually sets foot onsite, and help keep a project within budget.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is an evolving technology that’s set to revolutionise the entire construction industry, not least in terms of H&S building regulations. BIM uses shared datasets to digitally map complex sites with incredible accuracy, creating simulations that Project Managers can use for risk assessments and to explore for potential hazards, without any risk to anyone in the process. International consultancy and construction firm Mace make extensive use of BIM. During its work on a north London construction project, Mace ‘rehearsed’ the installation of the building’s external façade, virtually running through the exercise of lifting and fitting structural elements to spot and minimise any risks.
Drones can also be used in this way. Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones can transmit clear images from the highest points of a site, inside unstable, potentially unsafe restoration projects and can even be first onsite in the event of a fire, giving invaluable insight into maintaining the highest possible standards of safety on site. Once a project is underway, drones can also be used to quickly patrol a site, ensuring H&S regulations are being followed by everyone at work. Balfour Beatty is just one major construction company using drones; the firm employed drones to undertake routine safety inspections of bridges in West Sussex, keeping disruption to a minimum during surveys.
Learning a lifelong habit of construction health and safety
During the eight week module you’ll gain a solid foundation of knowledge that will allow you to confidently identify hazards and instruct on risk management processes. By the end of the module, you’ll be up to speed with Health & Safety legislation and the many responsibilities a Construction Project Manager faces in terms of Health & Safety, from moral, legal, social and financial perspectives. In combination with other safety-focused modules on the course, such as Legal Rights and Responsibilities and Managing Construction Projects, this module can make sure your transition into construction project management is backed by an in-depth awareness of the highest standards of Health & Safety building regulations.
For more information about what you could learn with this extensive online course, fill in our online form.