Mitigation of Risk Keeps Workers Safe
December 01 2020
According to the Health and Safety Executive fatality rates in the construction industry are unfortunately on the increase. Provisional figures highlight 40 construction workers died onsite as a result of accidents, an increase of nine since 2019. The latest figure is actually above the five-year average of 37 fatalities per year; shocking statistics considering the UK construction industry sets the standard for many others to follow. Workers’ safety is the number one concern on construction sites, yet what needs to be done to assure occupant health remains uncompromised?
The construction industry is a particularly perilous sector to work in. Falls from height, trips and slips and now the coronavirus all present their own challenges in terms of risk mitigation. Whilst accidents do happen – we are, of course only human – we should be consistently educating ourselves on the appropriate solutions that should be adopted to create safer working environments.
Secure sites are the top priority but fatal injury rate is four times higher in construction compared to all other industries. This rate is further compounded by other statistics from the Health and Safety Executive, which indicate that construction accounted for more than a third of work-related fatalities, totalling 111.
Falls from height
Falls from height remain the biggest cause of occupational fatalities in the construction industry, with the sector reporting over 4,000 major injuries to the HSE each year. Working at height is a dangerous activity, with open shafts and voids posing threats to workers’ safety. Why can’t the industry design out the voids in the first place? Effective protective measures don’t always work, if they did, we would not have any incidents.
When designing a building, it is imperative to adopt efficient design methods using safety measures which eliminate risks – such as falls – from having devastating impacts. According to the ‘General principles of prevention’ outlined in ‘CDM 2015’ Managing health and safety in construction, duty holders, including architects, structural engineers and other design consultants are instructed to avoid risk ‘where possible’. Other guidance, for instance, has clauses which indicate that risk of falls from height through unmarked and unguarded voids have to be prevented. We need to stop wasting time and effort and eliminate risk through design. No hole no risk.
What is the solution?
RiserSafe® offers a perfect example of how risk can be managed through design. It’s the only product of its kind, in that it can be tailored to safely and securely fill voids varying in size and application. In doing so, it significantly reduces the risk of falls from height and fire spread. Prefabricated and fully-cast, this innovative system’s protective properties are designed to endure a building’s lifecycle. Incorporating M&E services into its design, RiserSafe® negates the need for temporary handrails on site and logistical difficulties caused through the protection of those riser openings, as the system is designed to be flush with the floor slab.
When using RiserSafe® with a steel floor plate on top, it acts as a horizontal fire barrier on every level that it is used. For instance, if there is a 50-storey building with a RiserSafe® unit cast in at each floor, it not only reduces the risk of serious injury caused by a fall; fire cannot spread as there is a solid steel durbar, blocking its path. Once the M&E services are integrated, any gaps are filled with a fire compound at the appropriate levels required – which has been tested in combination with Ambar Kelly system to give two-hour horizontal fire protection which was confirmed through evidence-based fire tested at BRE fire hall.
When it comes to assuring workers’ safety on construction sites, avoiding risk ‘where possible’ just doesn’t cut the mustard. Reactive, temporary measures to eliminating risk – such as handrails – are no substitute for proactive alternatives that can be designed into the building’s earliest stages. Taking a holistic approach to building design is a better route to eliminate risk. A solution like that of RiserSafe® forms and seals the riser shaft in one action meaning that as there is no hole, there is very little risk.
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