An important part of any construction project is that health and safety risks are managed as far as practicable, and that there are no accidents or injuries that have a negative impact on people’s lives.
Working Practises and conditions in the past, and the impact that has had on people and their families, are no longer considered acceptable by the community.
In my opinion the following three items are essential for effective management of health and safety:
1. All people involved in a project are aware of their responsibilities
2. All people are aware of how to manage their responsibilities, or if not, where to find the appropriate support and guidance.
3. A culture of clear and prompt communication on any health and safety issues.
My approach to health and safety is guided by these principles. If these are done well then it can not only help with health and safety, but also to create a more harmonious worksite and achieve better project outcomes.
Legislation regarding health and safety with construction projects is in Tasmania is provided by the Workplace Health and Safety Act & Regulations, 2012 (the Act & Regulations).
The Act and Regulations specify health and safety responsibilities of all parties involved in a construction project, including designers (which includes engineers), builders (including owner builders), sub-contractors and clients (owners).
Safe Design Process
The Act and Regulations require that health and safety is actively managed and risks minimised in the design for a construction project.
The first step in this process is to identify health and safety risks that may be present on the existing site. Before commencing work on a project, I ask that a client informs me or their Building Designer / Architect if there are any known issues with a property that could affect health, safety and quality of the project. Issues that could affect health and safety include asbestos and contaminated soils. Issues that could affect quality could be known structural faults with an existing building or fill on the property.
During the structural design process, design options that unnecessarily increase health and safety risk during construction, occupancy, maintenance and demolition are avoided. This may require communication between the engineer, building designer, architect, builder and / or client as required.
Another aspect of my safe design process is provision of the design safety report. This, and ongoing communication between myself and the other relevant parties helps to keep health and safety risks to an acceptable level. Health and Safety Risks are inherent in construction work however, and cannot be fully designed out, and so still require active management during construction.
Design Safety Reports
One responsibility of designers under the WHS Act and Regulations, is that the designers provide a design safety report to the client. Where relevant I provide this Design Safety Report as part of my service. The report can be adapted to be for the structural design only, or include the full building design and siteworks.
My Design Safety Reports provide the following information to assist with health and safety management on your project:
- Overview of the responsibilities of the builders and client, and where to get more information.
- Health and Safety risks associated with this particular site and design that are considered more prominent in comparison with typical residential construction.
In most cases my reports do not include a long list of hazards that may or may not be encountered during the construction project. This is the responsibility of the builder(s) to identify and manage, and various guidelines and codes of Practice exist to provide suitable guidance for this.