A Guide To Civil Engineering Health and Safety

Health and safety is important across the construction sector, and civil engineering health and safety is part of that. Accident rates have been falling in recent years, due partly to changes in health and safety legislation and best working practices, and partly due to advances in technology which has resulted in safer equipment and better personal protective equipment.

civil engineering health and safety

Why do I need to consider civil engineering health and safety?

Every year there are still around 50 fatal accidents and around 30,000 new occupational disease cases are reported. Around 2.3 million working days are lost on an annual basis due to work-related accidents and ill health.

Civil engineering health and safety is particularly important because civil engineering presents some additional hazards that the rest of the construction sector does not face.

What specific civil engineering health and safety considerations need to be made?

There are a number of activities that are specific to the civil engineering sector, and as well as covering the general hazards, a civil engineering health and safety plan needs to take these additional hazardous activities into account. These hazardous activities include:

  • Working at height
  • Working at depth, including tunnelling
  • Work over water
  • The use of extremely heavy machinery
  • The use of explosives

How do you develop a civil engineering health and safety plan?

As with any health and safety plan, the basic approach for developing a civil engineering health and safety plan is to:

  • Identify the hazards that your business faces
  • Eliminate those hazards if possible
  • Minimise the potential impact of those hazards if it is not possible to eliminate them completely

Elimination of a hazard could be achieved by a change in work procedures, but it is not always possible to eliminate a hazard. If you are building a bridge, often that will mean working over water, for instance.

Where a hazard cannot be eliminated, minimising the impact of the hazard will include both reducing the chance of an accident occuring as well as reducing the potential impact should an accident occur.

Developing a civil engineering health and safety plan will involve some site surveys, but it is about a lot more than walking around a construction site with a clipboard. A lot of the work will be office based, analysing working procedures and best practices.

As well as an overall civil engineering health and safety plan, there may also be a need to develop specific health and safety plans for specific activities or projects, such as the use of explosives or the construction of a tunnel.

Who is responsible for civil engineering health and safety?

Every business should have a Health and Safety Policy, and that will nominate the person with overall responsibility for health and safety. It may also name certain individuals with day to day responsibility for specific areas of health and safety.

Even though there will be specific people named in the health and safety policy, health and safety is the responsibility of everyone, including:

  • The board of directors
  • Site supervisors and managers
  • The workforce
  • Any subcontractors
  • Any visitors to the construction site

All of these people are responsible for their own health and safety as well as the health and safety of others.

image source: flickr

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