– By Mr. Manoj Yadhav

Today due to rapid growth in urban population, and space constraints, many Multi Storeyed constructions are coming up. We not only have to complete the construction in a stipulated time, and give quality construction but also look after safety of our workplace and workmen.

According to a survey by Government, there are around 30000 minor or major accidents every year at construction sites in India. Looking to high volume of construction industry, these numbers of accidents are not very significant. But still, with a little awareness, care, and a little training, these accidents can largely be prevented, and minimized. In construction industry hazards are new everyday, as the job process is not set. Accidents are also due to migrant and illiterate labour, who is part of any construction site.

In construction industry, training of engineers, supervisors and labour, in safety rules is of great importance. Also we have to set certain rules invariably to be followed by all, sort of mandatory. Since most of the labour is illiterate, regular hammering on safety issues will lead to awareness. At least once a week, instructions be repeated to labour and also to supervisors, so as to bring culture of safe working.

The most important aspect is management’s commitment towards safety. Normally in construction industry we see safety offices is appointed and issue forgotten. The owners and senior staff are the main persons who often break the rules. They should themselves, sincerely and with responsibility follow all the rules, which will have a great impact on workmen.

The main hazard while constructing multistoried building is in working at height. Shuttering work needs to be designed properly and erected rigidly. It should have sufficient spaces within to allow safe passage to workmen working under. And basically we have to see that whenever a workman is working at height (2m & above) he wears a safety belt and ties it properly to some permanent building members, or rigid scaffolding which can take his weight if he falls.

Also when work on height is going on, the area should be barricaded with red tapes having sign of danger, and every one instructed about the barricaded part.

The other thing, which we have to look into, is housekeeping. In construction, housekeeping does not mean sweeping everything on site. It means “A place for everything and everything at its place.” Normally what happens is when we receive the material on site it is stacked in proper way, but during use and after use it is just scattered on the site and not arranged properly and the reason we get for not arranging it properly is “we are going to use again”, but we do not realise that everyone has to work here and someone may fall down after hitting the material which can lead to severe accidents. Also protruding nails in shuttering materials are not removed properly, there is every chance that someone walking may just walk at that level or over it and nail will have his head or his foot, as the case maybe. Wearing of helmets and safety shoes (having steel plate in sole and steel bracket to guard toe) will greatly reduce risk.

Scaffoldings are a major thing for construction of high rise buildings as it has much usage, but once a scaffold is erected and during using it do we really check it? Whether it has proper access whether scaffold is erected on firm ground level and also the bracings and working platform. If we check the above points scaffold can be safe to use. Otherwise we can imagine the situation in case scaffolding falls, or tilts.

Different machines are used for construction purpose e.g. Concrete Pumps, Cranes, JCB, Poclain, Concrete Mixers, Dumpers, Vibrators, Cutters etc. For machines, we must follow the safety requirements as per manufacturer’s manual. Also some common points like whenever a crane or JCB, Poclain is at work no one should stand in swing area of machine and if possible it can be barricaded. Machinery having moving parts can be covered with effective guards. Ensure that hand brakes work and are effective. Driver must carry valid driving licence.

To reduce pollution and difficulty of storing fuel in bulk, more and more electrical machinery is used. Electrical safety is also of great importance as all electrical installations are temporary. There is general tendency of not using plugs and people give 2-3 connections from single socket. Also fuse wire is not used as per specification because the electrical board is overloaded and the fuse trips every time now and then. Also electrical cables should be joined properly and only certified electrician should work on electrical installations. Cables, used for construction work must invariably be shielded and doubly insulated.

There is every chance of fire on site as we have to use and store materials like wood, cloth, and fuels at site. Supervisors can be given training in use of fire extinguishers, other fire fighting equipment, which has to be maintained in efficient working order. Storage of sufficient quantity of water will greatly help in reducing fire damage.

The following points are of great importance:

  • Barricade all excavations, floor openings, pile openings.
  • Do not allow children on site. Provide separate play area for them if they are there. Having crèche on site will not only solve this problem but also will serve to social cause.
  • Make a plan for emergency with duties and responsibility of key persons, who can be given emergency- switches, connected to hooter.
  • Plan critical activities in advance.
  • Before starting any activity ensure everyone knows what is to be done.
  • Various activity checklists to be followed during construction.
  • Location for store, Yards, Godowns should be properly located.
  • Regular and meaningful training to staff as well as workmen.
  • Do not provide loose electric connections. Also provide electric sockets at corner (out of way) at same height, out of reach of children and other labour working in the vicinity.
  • Maintain proper First-Aid kit on site. Supervisor must be trained in giving construction First-Aid. Tie up with ambulance, which should be available on call.

Safety can be achieved with only teamwork and not otherwise. Everyone must be aware of safety arrangements and equiped to use it.

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