Staying Safe During Building Work


Construction is statistically the most dangerous industry in Singapore.  Those who work on a construction site day in and day out can be reasonably expected to have an understanding of the safety risks around them and to have undergone basic health and safety training. However, the risk factor must rise exponentially when the construction work is taking place in an environment where other people are trying to live their lives and go about their daily business.

New Safety Legislation

There has been a major focus in recent weeks on keeping birds and wildlife safe and preventing them from being inadvertently injured by our modern constructions. This is certainly an important factor, and if you have builders undertaking work at your home or office location, you need to place safety at the top of your agenda. Failure to do so means you are putting far more than the local wildlife in danger - you can also place yourself, the contractors, and even your own workforce or family at risk. In a workplace environment, you could, in addition, be in danger of breaching new legislation that is being enforced to improve the country’s track record in construction safety.

Risk assessment

So what do you need to do? Perhaps unsurprisingly, this very much depends on the nature of work that is taking place. Before any work begins, it is essential that you sit down with your contractors, and make sure a documented risk assessment is undertaken. This will ask a multitude of questions, including, but not limited to, the following:

·         What locations or zones will be affected by the work?

·         Will people need to be in close proximity to the construction area? If so who?

·         To what risks will these people be exposed?

·         What special instructions, warnings or training will they need?

·         What safety signage will be necessary?

·         Will the usual fire safety/emergency evacuation procedures need to be modified?

·         Are other approvals needed?

Signage

Safety signs should be prominently displayed whenever there is a significant risk to health and safety. This might be the health and safety of passers-by, workers or customers. Signs like these generally fall into four broad categories:

·         Prohibitions – for example, “no entry”

·         Hazards – for example, “toxic material”

·         Directions – for example, “emergency exit”

·         Safeguards – for example, “hard hat area”

It is important to avoid using excessive and unnecessary signage, as this can just lead to confusion.

Taking responsibility

It is only too easy to say that construction safety is all down to the contractors. But by taking at least your share of ownership, you can be sure that safety is given the priority it needs. And that can only be good news for everyone.

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