Construction Industry is a highly accident-prone industry. The construction industry has several special features, which affect the safety and health of workers compared to those in a regular manufacturing and other industries.
In construction industry, the character of the work along with the risk profiles change very quickly along with the progress of the work. For instance, the risk of construction in ground floor will be less compared to the same work on the fourth and or upper floors. The temporary nature of work causes temporary arrangements for electricity, water supply etc. The site is open to environment access and pathways are slippery and gangways are without proper handrails.
Further the construction industry is characterized by high labour turnover. Workers move from one site to another. Those with rural back ground are put on site without any safety training or safety precautions. It is hard to find construction workers wearing hard hats, helmets, shoes or gloves to protect themselves. As a habit, workers do not use any safety gear at all. Hence they become most vulnerable to accidents.
Accidents in construction industry are about three times more than that in manufacturing or other industries. The most common accident on a construction site is the fall of a person from heights. These factors caused by the temporary nature of the job create a high risk environment. Roof construction, repair and other maintenance operations often require manual labour at dangerous heights and on steeply pitched working surfaces. The possibility of lost footing, decreased stability and objects falling from such heights is often more.
Further the constriction firms have the habit of sub-contracting the work for profit. Smaller firms do not adhere to the safety rules because they work on low profit margin. Competitive tendering with undue emphasis on lowest rate encourages cutting costs which generally adversely affects enforcement of safety norms. Loss of money, manpower and progress of work occur whenever scaffolding fails, a roof collapses or a fatal accident takes place at site.
Many builders know that once a worker loses his life in an accident at site, the morale of the working force sinks and the spirit to work is lost. The progress of work never picks up. Despite this realization, safety aspect is often ignored.
The general causes and approximate percentages of these accidents in a construction site are mentioned in the following table:
|Fall of Person from height||50|
|Fall of materials on persons||10|
|Electricity shock etc.,||5|
|Underground excavation, well sinking, earth caving in etc.,||5|
|Miscellaneous (drowning under water, collapse of building etc.,)||15|
There are a number of requirements regarding safety measures to be implemented in the construction industry. These include safety standards by Bureau of Indian Standards, statutory provisions framed under different labour laws, decisions given by judiciary and contract conditions agreed with the employer.
- National Building Code has given a number of safety provisions for construction sites.
- National Institute for Construction Management and Research (NICMAR) provides specific details for various hazardous activities in the site.In some instances overlapping stipulations exist to ensure safety. Appropriate employee safeguards normally should be present. Employees involved in roof construction, repair or maintenance operations shall use appropriate personal protective equipment including, but not limited to, hard hats/helmets, eye protection, safety belts and leather gloves.
Employees shall not be involved in construction, repair, or maintenance operations on roofs during the periods of high winds, lightening storms, or other potentially hazardous weather conditions. The safety initiative for a construction site is an output of the safety policy which should include safe working condition for workmen, safe operation procedure for machines such as mixers and vibrators, compliance with various safety rules, adequate training of workmen, timely attention to problems noticed on matters related to safety, in case of accidents, proper action and quick imposition of proper measures to avoid repetition.
The Safety measures adopted should result in the following specific advantages:
- Reduction of accidents causing injury or loss of life.
- Reduction in accidents causing damage to property.
- Reduction in ailments to workers from health related hazards.
- Identification and mitigation of risk.
- Imparting training to create safety awareness.
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