The management and awareness of safety and health issues has progressed enormously in the construction sector in the past 18 years
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The management and awareness of safety and health issues has progressed enormously in the construction sector in the past 18 years.

Employers and workers have invested time and money to drive improvements, endeavoring to ensure all workers can work safely on construction projects in Ireland.

No other sector can compare with this level of focus


As an example of this commitment, up to 107,481 workers completed the SOLAS Safe Pass Programme in 2018 alone – no other industry sector in Ireland can compare with this level of focus.

A total of 10,600 extra workers joined the construction workforce in 2018, up eight per cent year on year and bringing the total workforce to 145,500.

This was on the basis of €26 billion investment in building and construction in Ireland during 2018, up 20 per cent year on year. With investment in the industry expected to reach €41 billion in 2023, we will see more workers enter the construction industry, some of which will be inexperienced in construction.

This will bring about challenges in terms of skills and competence (i.e. knowledge, experience and training) and in terms of supervision. Experienced construction workers have a responsibility to mentor new entrants or those returning to the sector, particularly in terms of ensuring their safety and wellbeing.

Construction Safety Week is an opportunity to reflect on aspects of safety, health and overall well being and to promote its importance throughout the workforce.

It is recommended to review past activities and to learn from successes, failures and near misses. By sharing experiences, we may eliminate avoidable accidents, enhance worker morale and increase productivity.

Safety is number one in Jones Engineering


Jones Engineering has long held safety as their No 1 value. Priorities can change, values do not.

Having an ethos which starts from a very human place has allowed them to develop procedures which build in a continuous cycle of improvement.

Nothing is more important than each individual’s wellbeing, whether that is staff, clients or specialist subcontractors. It takes precedence over all other aspects of any work project.

John Pollock chatting with JEG apprentices.

This has allowed a culture of cooperation over competition to develop in the company. On projects Jones Engineering engage with their clients and direct competitors to ensure that there is only one EHS standard on site. This eliminates double standards and misconceptions.

Jones Engineering continually drive, promote and maintain the physical, mental and social wellbeing of all employees and everyone is empowered through their pro-active safety culture. For the team at Jones, safety is not just a standard, it’s a frame of mind.

CIF Construction Safety Week is an opportunity to reflect on all aspects of health and safety and to promote its importance throughout the industry.

It provides a platform to share best practices and to work together to strengthen the industry’s safety culture. The CIF Safety and Health Sub Committee to the Executive Body identified five key topics which are recommended to focus on during Construction Safety Week.

These are Mental Health and Wellbeing in Construction, Working Safely with Electricity, Working Safely at Height, Vehicle Risk & Safety in Lifting Operations and Working Safely with Hazardous Substances.

Just like in previous years, Jones Engineering will be holding themed toolbox talks and events on many of their sites throughout the country over the course of the week.

For example, they have booked the company Theatre at work to perform the workshop Fallout on a number of sites to promote Working Safely at Heights.

Through live interaction and facilitated discussion this workshop focuses on choices and the influence of planning and contractor dynamics on risk awareness and safe practices.

It also allows participants to examine their own role in influencing a culture of safety through effective safety conversations. Other examples of events Jones have planned include Behaviour Based Safety Programmes and demonstrations.

While CIF Construction Safety Week shines an important spotlight on safety, Jones ensure they maintain this focus all year round.

Some of the events they have held already this year include talks from the RSA and the Garda Traffic Corp as well as their annual corporate safety seminar which featured Kay Baxter from Health & Safety Authority and Gerry Duffy, a professional speaker in Personal Development, Goal Motivation and Leadership.

It’s easy to see why their commitment leads to safety awards on sites across the globe. With almost 130 years in business, a safety track record like Jones Engineering’s doesn’t happen by accident.

Hilti Safeset Technology – The safest anchoring solution


The traditional way to install chemical anchors is to inject the adhesive into a prepared, dust-free hole and then install an anchor rod through some form of baseplate.

Once the resin hardens, the fixing is complete. The process imparts no stress into the base material during installation, so is the ideal solution for multiple fixes that have to be located close together or near edges.

Its only downside is that the quality of the bond relies heavily on the preparation of the hole in the base material – the hole must be completely cleaned of drill dust.

Depending on the type of resin used, this ‘blow-brush-blow’ process for hole cleaning usually needs to be repeated twice; and for some resins, suppliers require repeating it up to four times.

This effort-intensive process not only doubles the time it takes to install each anchor, but exposes the installer to dust particles.

If holes are not prepared properly, the load capacity of the fixing will be drastically reduced. Concern that such anchors could fail at less than design load has led designers to take a conservative approach by either over-specifying the design loads or adding redundant fixings to account for the possible loss in capacity.

The good news for designers with concerns about the installation of chemical anchors is that Hilti, after many years of research and testing, has developed a solution, the CE-marked HIT-HY 200 SAFEset system, which is designed to reduce potential errors during the installation of chemical anchors.

Using Hilti SafeSet Technology installation methods with the HIT-HY 200 eliminates the need for manual hole cleaning. Hilti’s TE-CD and TE-YD hollow drill bits used in conjunction with Hilti’s vacuum system removes dust when drilling, while the revolutionary cone-shaped helix Hilti HIT-Z anchor rod eliminates cleaning altogether.

The SafeSet Technology solutions also improve the working environment by reducing airborne silica dust while helping to ensure proper installation every time.

Design out risk with EC2-4 & Hilti’s Profis Engineering


For the first time in the history of fastener design, the design provisions have been published in an official European Standard and not in Guidelines. EC2-4 elevates fastenings to a similar importance as the concrete structure itself.

The safety concept for anchors is now directly embedded into the general global safety concepts for structural design within the Eurocodes and specifically in the structural design for reinforced structural concrete.

One of the changes includes a sustained safety factor for adhesive anchors in tension, which is an important element as it considers the creep behaviour of the fastener.

As the new EC2-4 standard states: “…assumes that the anchor plate does not deform under the design actions. To ensure the validity of this assumption the anchor plate shall be sufficiently stiff”.

But how do we know if our base plate is sufficiently stiff? Are prying forces, due the flexible nature of the plate, being taken into account when completing an anchor design? If not, well it should be to ensure an anchor design complies with EC2-4.

The Design of fastenings fully compliant with Eurocode 1992-4 is now possible only with Profis Engineering Software.

The software enables engineers to input the parameters of their project and treat a base plate as flexible (realistic) rather than rigid to understand the precise nature of stresses upon the different elements of a steel-to-concrete connection.

This means that designs can be reworked virtually at the click of a button, maximising the efficiency of both the process and the finished product. It also completes a full calculation on the profile and stiffeners, the welds and the concrete under the plate.

Safety first at Ardmac


Our safety culture emanates from our first guiding principle of Safety first. We constantly strive to ensure that safety in Ardmac remains much more than an organisational priority but is embedded among all who work for Ardmac.

For us, safety is viewed not as a priority but a value, while our priorities may change, our values will stay the same, our goal is to eliminate injuries at our workplaces and to enhance people’s lives, both at work and at home, through embedding positive attitudes and beliefs to safety.

To achieve our goals, to constantly gain that extra improvement, to be the very best we can, we know we must continuously seek to improve, to innovate and to foster ownership and the leadership of safety at all levels within the organisation, from our CEO to our on-site teams and to the operatives on our sites.

In order to ensure we continue to learn and develop, Ardmac have implemented our Safety First programme which takes an innovative approach to the management of safety and the development of our safety culture.

Safety First combines process and procedural controls to ensure highly detailed task planning, effective training, coordination and engagement with our innovative Safety First Conversation, an advanced conversational technique, designed to ensure the effective engagement of workers in an open non-judgmental and friendly way that promotes and fosters trust, honesty, respect, and collaboration.

The conversation takes place between our operational staff and site operatives at task locations as part of daily task SPA (Safe Plan of Action) reviews, with the aim of reinforcing safe behaviours while understanding detailed task insights from the operatives perspective including any challenges, issues or suggestions for improvement that may or may not be related to that specific activity, thereby facilitating continuous improvement and ultimately to the development of and compliance to effective safe systems of work.

A real benefit and testament to the success of our Safety First initiative has been the development of people at all levels of the organisation, there is a much more visibly engaged workforce, who are keen to become involved and talk about safety, happy to make suggestions, secure in the knowledge that their opinion counts and will be heard.

Organisational improvement and learning are ensured though the sharing of conversational learnings at project meetings and on a wider organisational level through use of our digital construction collaboration tools.

Our Safety First programme is supplemented with monthly safety campaigns, organised under Seasons of Safety for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter to ensure ongoing embedding of our Safety First value throughout the organisation.

Another key innovation in Ardmac has been the adoption of mobile digital technology for the management of all our projects.

Our digital construction collaboration system provides mobile access to and the efficient transfer of live information, enabling everyone, including our supply chain, access the information they need, wherever they happen to be, allowing data driven decisions and ensuring seamless communication from field to office and to our supply chain.

Groundforce: Driving continual improvement


Groundforce has teamed up with Construction Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (CSPAC) to take part in their Construction Safety Week initiative.

The purpose of the Safety Week is to “continue to highlight the issues of health and safety in the Irish construction industry and to drive continual improvement” according to the CSPAC.

The CSPAC go on to say: “Good health and safety depend on co-operation between all parties on a project – from client to designers and contractors – everyone’s safety depends on their co-workers or the person working beside you or above you.

“The mission for this week is to refocus on health and safety and it’s a call to action for companies of all sizes to run a safety event this week.”

Safety in construction is central to Groundforce’s business. Being involved in Construction Safety Week enables Groundforce to promote safety and health throughout the sector particularly in the area of excavation support.

Eliminating avoidable accidents and educating the workforce on various shoring options available are key drivers in Groundforce’s commitment to safety.

As part of the Safety Week, which takes place from October 21-25, 2019, Groundforce is offering a series of complimentary one-hour workshops aimed at those working in utilities, construction and civil engineering.

The primary course objective is an Appreciation of Excavation Safety and provides delegates with an awareness of working around excavations and managing excavation work including:
• Understanding legislation
• Recognising when and why excavation support should be employed
• Good and bad practices
• Ground/soil types
• Risk Assessments, Permits and Temporary Works Designs

Joe Lenihan, Groundforce Ireland general manager said: “Safety standards in the Irish Construction sector have taken many positive steps in recent years and this needs to be celebrated.

“We are delighted to be involved with this year’s Construction Safety week and hope to make a positive contribution in highlighting the often overlooked area of excavation safety.”

Please see: https://www.vpgroundforce.com/ire/shoring-equipment/ireland-safety-week-workshops/

Accident prevention: The same old story


A person wants to lose weight. They try a diet but do not see results. They try a different diet and they still don’t see results. They wonder will they ever lose weight, nothing works for them and they want to quit.

You cannot make yourself lose weight; you cannot directly control your metabolism.

You can control your behaviour. You can control how many km you run on the treadmill, you can control what you eat, you can control when you eat.

The results will come and the results will be sustained.

The hard kilometres on the treadmill are similar to the hard yards changing behaviour; tracking leading indicators, near miss reporting, SOR’s and safe behaviours. If you focus on and promote these the accident rate will drop.

The results come and the results are sustained.

We have seen this in the Dornan Group www.dornan.ie.

Over the last 18 months, we have focused on training rates, employee behaviour, SOR reporting and safety leadership through our Directors. We have seen fantastic results. We have achieved 1.72 million hours worked without an LTI.

Some people might say that we have been lucky but I do not accept luck is the answer. Is it unlucky to walk under a ladder, or is the person that walks under a ladder willing to take more risks.

Does the fact that taking these risks leads to accidents makes that person unlucky. Luck cannot be relied upon, logical systems can.

Our sports stars get lucky winning competitions, but the years of training that underpin that “luck” go unnoticed.

We focused on leading indicators, and we did that thing that everyone hates; we set targets and we measured.

We selected simple targets at a group management meeting and we started measuring sites against the targets.

Nobody likes to be measured and compared to others, or more accurately nobody likes to be last, or it turns out, third or fifth.

When you score a project team, project manager or a project director, disputes quickly arise; “The system isn’t fair, the measurement isn’t accurate, head office are only worried about stats”.

You will hear all of these, and some may be right, larger sites have an advantage on certain aspects and smaller sites with have the advantage on others. Any engagement is good engagement. Controlled, positive competition is good for teams.

Like the weight loss, the results came.

So what’s next?

During our “lucky” run something else became apparent. Like every construction firm, there will be busy periods and there will be quiet periods.

In 2019 we have a very steady period: how did this effect safety? During the steady period, our performance improved.

Our Dornan Culture is clear. Safety is of paramount importance to the board of directors, so safety is of paramount importance for the company. Everyone knows that.

But do they? If you are an electrician that just started, how do you know that?

What happens if the supervisor that you answer to only started last week; does that supervisor know that safety is of paramount importance?

What do they perceive their key performance indicators to be, because this is what they will try to satisfy?

This is where leadership is required. Leadership is the conduit between the board of management and our workforce.

The company values need to travel down the chain of leaders. We achieved this during our steady period. People were inducted, trained and mentored; they learned our culture and they performed.

Our challenge now is to maintain this improvement, as we get busier.

We will reinforce the systems and behaviours that have worked.

We will bring our leaders and leaderships skills to the challenge, bring the new people into our company, and teach them our culture.

The results will come.

John Paul Construction: Work safe, home safe


At John Paul Construction WORKSAFE – HOMESAFE is our behavioural based safety programme and our priority is that everyone who works on a John Paul Construction project or who may be affected by our works goes home safely at the end of each day. This objective sets the tone for everything we do.

Our EHS Management Systems are certified to ISO 45001:2018 and ISO 14001:2015 by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).

These management systems are multi-award-winning including the overall NISO All Ireland Safety Award in 2016, seven consecutive RoSPA Gold Medal Awards and NISO Consistent High Achiever Awards for the last eight years.

While we are proud of this level of recognition in the Industry, we recognise that systems and procedures alone do not produce the required results in health and safety and that we need to get the safety ‘buy-in’ from every person working on our projects.

Through the implementation of our Worksafe – Homesafe programme we seek to get this ‘buy-in’ from our management teams, subcontractors and every worker and by working as a team to achieve excellence in safety whereby a safe environment is maintained at all times and accidents are eliminated.

The programme is simple and is based on everyone playing their part and no one walking past safety issues. Through training, communication and engagement across our company we seek to create a community spirit whereby we are all focused on the same goal.

Construction Safety Week is an excellent initiative led by the CIF that can be used both by the industry and by individual contractors to raise the profile of safety and foster communication and engagement that will endure long after Safety Week.

Each year we plan a wide programme of events for the week following the daily themes and this year through our Safety Week organising committee we have an extensive programme which includes briefings, talks, presentations, videos and demonstrations that cover a wide range of safety topics and include companies such as ESB, Aware, Theatre at Work, RSA, Garda, HSA and many clients, consultants and training organisations.

As part of Construction Safety Week, we have launched a number of campaigns which include:
• Wellbeing and Mental Heath – poster campaign
• Plant Safety Zones – ‘Thumbs Up’ campaign
• Video clips developed with Theatre at Work to promote the key messages of our Worksafe Homesafe Programme

We hope that through these campaigns and our wide range of safety events that Safety Week this year will be our most successful yet and that it will help raise safety standards in the industry and eliminate avoidable accidents.

https://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1125525958-1024x683.jpghttps://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1125525958-300x300.jpgDavid O'RiordanSponsoredbuildings,CIF,conference,construction
The management and awareness of safety and health issues has progressed enormously in the construction sector in the past 18 years. Employers and workers have invested time and money to drive improvements, endeavoring to ensure all workers can work safely on construction projects in Ireland. No other sector can compare with...