Construction Workers Beware when Offloading Materials on Site

A plastering company’s director died during a modified delivery operation on a construction site in London recently. The construction company responsible was ordered to pay over £50,000($73,683.50) in fines and prosecution costs. The accident happened when a pallet containing over a tonne of render fell on top of him, killing him. The man was the director of a plastering company who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The incident occurred when delivery operations were being carried out and the pallet fell and struck the man, aged 37.The victim Phillip Ring was from Plymouth.

The site had breached safety regulations by not offloading the delivery at a nearby construction site using a forklift truck but restrictions on access to the site and a lack of mechanical handling equipment resulted in unloading the pallet by hand at a nearby business park using the pallet truck and lorry tail lift.

A post on PPCConstructionSafety.com explains further:

During the operation control of the load was ‘lost’ causing the load to fall from the tail lift thereby crushing Mr Ring who was standing on the road at the rear of the vehicle. He suffered serious head injuries and died later at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

Significant risks involved in delivery operations

RR Transport Ltd of Redruth was fined £22,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jo Fitzgerald said:

“This was a tragic incident and it illustrates the significant risks involved in delivery operations. Thinking through those risks in a structured way helps delivery firms identify what could go wrong and improve safety.

While HSE does not say that RR Transport’s failings caused Mr Ring’s death, by failing to assess the risks properly the company did not have a number of important steps in place, which would have made their operation safer.

The company did not have a clear, consistent system for drivers to follow for using tail lifts, the tail lifts on their vehicles had not had the thorough examinations required by law and they did not have a proper system for inspecting their pallet trucks.”

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2013/04/16/off-loading-render-pallet-ended-in-tragedy/

Good planning and preparation are the keys to safe loading and offloading on construction sites. Early identification of traffic management, holding areas and loading/unloading facilities that are required will establish the safety management leadership to support good practice when all loading and unloading takes place on construction sites. While there are some principal contractors that take their responsibilities seriously and provide access gantries that can be located around the site at appropriate positions for off-loading and others have installed systems for the contractors to connect their safety equipment to before offloading, there are still some that aren’t concerned about the danger workers and the public are being confronted with because of improper loading and offloading.

 

Construction Safety Update: Welding

Source : Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Welding is common on every construction site and so welding safety should feature on the safety management agenda. The most important consideration for welding work is that welders be suitably trained and experienced for the work they are to perform, in order to minimize the risks and hazards involved.

If workers who are not suitably competent to conduct welding work, are instructed by superiors to do so, the business will be held responsible for any incidents that may occur and will most likely receive a fine. So before allowing workers to engage in this potentially dangerous task consider whether the person is qualified and in possession of a certificate. The workers should be able to demonstrate recent experience and competence.

The next consideration would be to ensure that personal protective equipment and clothing be provided for the worker engaged in welding. Some of the PPE required includes a helmet with a filtered lens, fire resistant gloves, a leather apron, boots and leather spats. It is important that PPE be maintained and cleaned regularly to ensure its effectiveness.

A risk assessment of the process of welding on the site should be carried out and if the process is absolutely necessary then a safety plan will ensure it is safely carried out. The hazards involved with welding on a construction site include:

  • The arc which reaches very high temperatures (approximately 6000 degrees Celsius) is very hot and presents a hazard. The rays emitted by the welding, both ultraviolet and infra-red can be dangerous to those around it. Welders not wearing overalls can sustain injuries similar to extreme sunburn.
  • The fumes can also be dangerous. When conducted in an open air environment, the fumes may be released safely into the air without causing harm. The biggest hazard is presented by welding in a confined space. Welding in a confined area, or a space without proper ventilation can cause the worker to suffocate and precautions should be taken, such as wearing a respirator or maintaining good ventilation in the space.
  • Another hazard is presented by the combination of heat and gas which can be volatile. Welding can cause explosions so the material being welded should be assessed to ensure that it will not explode. For example a drum or container that previously contained toxic fumes can explode when welding takes place. Ensure that heating does not liberate toxic fumes, causing an explosion.
  • Also a welded surface will be extremely hot. So it should not be touched by the person engaged in welding and others that may be on the site as it can cause a burn.
  • The greatest danger to the welder is presented by the electrical circuit. Welders should never attempt to connect or chance welding cables before switching its off at the mains first.  Welders should ensure they install the welding machine as near as possible to the power point and only use welding cables that are insulated completely.

Welders should also wear rubber soled shoes and dry gloves when handling equipment that is live. Electrical repairs to the welding machine should be done by an electrician and not by the welder.

When engaged in gas welding, ensure that the gas is not leaking. Leaking gas can be extremely dangerous. Leaking oxygen makes the atmosphere more oxygen rich which can be dangerous if someone lights a cigarette or a spark ignites.

Also welders shouldn’t smoke when welding and those in the vicinity also shouldn’t smoke or keep a lighter on them as it could explode.

As long as welders are operating safely and not cutting corners to save time, welding need not be a dangerous activity.