Principles of Prevention in Construction
One of the major duties of the Project Supervisor for the Design Process (PSDP) is taking a full account of the nine principles of prevention. This is when the Principles of Prevention in Construction (PSDP) will review all design risk assessments with an eye toward risk reduction and elimination. In essence, this professional should be determining any hazards that may come about and working to eliminate them or at least make them less likely.
However, what does that mean? The General Principles of Prevention, Schedule 3 of the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act 2005 explains what the principles of prevention consist of and what the PSDP should be looking at and determining the risks of. We will go over each of these below, with examples and tips for how to utilise the principles in the best way.
The Avoidance of Risks
At all times, avoidance of risk situations is essential in the design process. There are a few ways to ensure this, in order to ensure the workplace is safe and accessible while work is underway. The following are some sample risk avoidance behaviours that you can model your own off of, but there are many more that you should come up with on your own, depending on your job site and project.
- When concrete is being poured, inserting openings or channels in the floor can help avoid hazards associated with dust, noise, and falls from height that can often be attributed to core drilling and chasing after the concrete has set.
- The PSDP should determine and specify systems or materials can help remove any hazards during the construction stage until the structure is in use. Any dangers that would otherwise have existed should be negated and mitigated.
The Evaluation of Unavoidable Risks
It is unavoidable that construction work often takes place in a high-risk environment, which makes it impossible to avoid every possible risk. Those risks that are unavoidable should be thoroughly assessed by the PSDP. They can then choose control methods to implement that will reduce the risk to a more acceptable level.
This is done by carrying out risk assessments for elements of the works designer, specialist designer, and temporary works designer. That information must then be provided to the PSDP and the PSCS so they can determine the control methods that should be used to provide the most safety possible for every worker. This helps ensure everyone is aware of the risks and how they should be handled, eliminating a significant amount of the risk associated.
The Combating of Risks at the Source
The principle of combating threats at the source indicates that it is better to minimise risks where practicable, or design out risks, rather than leaving them there to be dealt with on site. Dealing with a potential hazard before the hazard is in place offers preventative safety that ensures the problem is addressed before the risk can come to fruition.
One risk that can easily be combated at the source is eliminating the hazard that comes along with working at height during construction. The PSDP may wish to ensure that fabricating craning and assemblies are in place, so there is less chance of someone suffering an injury while at height. Others may include safety rails, equipment, or methods that are related to your particular project.
The Adaptation of Work to the Individual
This principle looks to alleviate monotonous work and work at a predetermined rate to reduce the effect on the health of an employee. The primary things to consider here include the design of places of work, the choice of work equipment to use, and the systems of work put in place.
Some examples of where this might come into play include sequencing work in a way that allows the heavier material to be lifted into place rather than lifted manually or production of templates or brackets to hold equipment which will minimise strain on the workers.
The Adaptation of the Place of Work to Technical Progress
The principle listed here relates to a duty to keep pace with technical progress in the workplace. Essentially, a PSDP should be aware of innovations in technology that could make a work environment safer or more efficient. If there is a technology available that can improve the construction phase, it should be utilized unless there is a good reason for it not to be. It is up to the PSDP to determine those nuances and do what needs to be done for the good of the workplace.
The Replacement of Dangerous Articles, Substances, or Systems of Work by Non-Dangerous or Less Dangerous Articles, Substances, or Systems of Work
What this principle is asking for is that the designer considers the many choices of material or systems available to achieve a particular design objective. The decision of the material and systems should be made while considering the best ways to avoid risk, as much as is practicable.
The PSCS should also consider the systems and material available to achieve construction objectives and be certain they are choosing the right systems or materials to avoid risks, as well. The safety of the team is important and has to be upheld as much as it is practical.
The Development of an Adequate Prevention Policy in Relation to Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work, Which Takes Account of Technology, Organisation of Work, Working Conditions, and Social Factors Related to the Working Environment
This principle is a mouthful, but it boils down to a pretty simple idea. The preliminary safety and health plan (PSDP), safety and health plan (PSCS), and the safety file (PSDP) should be documented with regards to the management of health and safety throughout the entire construction project.
When it comes to an extension or a refurbishment project, reference should be made to any existing safety file to ensure health and safety are continually considered.
Priority to be Given to Collective Protective Measures over Individual Protective Measures
This principle means that it is more important to reduce the risk of everyone than it is to decrease the risk to one person or a group of individuals. This applies to systems and materials that are used. One example might be designing in measures that will accommodate collective fall protection measures, such as nets used during construction instead of only implementing harnesses that help one or a few workers, rather than all of them.
Other ways this can be done is by the PSCS determining and coordinating measures like guard rails to avoid falls, installing precast concrete flooring slabs, or offering a structure that can decrease the falling risk for everyone who is in danger of falling.
The Giving of Appropriate Training and Instructions to Employees
Employers must give thorough and appropriate instruction and training to their employees, including designers. This ensures that every worker may carry out their job duties under the Construction Regulations 2013 and all over relevant statutory provisions.
These nine principles cover the entirety of the principles of prevention. You should understand the hazards that design can present during construction and maintenance, how to eliminate those hazards or reduce their risks, and the best ways to communicate control measures to the PSDP so they can be included in the safety and health plan.