Code No: TMS141 Price: Rs1800/- Category: Industrial Safety
The construction industry in India today is very large and complex, but the rapid growth has led to a shortfall in terms of safety and health aspects of the construction workers. This has happened largely due to lack of formal organizations combined with a gap in terms of suitable legislations and standards and their implementation.
Accidents occurring at a construction site are usually due to a lack of communication among the various departments involved, and lack of proper inspections. The accidents may be due to the following factors:
- Collapse of building parts and masses of earth.
- Falling of objects and pieces of work on workers.
- Falls of persons from heights, ladders and stairs.
- Loading, unloading and transportation of loads.
- Working on machines.
- Blasting with explosives.
The major occupational diseases in constriction requiring particular attention are:
- Lead poisoning
- Diseases of joints and bones
- Poisoning by carbon monoxide and benzene
- Skin diseases
Though the nature of health and safety hazards are the same in developed and developing countries, the former have made a concerted effort towards identifying the adverse occupational safety and health consequences. This involves:
- carrying out research and investigations,
- arranging training and educational programmes,
- designing appropriate safety equipment,
- formulating effective legislation,
- providing for proper medical facilities,
Scope, objective and methodology
The scope of the techno-market survey on Occupational Health and Safety on Construction being done by Technology Management Centre for Technology, Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council, Department of Science and technology, Government of India, is to review the state of art of safety and health prevention measures in the construction industry in India with particular emphasis on the role of construction companies, government, labour unions, educational institutions and NGOs viz-a-viz the status occupational safety and health in developed countries.
The objective was to bring forth a set of recommendations base don the observations of the survey and to evolve an action plan for a more effective strategy towards occupational health and safety in construction.
The methodology adopted foe carrying out the techno-market survey consisted of the following:
Desk Study – consisted of studying in detail, the available literature on safety and hazard management in construction.
Primary survey analysis - involved site visits and organizing of seminar together with personal meetings with head of various companies, government agencies, manufacturing units and organization involved with health and safety.
The entire data was then compiled and edited.
Occupational safety hazards
A construction project involves a number of small contractors that may be lacking in terms of technical supervisors and trained workers and may resort to unsafe work practices such as :
- Improper building design.
- Lack of guardrails
- Problems with exits.
In addition to the above, occupational safety hazards in construction may occur due to any of the following factors:
- improper illumination,
- improper material handling and storage,
- improper walking and working surfaces,
- improperly protected pen floors and high platforms,
- obstructive and unclean floors and aisles,
- improperly shored trenches and excavations,
- badly maintained tools,
- improper scaffoldings,
- Wrongly designed ladders and stairs
- Unsuitable and badly maintained lifting appliances
- Unsafe demolition methods
- Insufficient protection against fire and electric hazards.
Occupational health hazards
Occupational health hazards associated with the construction industry include various diseases, mental and physical stress, disability and injuries. The potentially damaging factors are:
Noise – this causes hearing loss and also effects the heart.
Vibration – causes Raynaud’s syndrome, a potentially damaging disease affecting the fingers. It also causes physiological orders.
Dust – this mainly affects the respiratory system.
Major construction disasters
There are more than 9 million construction workers in India. Though the number of deaths due to construction related activity is not known, some major disasters causes a number of deaths & makes the policy makers review their entire safety programme.
Prevention of health and safety hazards
The management and supervisory staff, at construction sites, ca minimize unsafe conditions by constantly monitoring the progress of the work and the workforce. Training and proper education also helps in achieving safety. In addition to these, the general provisions required to attain a safe work-site are:
- Emergency alarms
- Safety guidelines for equipment use
- Safety belts
- Safety nets
- Safety inspections
- Mitigating factors
Health hazards may be minimized by the following methods:
- Equipment modification
- Isolating the worker form the damaging machinery
- By making provisions for personal protective equipment
- By providing adequate illumination
- Proper housekeeping
- Replacement of hazardous building materials
Together with adherence to a good practice and predictive hazard evaluation.
A good work environment is necessary for improving the safety and health of the workers and also helps to increase productivity. It consists of the following:
- work area and work conditions
- noise and hearing
- cold and wet
- dust and fumes
The work site must also take proper precautions for emergency measures. The entire progamme for preplanning for emergency control must be a coordinated effort and must include all personnel from the management as well as the force and proper instructions and suitable training must be provided to them on the following lines:
- Identification of hazard
- Provision of safeguards
- Proper safety guidelines
- Simulated drills
- Identification warning signals
Safety in Construction: Good practices
To identify good safety practices in construction, the survey team visited the following work sites:
- Thapar-Dupont construction project Gummidipoondi, Tamil Nadu
- Obayashi Limited Construction of extension of Nizamuddin bridge, New Delhi.
- Gammon Construction India Limited construction of extension of ITO bridge, New Delhi.
In India, all building workers who have completed eighteen years of age, but have not complete the age of sixty, and are engage in a construction activity for not less than ninety days during the preceding twelve months shall be eligible for benefits under the Building and other Construction Workers Second Ordinance, 1996.
In America workmen’s compensation laws are state statutes under which a employer is bound to pay a predetermined amount of compensation for any injury suffered by an employee.
In Australia an employer is liable to his employee for injuries caused to him through his negligent order or other negligent act on his part. If the injury suffered by the employee is partly the result of the employee’s own negligence, then the damages are recoverable by the employers.
The provision of safeguards to eliminate or reduce the accidents are based on two important aspects:
a) Cost of accident prevention
b) Moral regard for human life
Calculation of cost of accident prevention includes:
a) Direct costs
b) Indirect costs
c) Cost of safety programmes
For implementation of the various safety measures, the various safety measures, the management and trade unions must contribute individually to create a safe work environment.
The role of management should be:
- To give some priority to safety measures as to production and quality.
- Employ adequate staff for implementing safety polices.
- Provide proper training to personnel.
- Conduct regular safety inspection.
Role of Trade unions:
- Assist government commissions and other public committees dealing with worker’s safety
- Suggest and ask for investigations into hazardous processes
- Provide and create awareness among their members.
- A wide variety of research developments in construction equipment and project management has occurred in the recent past.
- Effective performance measures for all parties involved in a construction project are lacking.
- Facilities for training skilled and semi-skilled personnel for construction are conspicuous by their absence.
- There has been a proliferation of establishments over which the government bodies have a loose control.
- The construction workers are almost always made to live in the vicinity of the work-site with no adequate lodging or sanitary arrangements.
- The semi-skilled and unskilled workers, together with women and children; are unaware of the use of personal protective equipment.
- Health facilities for construction workers are lacking.
- The labour unions are often responsible for endangering the lfe of workers.
- Lack of feedback systems – Construction knowledge feedback generally occurs through distribution of a memorandum regarding a problem, and sometimes through distributions in various meetings and conferences. This methodology has certain shortcomings.
- The current status of safety in construction exposes the fact that safety has been a non-issue so far, despite the fact that almost one out of every five workers received injury annually.
- Researchers should actively involve the industry in defining and garnering support for long-term construction research agenda.
- Regular safety audits, review of safety procedures, safety performance monitoring should be important constituents of company policies.
- Short term training courses on safety for unskilled workers should be organized by construction companies.
- The government should play a more visible role in ensuring a high standards of safety in the construction industry.
- Separate residential area with proper sanitary facilities at the site itself should be earmarked for those workers staying at the construction site.
- Workers should be made aware of the need to use personal protective equipment.
- Health services offered by the government to workers in other sectors should also be extended t construction workers.
- Trade unions need to be educate on the importance of safety measures.
- To make the feedback systems more effective, a comprehensive strategy involving trade unions, workers’ representatives, non-governmental organizations, and safety professionals needs to be implemented.
- Constant review and upgradation of the concerned legislations, safety standards, organizational policies, training prgrammes are essential for successful safety and health management.
- TIFAC, Government of India, should encourage NGO’s, such as Technology Management Centre, to disseminate information on occupational safety and health through a joint forum of trade unions and managers.
- The experience of developed countries and Multi National Corporations (MNC’s) could also be utilized in establishing satellite clinics and mobile clinics at large construction sites, using local resources.
- The government should show concern for the health and safety of workers by organizing occasional and highly publicized visit by important labor and health officials to major construction sites that are well covered by the media.
- The government of India, in coordination with organizations engaged in the field of occupational health and safety, needs to set up Information Cells throughout the country which would be involved in information collection, processing, storage and dissemination.
- A full course on Safety in Civil works should be included in the syllabi of the civil engineering degree and diploma programmes of education in the country.
Desired impact of the action plan
- Construction workers comprise the unorganized and underprivileged section of community. They have been deprived of social justice to which the government is wedded. It is, therefore, imperative that the government gives attention to the construction industry, more particularly to the life and limb of workers employed