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adProperty News

Safety at site
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2008-02-02 City : Chennai

A majority of accidents occur because of improper scaffolding, writes - PAUL COMRIE


     India’s contractors and engineers are often faced with a poorly educated work force in the construction industries, according to industry panelists in a conference held at the Indian institute for Lab our in Chennai last week. This is just one of many contributing factors to the difficulties associated with health and safety in the building trades.

     Industry specialists from both the private and public sectors spoke on issues as far ranging as fire prevention, electrocution and the safety challenges of adopting to an era of multi-storey construction.

     Some spoke of using simple acronyms like RICE (rest-ice compress-elevate) and ample signage to avoid major accidents and death on the worksite.

     “There is a simply too much unregulated activity,” said G.Ganesh, a private sector engineer who spoke at the conference. “There needs to be greater respect for safety. Whether you’re a high level contractor or the common man, you have to realize there will be consequences to your actions.”

     Ganesh’s warnings came at the tail end of a spate of troubles in Chennai construction industries. Eight men died working in Chennai construction in December alone.

     “Over 90% of all construction fatalities and accidents are because of a failure to implement proper scaffding.”


Main reasons


     Cement form-working and bamboo pole scaffolding are the main reasons for such deaths.

     While several speakers noted the cost effectiveness of wooden scaffolding, studies show they aren’t sufficient for the new era of vertical construction projects. Slides were shown of proper steel pole H-frame scaffolding units and how they should be bolted to the building, and covered by netting.

     Specifies were addressed according to the TAG international safety specification system. These include lifelines, which must be anchored to rigid structures; tensioning of lifelines by mechanical device; netting set at 45 degree pitch about the perimeter of a building; and no worker should be allowed to fall any further than 3 metres before either being caught by net or life line.

     An equally lethal hazard is the issue of architectural ‘black holes,’ comprising lift openings, staircases and tunneling.

     The majority of these fatalities are a result o falling in to pits and being subsequently covered in debris or cement before medics can be reached.




     While the majority of puncture wounds and fatalities on work sites are a result of fall, the issue of electrocution was also thoroughly addressed. Slides demonstrating severe electrocution burns were displayed, along with basic information regarding their treatment and means of prevention.

     Several lectures pointed out the necessity of routine health checkups, including obesity tests, fitness checks and rigorous training for working at height or with electrical equipment or during fire evacuations.

     According to statistics presented, many lives could already have been saved with sample tests for salt-deficiency, heat exhaustion and intense thirst.

     A senior faculty member mentioned however that the lion’s share of responsibility will have to rest with the new private sector companies.

     “The Government can no longer supply adequate safety measures and equipment for all these projects. Our job will be to inspire and facilities to train and develop their worker’s skills and ensure a safe working environment for all. Our role as government will be to act as guide.”



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