6 principles of safety for construction projects

Paul Sancandi
August 29, 2012

The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Construction Innovation’s Guide to Best Practice for Safer Construction: Tasks, was drafted in 2007 to suggest best practice in the management of safety on construction sites and to guide the building and construction industry towards best practices to improve safety performance.

The Guide covers the following four stages of the project lifecycle:

  • Stage 1 – Planning
  • Stage 2 – Design
  • Stage 3 – Construction
  • Stage 4 – Post Construction

This article will provides an overview and summary of the key tasks in the management for safer construction during the Stage 1 Planning stage of the project lifecycle, as included in the CRC Guide. It is assumed that the project manager has been engaged by the client to act as its representative to manage the delivery of the project.

In the planning stage, the project manager identifies and articulates the need for a particular facility or structure. A number of options are usually investigated so as to select the option which best suits the client’s needs. Project safety should be a criterion used in evaluating all options and arriving at a preferred option.

For a traditional ‘design and construct only’ project, most of the actions during the planning stage are the responsibility of the project manager. However, the project manager may engage a designer to assist during this stage. For an alliance project, the contractor may also share these responsibilities with the project manager and the designer.

All projects are unique and the project stakeholders need to determine the appropriateness and degree of applicability of the tasks and procedures to their particular project.

The CRC Guide details six principles to be followed in the planning stage as follows:

Principle 1: Demonstrate Safety Leadership

Establish a project safety management framework
At the outset of a project, the project manager should establish terms of reference for a project safety leadership team responsible for establishing a culture of safety across the project and overseeing the day-to-day management of safety throughout the life of the project.

It is essential that the project safety leadership team is led by a senior member of the project management team, rather than delegating the role to a safety professional.

Identify safety champions for appointment to the project safety leadership team

The project manager should identify safety champions from the client and project management team to participate in the project safety leadership team to ensure that a culture of safety is instilled in the project.

Appoint a project safety leadership team
A project safety leadership team comprising the champions enlisted should be established to be responsible for overseeing safety throughout the entire life of the project. The project safety leadership team should be formally appointed to operate within the project safety management framework established.

Develop project safety charter
A project safety charter should be developed. The charter should be a public document and displayed prominently in project offices to declare the client’s and project manager’s intentions in relation to project safety.

Develop project safety master plan
A project safety master plan should be developed during the planning stage of the project. It is an overarching plan which will inform and guide the development of subordinate safety plans for design, construction and commissioning of the facility/structure.

Principle 2: Promote design for safety

Specify safety requirements in project brief
The project manager should prepare a project brief that, among other things, sets out the safety requirements and objectives for the project. The project manager should collate and provide to the designer all available data relating to the site that may affect safety considerations in the design. The project brief should establish performance criteria for safety in the design stage.

Include safe design requirements in design consultant contracts
The project manager should ensure that the contract for the engagement of the designers contains requirements for design for safety. In selecting a designer, the project manager should ensure that safety requirements are adequately considered in the tender or proposal for the appointment of the designers, that all proposals are considered on an equal footing, and that these considerations are commensurate to the risk profile of the project.

Select qualified designers
Following the preparation of the project brief the project manager should engage the designers. The selection of the designers should be made on the basis that the designers have demonstrated competence in and commitment to design for safety and the principles proposed in the project safety charter. In the selection criteria for the engagement of a designer, clear requirements for safety performance and competence should be included.

Establish requirements for safety in design
The project manager should collaborate with the designers in order to establish and agree on the general design requirements to be considered during concept and final, detailed design. These requirements should be flexible to respond to any emerging safety issues that might arise as the project evolves.

Author avatar
Paul Sancandi
Paul Sancandi is a senior design manager with InfraSol Group. He has a technical background as a structural engineer, owned an architectural and engineering practice and has worked in Australia, Asia and the Middle East on a wide range of small to mega projects over the past 32 years.
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