6 principles of safety for construction projects

Paul Sancandi
August 29, 2012

Principle 3: Communicate safety information

Communicate safety commitments to prospective stakeholders
Communication of safety policy to all stakeholders (and potential stakeholders) is essential. The project manager, in collaboration with other stakeholders, should develop a project communication plan and strategy to inform all stakeholders of its commitment (and their obligations as partners in safety) to a safety culture for the project.

Communicate project safety risk information to relevant stakeholders
Following the creation of the project risk register, all project safety risk information should be conveyed by the project manager and the designers to relevant stakeholders.

Project safety risk information should be communicated to relevant (prospective) contractors and other relevant stakeholders to provide advance information on safety risks. This early notice will enable them to plan their work to either eliminate or minimise project safety risks.

Principle 4: Manage safety risks

Conduct risk analysis of project options
The project manager, with the assistance of the designers, should undertake a safety risk analysis for each project option. A safety risk analysis should be prepared by assessing the relationship between the project stakeholders, the public, the eventual users of the facility/structure and the environment. It should concentrate on what can happen, and how and why it can happen in the implementation of the project.

Undertake technical feasibility studies of viable options

The project manager, with the assistance of the designers, should undertake preliminary feasibility studies of design options proposed to meet the facility/structure’s need. Safety risks should be identified for each option and ranked for degree of severity. Options where risks are identified as extreme may be declared not feasible, and other alternatives may need to be considered. Other considerations may include safer alternative construction processes and the levels of skills and resources required by the contractor to build the facility/structure using safe construction processes.

Select preferred project option based on robust risk assessment

Taking into account the feasibility studies conducted, the preferred option should be selected. The selection of the preferred option should be based on all considerations, i.e. quality, cost, time, aesthetics, amenity, environment and safety. The preferred option should be accompanied by the project risk register.

Record safety information in a project risk register

A project risk register should be compiled by the project manager with the designer’s assistance following the selection of the preferred project option. This will be a ‘living document’. It should be updated throughout the project lifecycle as new risks are identified. When risks are eliminated, they should be recorded as such, but still remain on the risk register.

Principle 5: Continuously improve safety performance

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) for safety
Appropriate KPIs for measuring project safety performance against project and organisational objectives and industry standards should be established. These should be developed initially by the project manager, but they may be modified as other stakeholders engage with the project. KPIs should include both leading and lagging indicators.

Principle 6: Entrench safety practices

Continuously develop safety capabilities
All project stakeholders should implement programs for induction and on-the-job performance of staff to ensure they are familiar with the aims and objectives of the project safety charter and that their safety capabilities are continuously enhanced.

Develop long-term relationships within supply chain

As early as possible in the project lifecycle, the client should develop relationships with consultants, contractors, subcontractors and other key project stakeholders to engage them in project safety management processes. In addition to providing their knowledge and lessons learned from other projects, other project stakeholders should be able to contribute productively to project safety strategies.

In this series:

  1. 6 principles of safety for construction projects
  2. Safety in construction design during the project lifecycle
  3. Managing safety on a construction project
  4. Post-construction safety for project managers
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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