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Post-construction safety for project managers

Paul Sancandi
September 24, 2012

Following on from Stage 3 – Construction, this article provides an overview and summary of the key tasks in the management for safer construction during the Stage 4 – Post Construction stage of the project lifecycle, as included in the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Construction Innovation’s Guide to Best Practice for Safer Construction: Tasks. It is assumed in this article that the project manager has been engaged by the client to act as his representative to manage the delivery of the project.

The post-construction stage follows the handover of the facility/structure to the client. This stage will usually involve a defects liability period that will involve working in occupied premises. Depending on the type of facility/structure, it may include commissioning of plant and management equipment into service. Some projects have a staged handover, whereby a part of the facility/structure is brought into operation ahead of another section, which is still under construction. During this stage, the client may pass the facility/structure into the hands of the occupier, who will be responsible for the operation of the facility/structure and its maintenance.

The safe operation of the facility/structure will have been considered in the design, including maintenance, servicing, cleaning, and facilities management. Design issues to improve safety include access for internal and external maintenance and cleaning, floor surfaces, elimination of manual handling, storage areas, fire evacuation, disabled access, security systems and access. During this stage, a review should be conducted of the entire construction project process to see if there are any lessons that can be learned that could be fed into safety management processes for future projects.

Clearly all projects are unique and the project stakeholders should determine the appropriateness and degree of applicability of the suggested tasks and procedures to their particular project, commensurate with the risk profile of that project.

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

Principle 1: Demonstrate Safety Leadership

Develop a commissioning safety plan

Where applicable, a commissioning safety plan should be developed prior to handing the facility/structure over to the owner/occupier. The plan should be developed by the designer in collaboration with the project manager and the constructor. The designer in this case may be the designer of the plant and equipment to be installed, rather than the designer of the facility/structure. The project manager may engage a suitably experienced third party to independently review the plan if no such expertise exists within the client’s organisation.

Perform post-construction review
The client, project manager, designer and constructor should undertake a safety review of the facility/structure to identify any hazards requiring rectification prior to occupation.

Evaluate project performance
The project manager, designer and constructor should evaluate the risks captured in the project risk register during the planning, design and construction of the project, and the overall safety performance of the project.

Recognise and reward good safety management and leadership
The project stakeholders should recognise and reward their staff members who have contributed to good safety outcomes on the project.

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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