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Safety in construction design during the project lifecycle

Paul Sancandi
September 7, 2012

Following on from Stage 1 – Planning, this article provides an overview and summary of the key tasks in the management for safer construction, 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 design stage converts the planning concepts and the preferred technical solution for a facility/structure into drawings and technical specifications. Project safety is an integral component of the design process.

For a traditional project delivery model—where the client/ project manager directly engages a designer to undertake detailed design—the project safety decisions during the design stage are the result of collaboration between the designer and the client/project manager.

However, in a design and construct or a collaborative project delivery model, the primary collaboration will be between the constructor and the client/project manager, with participation of the designer subject to the terms of their engagement.

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 design stage as follows:

Principle 1: Demonstrate safety leadership

Develop design safety plan
Once a designer is selected and engaged, a project-specific design safety plan should be prepared. The plan should be developed by the designer in collaboration with the project manager. 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.

Specify how safety is to be addressed in tenders for construction
The project manager and designer should consider how safety is to be dealt with in tenders, to provide a basis for evaluation and comparison between tenders.

Include safety requirements in construction contract documents
The project manager, in collaboration with the designer, should specify how safety is to be addressed in contract documents.

Establish assessment criteria for prospective constructors
The project manager should specify assessment criteria for the evaluation of tenders — including project safety management and performance.

Evaluate tenders against safety criteria
The project manager should evaluate tenders in accordance with the specified evaluation criteria.

Select qualified constructor
In selecting a qualified constructor, the project manager should take into account the safety competencies of the proposed project team and the proposed approach and innovation for the management of safety in the project.

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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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