The construction sector roughly contributes to 11% of India’s GDP and is estimated to employ more than 50 million people which is second to the agricultural sector in our country. While employing highly skilled and unskilled teams, many of whom lack training in construction safety, it is important to be aware of the risks, occupational diseases and health hazards that may lead to serious injuries or illnesses. These in turn threaten the safe working hours, leading to cost and time overruns. It is therefore essential to have clear safety guidelines and work procedures at construction sites for a safe work environment and creating awareness amongst on-site teams.
While construction safety procedures and processes establish a formal structure that promotes safe work and optimum worker productivity at a construction company; site safety rules cover specific worker behaviour that is important for personal safety at an individual level. The construction company or contractor create these site safety rules and are fully responsible for their implementation and monitoring. These rules when displayed in the form of posters or through workplace demos, serve to establish ideal safety practices among workers and offer them guidance on how they should conduct their activities on site. These rules are often the first line of safety defence and can range from general PPE guidelines to activity-specific rules which need to be adhered to.
Apart from safe working practices, it is important that equipment maintenance and material storage norms are followed and is the sole responsibility of the construction company. The periodical inspection of mechanical and electrical equipment ensures minimum risk of failure thereby simultaneously promoting better worker safety and improved productivity. As a check mechanism, Hazard identification and risk assessment audits should be done regularly to identify and resolve any faulty equipment before it leads to any accident or downtime.
The next most important area of focus is that of material handling & storage considering the huge volume of bricks, cement bags, reinforcement beams and other items that are consumed at site daily. It is important to follow the golden rules of sorting, cleaning and keeping construction materials above ground or at working surface level to ensure better visibility and ergonomics for workers handling them. In scenarios where a sizeable inventory is maintained basis operational requirements, proper stacking needs to be followed to prevent any mishaps. This also underscores the importance of Logistics planning which can contribute immensely in improving productivity through more efficient use of space and ensuring worker safety by preventing excessive storage of materials on site.
To ensure compliance with the aforementioned rules, it is ideal to create a safety culture whereby workers participate in safety talks, share personal anecdotes on how they averted a mishap and reporting unsafe incidents or practices proactively so that everyone collectively aims for a high standard of safety.
Despite being a largely unorganized sector, the construction industry in India has seen shining examples of firms prioritizing site safety to achieve world-class standards in construction quality and record project completion times. Mumbai-based Real Estate Platform and Development firm SILA is a prime example of how high safety standards should be incorporated at construction sites as seen at their ‘Inner Circle’ project in Alibaug and ‘Shubham’ high-rise apartment project in South Mumbai. With firms like SILA setting high safety standards in construction safety, it is imperative that other developers and contractors follow suit in adopting this safety-approach towards achieving better employee health and happier customers who can benefit from faster project delivery.