Laying a Foundation for Safety

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Safety is crucial throughout all stages of commercial construction. From planning to construction to operations – taking proper precautions to safeguard lives, secure data and protect property is not only in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but it is also the right thing to do to mitigate loss of human lives, property and critical information. The news of more than 175 people losing their lives from a foundation collapsing in Bangladesh this past week highlights the importance of safety in building manufacturing, critical/mixed use, and healthcare facilities. Safety planning during the design process is crucial.

In the United States we are guided by OSHA construction industry standards, regulations and guidelines such as ANSI/ASSE Z590.3-2011. The Z590.3 went into effect in 2012 and provides for prevention through design within occupational safety and health management systems. There are several key factors to ensure compliance to these standards and responsibility for safety during the design phase and beyond.

The first requirement is involvement and support from senior level managers to engineers. Safety must be a priority at the highest levels of an organization and it must be communicated to contractors, vendors, engineers and partners throughout the design phase. Every key player should be included when evaluating design choices to understand occupational hazards and risks. The insight and experience of employees close to hazards are critical in the risk assessment and design process. It is important for all stakeholders to believe it is crucial to place safety first, to protect people during construction and well into the future.

The second matter of importance is assessment of life cycle. Industries, equipment and buildings are not the same. Machinery, equipment, processes, tools, work premises, maintenance needs, disposal – all of these factors must be evaluated at conception with an understanding of the lifespan for the facility. Subject matter experts can help determine risk levels, prevent or reduce injuries or fatalities, and mitigate hazards through proper planning, site specific safety training and assessment.

Lastly, ongoing assessments, communication and continuous improvement must occur. If an area needs to be redesigned or a process reworked, the time spent to improve is far less than the cost of an injury or loss. Engaging employees and outside consultants who have expertise and safety training in hazard identification, analysis and risk assessment will help ensure adherence to safety design standards and specifications. Safety is a continual, ongoing process; however its root can be found in a well thought out, comprehensive foundation. buy term papers online


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