• Gary Clarkson

Does the safety of our workforce matter if it costs too much?

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

In some cases it would appear not.

Pretty contentious I know, but it seems to me that our industry places cost and timeframe well above the health and welfare of the people doing the work.

I have lost count of the number of times that I have observed unsafe practices being accepted because to do otherwise would increase cost or make the work take a bit longer to complete.

Sometimes to be fair it is down to ignorance of the risks — we have so many people in our industry who think they know what they are doing or have being doing it wrong for so long that they don't know any better. But that's a story for another day.

So let's look at what we need to do to change things.

Its all in the planning

Those who know me, know that I place a lot of emphasis on the importance of planning. Especially when it comes to doing things safely.

In construction the planning component starts well before we start building, even before we start thinking about tendering work, we need to ask ourselves can we afford to do the work safely and in the timeframe we have set ourselves.

It just so happens there is a well proven approach that will ensure that these questions, and more, are answered. Ladies and Gentlemen let me introduce to you:

Construction Design and Management

The Construction and Design and Management (CDM) approach started in the UK back in 2007 and is embedded in UK health and safety law. It has undergone some changes with the latest revision in 2015.

The principles are very straightforward and spread responsibility for safety to all the stakeholders throughout the entire project from inception to completion.

  • The Client needs to make suitable arrangements for managing a project, including the allocation of sufficient time and other resources. Novel eh?

  • The Designers must take into account the general principles of prevention - I will cover Safety in Design soon.

  • The Main or Principal Contractor must plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and coordinate matters relating to health and safety during the construction.

Hardly rocket science is it?

I believe the principles laid out in the UK's CDM legislation would go a long way to making our working men and women safer.

If you would like to read more and maybe adopt some of the approaches, have a look here.

If you would like to discuss how you might implement some of these principles give me a call.

We need to do more to look after our people and if you are a client and you want some construction work carried out, if you can't afford to do it safely, you can't afford to do it.

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