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Present Status and Improvement of

Industrial Safety at Construction Sites


Subhash M. Kodolkar and K. Ramprasad
Industrial Plants Safety Division
Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Mumbai-400 094
E-mail: smkodolkar@ aerb.gov.in

Abstract
This paper deals with the comparison of injury statistics of the construction sites and
operating units of the power generating atomic energy installations. Injury statistics
described in the tables & shown in few graphs reveals that the number of injuries, fatalities
and man-days lost are comparatively higher at the construction sites as compared to
operating units. Number of fatalities and man-days lost are around 8 times more at
construction units than operating units, which poses a great challenge to industrial safety
at construction sites. On an average, it is observed that every year one lost time injury
takes place amongst 475 employees at construction units and amongst 875 employees at
operating units. Comparing the number of minor injuries (lost time injuries/reported
injuries) and major injuries (fatalities) occurred at operating units and at construction units,
we can conclude that on an average 35 minor injuries have laid foundation of 1 major injury
at operating units and 11 minor injuries have laid foundation of 1 major injury at
construction units. It is evident that fall of persons & fall of objects from height are the
major contributors for the injuries and high severity. Few safety precautions are highlighted
in this paper in the form of suggestions to control the injuries and subsequent severity
and to improve the industrial safety status at construction sites.
1. Introduction
The progress of any country is measured in terms of development. Construction
activities are the key to any development process, be it industrial, economic or social. As
per Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) Country Report 2005-06, annual
turnover of the construction industry is around Rs. 3921 billion which is 6.2% to national
GDP and providing employment to around 33 million workers, involving 4.7% engineers,
2.5% technicians & foreman, 15.3% skilled labours and 73.1% unskilled workers.
From the above data it is clear that majority of the workers are unskilled and deployed
at construction activities. As the duration of every construction activities at site is short
and dynamic, the job of construction worker is temporary and migratory in nature.
Construction work at a project site is carried out by number of contractors and their sub-
contractors. When construction work at site is in full swing, various activities are carried
out simultaneously at different locations and at different elevations. Work of construction
is carried out in more than one shift and even during late hours of night. When construction
work is in progress the location of job and activities are dynamic and go on changing
frequently posing unplanned hazards.
The Construction Action Programme (CAP) of the International Labour
Organisation (ILO) has specified that the poor record of the construction
industry on occupational safety & health as one of the key problems and a cause
Present Status and Improvement of Industrial Safety at Construction Sites 47

of concern. This paper is being published taking into account this aspect and the increased
number of loss time injuries & fatalities at construction activities as compared with
operating units of the power generating atomic energy installations.
2. Applicable Legislations for Construction Activities
Occupier has to comply with applicable legislation in his pursuit to minimise & control
the injuries / damages, to the human being / equipment at construction works. Earlier,
there were few legislations applicable for construction activities in India and those were
skewed. In order to make comprehensive safety legislations, Government of India has
enacted the following Act / Rules to safeguard construction workers (in addition to all other
applicable Acts / Rules) :
- Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions
of Service) Act, 1996 (BOCWA, 1996) which came in to effect from 1st March, 1996.
- Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions
of Service) Rules, 1998 (BOCWR) which came in to effect from 11th November, 1998.
3. Present Scenario of Injury Statistics at Construction & Operating
Units of Power Generating Atomic Energy Installations
A comparative study of the injury statistics of some of the operating and the construction
units of power generating atomic energy installations over the period of eight years has
been carried out. The findings are as follows :
Table : 1

Construction Units Operating Units


Time Injuries

Time Injuries
No. of Fatal

No. of Fatal
Man Hours

Man Hours
No. of Man

No. of Man
No. of Lost

No. of Lost
Employees

Employees
Days Lost

Days Lost
Injuries

Injuries
Worked

Worked
No. of

No. of

Year
2005 35 9 54975 26037 85506285 5 0 90 12275 30053421
2004 33 3 20832 24383 82834540 1 1 6000 11857 30785534
2003 45 3 20219 21457 74919283 10 0 252 13757 34611691
2002 37 5 34703 16648 54457242 9 0 149 14228 35937817
2001 49 2 16569 10036 31440356 16 0 274 11447 27947773
2000 46 3 18909 11031 26491384 15 0 237 8747 21846360
1999 30 0 579 13640 32745560 16 0 1481 9583 23856352
1998 13 1 6263 13777 21300000 33 2 12642 9599 24231562
Total 288 26 173049 137009 409694650 105 3 21125 91493 229270510
48 Proceedings of National Symposium on Industrial and Fire Safety – 2006

Injury Trend
Construction Units Operating Units

60
50
40
Injuries

30
20
10
0
1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005
Year
Fig. 1.

Fatality Trend

10

8
Fatalities

6
4

0
1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Year

Construction Units Operating Units

Fig. 2.
Present Status and Improvement of Industrial Safety at Construction Sites 49

Trend in Man Days Lost

60000
50000
Man Days Lost

40000
30000
20000
10000
0
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Year

Construction Units Operating Units

Fig. 3.

Trend in Employees

30000
25000
Employees

20000
15000
10000
5000
0
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Year
Construction Units Operating Units

Fig. 4.
50 Proceedings of National Symposium on Industrial and Fire Safety – 2006

Trend in Man Hours Worked

90000000
80000000
Man Hours Worked

70000000
60000000
50000000
40000000
30000000
20000000
10000000
0
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Year
Projects under construction Operating Units

Fig. 5.
It is found that the number of injuries, fatalities, man-days lost, number of
employees and man hours worked are comparatively higher at the construction
activities than operating units.
Number of fatalities and man-days lost are at around 8 times more at
construction sites than operating units in 8 years period. Hence, this possess a great
challenge to industrial safety at construction sites
Overall injuries, fatalities and man-days lost are in decreasing trend in this
8 year period in operating units. However, overall injuries, fatalities and man-days
lost are in increasing trend at construction units.
During the period of 8 years, 88.98% employees are increased at construction sites,
whereas 27.87% employees are increased at operating units. This indicates that there is
three fold increase in employees at construction units than operating units.
As the number of employees are increased the Man Hours Worked (MHW) are also
increased from about 2 crores to 8.5 crores at construction sites and from about 2.5 crores
to 3 crores at operating units. At present, Man Hours Worked are 2.85 times more at projects
under construction as compared to operating units.
On an average every year one lost time injury takes place amongst 475 employees at
construction activities and amongst 875 employees at Operating units.
Present Status and Improvement of Industrial Safety at Construction Sites 51

4. Concept on “Foundation for Fatality (Major Injury) among Minor


Injuries” at Operating Units and Construction Units of Power
Generating Atomic Energy Installations
It was felt necessary to study and correlate the significance of the minor injury with
respect to the occurrence of major injury. Exhaustive data with regard to first aid injuries
and near miss incidents is not available. The compiled data on minor injuries (lost time
or reported injuries) and major injuries (fatalities) that occurred at construction sites &
operating units of power generating atomic energy installations for the last eight years
period was available as indicated in Table No.1.
Efforts were made to establish the relationship between Minor Injuries & Major Injuries.
From the data it is seen that 3 fatalities occurred among 105 lost time injuries / reported
injuries at operating units, which reveals that on an average 35 minor injuries (lost time
or reported injuries) have laid down the foundation for 1 fatality (major injury) at operating
units. However, at construction units, 26 fatalities occurred among 288 lost time injuries
/ reported injuries, which reveals that on an average 11 minor injuries (lost time or reported
injuries) have laid down foundation for 1 fatality (major injury) at construction units. This
relationship is described in following figures A, B and C.

Major Injuries Major Injuries


26 3

288 105
Minor Injuries Minor Injuries
(A) (B)
Construction Units Operating Units

Construction Operating
Units Units
11 1 35
Minor Injuries Fatal Minor Injuries

(C)

Fig. 7. Foundation for fatality


52 Proceedings of National Symposium on Industrial and Fire Safety – 2006

Number of injuries at operating units are less as compared to construction activities


because of following major aspects :
- Well established operating or manufacturing systems
- Adequate, qualified and properly trained manpower
- Involvement of management & their commitment at all levels (Top, Middle and Lower
Management).
Number of injuries and subsequent fatalities at construction sites are more as compared
to operating units because of following major reasons :
- Dynamic work situations & make-shift work practices
- Inadequate, unskilled and improperly trained manpower
- Because of inadequate and improper supervision there is less involvement & commitment
of middle and lower management
- Lack of proper coordination and communication between the departmental & contractors
personnel.
- Three fold increase in manpower at construction sites.
5. Comparison of Types of Accidents at Construction Sites of Power
Generating Atomic Energy Installations
Table 2

Type of Accidents at
Construction Sites 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Total
Fall of Person 12 10 14 10 16 10 17 89
Fall of Object 1 15 14 14 11 9 9 73
Struck by Object 9 9 14 9 8 4 2 55
Caught in or between Object 2 6 4 4 5 4 2 27
Over-exertion or wrong
Movement 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2
Exposure to Extreme
Temperature 3 2 1 0 2 3 0 11

Exposure to Electricity 2 2 0 0 3 1 5 13
Exposure to Harmful Substance 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 4
Explosion 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1

Total 30 46 49 37 45 33 35 275
Present Status and Improvement of Industrial Safety at Construction Sites 53

Type of Accidents

18
16
14
12
Injuries

10
8
6
4
2
0
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Year

Fall of Person Fall of Object


Struck by Object Caught in or between Object

Fig. 8.
Study of injury statistics on construction sites for seven years from 1999 to 2005 shows
that number of injuries and subsequent severity of these injuries resulted in
fatalities because of majority of injuries are due to fall of persons and fall of
objects from height. Out of 275 injuries 89 injuries (32%) are due to fall of persons and
73 injuries (26%) are due to fall of objects. This clearly indicates that much more
concentration and attention is required towards working at height to control subsequent
injuries & their severity. Other types of accidents leading to injuries are struck by objects
(20%), caught in or between object (10%), exposure to electricity (5%) and exposure to
extreme temperature (4%) etc.

6. Suggestions for Improvement in Safety Management & Engineering


of Working Areas
During regulatory inspections we had visited many construction sites and observed
some generic and specific inadequacies in safety management & engineering practices at
different working areas. Based on some major and frequently observed unsafe conditions
and unsafe acts, following suggestions are highlighted to control the injuries and
consequences like fatalities, man-days lost to improve the industrial safety status at
construction sites.
6.1 Safety Organization & Management Commitments
6.1.1 Construction site should have adequate and qualified Safety Officers & Safety
Supervisors for their work.
54 Proceedings of National Symposium on Industrial and Fire Safety – 2006

6.1.2 Workers participation in safety management should be encouraged by constitution


of the Sectional Safety Committees for all Sections. The committees shall meet
once in month to discuss and ensure health and safety of all employees and the
neighborhood.
6.1.3 Specific works like working at height, work at confined spaces, electrical works
etc. should be controlled by Safety Work Permit system.
6.1.4 Good engineering practices like Job Hazard Analysis should be carried out for
specific & selected activities. Such practices should be followed at various work
areas.
6.2 Industrial Hazard Control
6.2.1 As the maximum number of injuries at construction activities are due to fall of
persons, fall of objects and struck by object, the personal protective equipment such
as safety belt, helmet and safety shoes should be provided to all employees and
their use should be strictly enforced by administrative measure.
6.2.2 All potentially dangerous & rotating parts such as flywheels of stone crushers and
the rollers of the belt conveyors in the batching plant should be adequately guarded
to prevent trapping of body parts / clothing of working personnel.
6.2.3 Floor opening should be either properly covered or provided with guard railing
around it. Arrangement of rod bending facility and extreme end points of floor
opening at higher elevation from where there is possibility of fall of persons should
be provided with adequate guard railing. Considering the fall height provisions such
as safety belt, nylon net, working platform with proper width should be enforced
at the working at height.
6.2.4 Proper access should be provided for scaffolds and ladders used at various working
areas. All scaffolds before use shall be examined by the Engineer-In-Charge of
construction activities. Ladders should be qualified with the statutory requirements
and should be inspected regularly and repaired immediately. No ladder with
defective or missing rungs shall be used.
6.2.5 During the excavation proper shoring and bracing should be done to prevent sliding
of excavated material over the persons working in the deep trench. Excavated
trenches should be properly barricaded.
6.3 Fire Hazard Control
6.3.1 An approved fire fighting & protection system should be decided upon and installed
as the construction activities go on progressing.
6.3.2 Hot work should be controlled and carried out only with proper safety precautions.
6.3.3 Welding cable shall be in good condition. It shall not lie on wet surface nor shall
it pass through water or across the passage.
6.3.4 All gas cylinders should be provided with protective cap to their valves and proper
chaining arrangement. Pressure gauges of the cylinders should be in healthy
condition.
Present Status and Improvement of Industrial Safety at Construction Sites 55

6.3.5 Sufficient number of fire extinguishers shall be placed at strategic points. The
testing of fire extinguishers should be done periodically to ensure that the
extinguishers are in usable condition.
6.4 Industrial Hygiene & Occupational Health
6.4.1 High noise areas should be identified and noise level measurement should be carried
out periodically for such areas. Proper engineering measures, if possible, should
be implemented to bring down the noise at appropriate & acceptable levels. Use
of suitable PPE such as earplugs and earmuffs should strictly be enforced in these
areas to minimise the impact of high noise level.
6.4.2 The measurement of illumination level should be carried out periodically at various
working areas and adequately improved. Person should not be allowed to work at
a place having total darkness.
6.4.3 Adequate ventilation shall be provided at confined spaces & various work areas
where there are chances of fumes/dusts being gathered. However, work at confined
spaces should be carried out under the Safety Work Permit system.
6.4.4 First aid centre should be adequately manned & functional during the working
hours at the construction sites. It should be equipped with an oxygen cylinders,
ambulance, emergency light, stretchers etc.
6.5 Management of Training & Supervision
6.5.1 Systematic and well organised training programme on industrial safety, fire safety
& first aid should be available to cater needs of all categories of workers. Due
consideration should be given on the training and supervision of contract workers
who are unskilled and illiterate through pre-job briefings for better communication
between the supervisors and workers about the job instructions, job hazards and
safety measures to be taken.
6.6 Safety in Material Handling
6.6.1 No lifting machine shall be taken in to use unless it has been tested and all parts
have been thoroughly examined by a Competent Person. This will help in finding
out design & installation defects in the lifting machine such as rubbing of ropes
against any other parts of lifting machine, mechanical locking arrangement between
the rail track and the wheel sets of the tower cranes etc.
6.6.2 Thorough inspection & load testing of the tower cranes, mobile cranes and EOT
crane should be done by a Competent Person at least once in every twelve months
and this record should be maintained properly.
6.6.3 Some times dumpers filled with stones are unloaded in the feed hoppers in reverse
direction hitting the guard plate to create jerk on dumpers. The practice of hitting
the guard plate in reverse to unload the dumpers fully should be discontinued.
Proper engineering design and methods should be applied for unloading the dumpers
in the feed hopper area of primary crusher. Path of earth moving machinery should
be assessed prior to deployment for use.
56 Proceedings of National Symposium on Industrial and Fire Safety – 2006

6.6.4 Only authorised persons who are well trained and experienced in operation shall
operate cranes. Except operator, no other person should be allowed to sit on the
forklift, as there is no designed provision for sitting other than driver. Checklist
for checking the vehicle condition and healthiness should be prepared and followed.
6.6.5 A mobile crane should be operated so that none of its parts can approach live electric
lines closer than 3m. Suitable barricading arrangement should be made at both
the sides of such electric lines for the safe access of the mobile cranes at such places.
6.7 Electrical Safety Aspects
6.7.1 Proper approach should be provided to the electrical panels and rubber mats should
be provided in front of them. Provision of first aid fire fighting equipment like CO2
or dry powder extinguishers shall be made available at electrical equipments.
6.7.2 Clearance for the temporary electric wiring shall be obtained from the Competent
Person. Electrical wires / cables shall be properly dressed and adequately protected
when laid on floor which may have to be crossed over by construction machinery
or by workmen. The cable trenches shall be covered with non-combustible materials
or barricaded properly.
6.7.3 Earth leakage protective devices such as ELCB or earth fault relay should be
connected in the electrical installation.
6.7.4 Emergency pull cord and stop switches should be provided to all the conveyor
systems used in the batching plant.
6.7.5 Adequate emergency lighting arrangements either fixed or portable should be
provided for all the working areas at the construction site at night to facilitate
safe access to workers to approach and leave the work area.
6.7.6 Periodic inspection and maintenance should be carried out for the portable power
tools for electrical insulation, earthing and integrity etc. Damaged / improperly
assembled portable power tools should not be used by the persons. It should be
ensured that all the tools used by their workmen are safe to use.
6.7.7 Persons working on electrical supply line or apparatus should be authorised by
Competent Authority.
7. Conclusion
The construction safety has been the cause and concern to the developing countries.
It was found that the numbers of injuries resulting into fatalities are comparatively higher
at the construction activities. It is observed that one lost time injury takes place amongst
475 employees working at construction sites and amongst 875 employees working at
operating units. Number of fatalities and man-days lost are at around 8 times more at
construction sites than operating units.
Our concept on “Foundation for Fatality (Major Injury) among Minor Injuries” reveals
that 35 minor injuries (lost time or reported injuries) have laid foundation of 1 fatality
(major injury) at operating units and 11 minor injuries (lost time or reported injuries) have
laid foundation of 1 fatality (major injury) at construction units. Let us not forget that
minor injuries set a foundation for a major injury.
Present Status and Improvement of Industrial Safety at Construction Sites 57

It is evident that fall of persons & objects from height are the major contributors for
the injuries and higher severity. It can be interpreted that hazardous conditions are
generated due to unsafe working conditions & practices followed while working at height.
Meticulously planned and organized safety activities are the backbone to prevent and control
work place hazards. Top management and line management should be committed to ensure
safe working conditions and practices.
Efforts of constructor and the regulator should go hand in hand, in inculcating safe
working culture. We hope that if the precautions highlighted in this paper are taken care
of and the suggestions to control the injuries, subsequent fatalities and man-days lost are
followed then present status of industrial safety at construction sites will certainly be
improved.
8. References
[1] Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions
of Service) Act, 1996 (BOCWA, 1996)
[2] Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions
of Service) Rules, 1998 (BOCWR)
[3] The Factories Act, 1948 (as amended in 1987)
[4] Atomic Energy (Factories) Rules, 1996.
[5] Chairman, AERB’s Notification issued on November 29, 2004 specifying minimum
safety precautions needed at any plant or site.
[6] The Indian Electricity Act, 2003
[7] The Indian Electricity Rules, 2005
[8] The Gas Cylinder Rules, 2004
[9] Regulatory Inspection Reports of AERB
[10] Industrial Safety Statistics Reports of Department of Atomic Energy Units from 1998
to 2005
[11] “Industrial Safety Chronicle” (Vol.No.XXXVI January – March 2006) published by the
National Safety Council.

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