Safety Month - October < back to blog

Safety Month - October As we move out of the summer months and into autumn, work on construction sites ramp up and for many years October has been the month for a specific focus on Health and Safety.  The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) construction safety month theme in 2023 is Focus on Critical Risks.

The ACEI is fully supportive of this focus and similarly encourages all its members to consider how they can drive this message to all those they have contact with, who are involved in the construction industry. Some of the examples of critical risks identified by the CIF for focus are Safe Access & Egress, Safe Control of Hazardous Energies, Safe Use of Mobile Equipment, Safe Working at Height, and Safety by Example.

Most of the ACEI members are involved in the design of projects, a long time before the works commence on site and generally have very little control over the contractors’ health and safety measures that are implemented on site.  Nevertheless, we are aware that prior to commencement of the project on site, each of our design decisions have implications for the future and that the product of our designs cannot be unsafe or generate an unsafe situation either in the construction, operational or the maintenance phase.  As we all know, design is a creative process dedicated to solving a problem. The breadth of design that goes on across ACEI members is considerable. At every stage of design, from initial concept development, through visualising, engineering design, and construction, we are making decisions and choices that may have safety implications. We have a critical role to consider designing for safety and mitigating risks so that some critical risks never occur on the project and do not need to be addressed by the contractor.

Consider the following examples of critical risks:

  • Safe Access & Egress In the design stage has adequate space for safe access and egress to the site been provided for within the red line boundary.  For future maintenance of the project, is there a safe means to access the M&E plant for maintenance, facades for cleaning, underground tanks for inspection etc.
  • Safe Control of Hazardous Energies In the design stage have the location of existing electrical cables and gas mains been identified and has the design of the project avoided these or has the prior relocation of these services been considered to make the construction works safer.
  • Safe Use of Mobile Equipment In the design stage have measures for the control and separation of members of public passing the site been considered to lessen the potential interactions with mobile plant and equipment entering or leaving the site. 
  • Safe Working at Height In the design stage have parapets been included to mitigate the risk of falling from height when working on the roof.  Has prefabrication of elements been considered that can be lifted into place minimising the amount of construction works at height.
  • Safety by Example When visiting sites, are you aware of the potential risks on the site, and do you follow the contractor’s rules over behaviour, wearing PPE, sticking to defined walkways, to show by example to others on site that health and safety measure are important for all.  Do you raise concerns over any observed health and safety issues on the site to the contractor?

The ACEI regularly runs courses on Designing for Safety in Construction, and the Project Supervisor Design Process role to provide opportunity for those in the industry to be more aware of the positive impact they can have on health and safety on projects in the design process. 

The ACEI is currently developing a “Safety on Site” course primarily aimed at consultant engineers and other professionals who are required to visit construction sites on an occasional basis for surveying, monitoring or inspections. The objectives of the training are to:

  •       Recognise different types of sites and the general safety characteristics of each.
  •       Recognise common hazards on the various site types.
  •       Identify common controls typically implemented to mitigate those hazards.
  •       Implement methods to protect yourself from harm by those hazards.
  •       Effectively plan a site visit
  •       Prepare appropriately for your arrival at the site:
  •       Know what to do if you see something unsafe or witness an accident while onsite.  

This training aims to communicate the duties of employers and employees under the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 as they relate to an occasional visit to site, to keep employees safe when visiting sites and positively enhance health and safety measures on sites. Look out for the release of this training in the new year.

We would encourage all our members to have a particular focus on site safety in their workplaces during October and engage with the various events that the CIF and other organisations are providing. 

We would also encourage a focus on health aspects, taking care of mental health and wellbeing in particular as we head into the winter months. People are our greatest asset, and their wellbeing is crucial to the continued success of our industry. We all need to respond to the challenges of the workplace and our personal lives and achieve that elusive healthy work life balance. Encouraging a positive approach to managing and maintaining good mental and physical health and wellbeing for all is important.

Take care and stay safe.