Safety in Construction and in Construction Engineering

Safety in Construction and in Construction Engineering

If one considers the management of the safety subject in an industrial plant to be a complex matter, in comparison the management of the safety issue on the construction site is much more complex. There are many reasons for this: while in factories for the most part an orderly conduct of the personnel and a fixed location of structures, equipment and machines is customary, self-evident and by and large undisputed, the reality on construction sites is quite often different and much more unpredictable and dynamic - where today there is a fence tomorrow could be the entrance, where today there is a clean passage tomorrow could be an open pit, and where no construction work is taking place at some construction stages, scaffolding and complex activity can take place in the next construction phase. In addition to these, the nature of personnel employed in construction work is often heavy on unskilled labor who accordingly earn quite low salaries - such combination stands often highly correlated to carelessness and to a contempt for safety.

This situation creates a high exposure state of risk to the real estate developers and construction companies, to their foremen, safety supervisors and in general to workers in the construction sector, in relation to safety laws and regulations. In order to determine who is responsible for safety in construction, safety regulations dealing with construction work ( Safety at Work Regulations (construction work), 1988) stipulate that whoever is responsible for the building process itself, the "construction operator" or the "construction entrepreneur", is under the obligation to appoint a foreman as a pre-condition for the very beginning of construction work. If things appear to be easy when looked upon superficially, in fact they really are a sort of "piece of cake" to break one's teeth on... In the reality of the construction business world, where contractors more often than not finish work in a different schedule than the one planned, and where it is not always clear who is currently performing the actual construction work, it should never be omitted that according to the regulations even those who merely commissioned the work could be considered to be the construction operators and thus the accountable factor.                                                                                                                                                             Suppose a construction site has more than one contractor (and usually this is the case), and the question arises - who among all the contractors is currently performing construction, and accordingly whose foreman must be on site and in any case carries the responsibility?                                                                            Does a construction site have to proclaim one particular foreman who is required to be exclusively responsible for safety assurance and who carries all responsibility? On any given  construction site, and especially on large and complex projects, at the same time a number of unrelated contractors may be there to work in the construction. Each contractor company has its own foreman, who runs in practice all professional aspects of the contractor's work.

However, when we refer to the safety regulations and in accordance with court decisions, we clearly find out that these  indicate that only one contractor may be appointed as a leading performer of the building construction on site, consequently only one foreman will carry responsibility and eventually report to the Labor Inspector as required by law, because the law requires only one address for responsibility on safety issues on site. As a result, there may be any number of managers working at a construction site, who work for contractors which are not in a position to be considered the "construction operator" on the construction site, working either for main contractors or for subcontractors, people who  have extensive experience as managers of work in engineering construction on a large scale, but may never even be considered for the task of being the safety supervisor foremen of the "construction operator".

Therefore, it is very important to distinguish between the construction site duties and powers vested in   the one foreman appointed as safety supervisor of the "construction operator" for all purposes of work safety on behalf of the building operation as a whole, and who therefore is responsible for the safety issue of the entire site, and the other foremen appointed by contractors or subcontractors in order to manage any other professional aspect of the project.

We are very familiar with the regulations and practice in the field of construction work and give legal support in preparing and drafting the vital safety appendices which have to be an integral part of any generic contract as well as safety appendixes for specific construction projects. These safety appendices have to be prepared in advance and have to be taken into account already in the early stages of contracting preparations, ready to be recognized and embedded in the earliest stages of preparation of tenders, or at the very least in the stage of preparing the contract. Early and timely management of legal risks in the area of safety in construction, can prevent situations when the client or the contractor of the construction job understands while already at work or in worse cases after the accident occurred that they are falling under the definition of "responsible entity" for the construction work site, without any intention to be in this position.