HEALTH AND SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE BUILDING PHASE OF PROJECTS NEED TO PERMEATE THE ENTIRE CONSTRUCTION SUPPLY CHAIN, ACCORDING TO A RECENT PREFABNZ WEBINAR.
Andrew Confait, Group Manager – Customer Strategy & Support at Site Safe NZ, has spent more than 20 years working in the health and safety industry in Australia and New Zealand. A recent PrefabNZ Innovation Bites webinar saw him explain the importance of leadership, and an organisational culture of open communication and collaboration in applying health and safety considerations to both offsite and onsite contexts.
Confait says a key consideration for good health and safety outcomes in both offsite and onsite contexts, is that they should play right through the supply chain. In construction not all workers are from one organisation, which becomes problematic because each of those companies is contracting to a tier one company, creating subcultures within subcultures. There is a need to start talking about a one team approach, and about better communication and planning from staff.
Typically practitioners in the building industry look at how they procure contractors meaningfully around health and safety, he says, and very rarely people calculate the cost of an incident or an accident on projects. But with a pre-qualification the aim is to have everyone taking responsibility for safety; not just management of the supply chain, but also the people who are doing the work being included in the conversation.
He adds that a shift is needed to encourage everyone to take a collaborative approach, which should flow right through the organisation and transfer into the workplace. Planning the organisation’s culture is key.
“Good collaboration is about how we can get productivity flowing into a business. The more those organisations can engage with people, the more staff will become engaged, therefore the more they feel part of the solution… and everyone goes home safely.”
Confait emphasises that in the design phase, site management needs to consider the reduction of risk by designing sites that are easily built, for example reducing working at height. Subcontractors and their workers also need to be engaged in this process.
“You’ll find that probably two years of work has gone in prior to the actual build. Into designing, consenting, iterations, procuring contractors and pricing. Through that whole phase of design, health and safety should be considered,” he says, adding that the Work Safe pan industry guide, ‘Introduction To Safety in Design’ is recommended reading.
“You’ll find that probably two years of work has gone in prior to the actual build. Into designing, consenting, iterations, procuring contractors and pricing. Through that whole phase of design, health and safety should be considered.”Andrew Confait, Group Manager – Customer Strategy & Support, Site Safe NZ.
He adds that it’s important to clearly define safety expectations, not only in the contractual process or during the procurement process, but transferring that information across the workforce.
Another key goal is to arrive at a consistent approach across the sector. In the health and safety space, there are many groups working towards a common goal but not necessarily talking to each other. “There are some real challenges in the construction space in terms of consistency. What Site Safe is doing is getting 20-plus CEOs together and creating standards for the sector so that it’s a consistent approach through the supply chain and they can price for it”.
In conclusion, health and safety are about looking at the environment where work is taking place, onsite or offsite, and considering the risk from start to finish, Confait says. It is much easier performing some operations safely in a controlled environment that’s clean and protected from weather.
“But it’s not about comparing offsite safety with onsite safety. It depends on the values, the culture and the behaviour of an organisation,” he says. It comes down to how the leadership of an organisation is demonstrating the importance of health and safety to them.■