Health and Safety on site: A Site Engineer’s Perspective
In support of UK health and safety week this week, REC Geo-Environmental Consultant Marc Roberts, tells us about his role and the importance of health and safety out on site. Based in REC’s southern office, one of Marc’s key responsibilities is managing ground investigations and ensuring that everyone goes home safely at the end of the day.
“From a site engineer’s perspective, health and safety is our main priority on site. Arriving on site early, I always take time to survey the site area and work out a safe way to set up fencing if applicable, as well as establish suitable places for the first aid kits etc. When everyone has arrived on site, including clients and contractors, I complete a full induction that covers; site investigation aims, site procedures and any access constraints, as well as health and safety aspects to be aware of and risk mitigation.
One of the biggest health and safety constraints we face as engineers, is accurately locating any underground services, which we address by carrying out underground radar mapping before issuing on-site contractors permits to dig. Not adhering to such procedures can be fatal, and there have been several, well-recorded underground services incidents where workers have suffered because of this; for example, those who were subjected to severe burns by mistakenly drilled through an 11,000 volt cable at the House of Lords in 2015. However, beyond the obvious serious health implications, such occurrences can also lead to delays on site and sometimes affect surrounding areas. This can incur additional costs and further health and safety hazards, which is why it’s crucial that any underground services are pinpointed prior to work beginning on site, as well as ensuring health and safety procedures are upheld throughout the project.
Other constraints that we often have to take into consideration are:
- Working near busy roads – we ensure that all workers work within fence lines and highlight the specific importance of wearing hi-viz jackets.
- Working indoors – we highlight the importance of ear defenders and hard hats, as well as provide dust masks if dust is anticipated.
- Hot weather – we encourage everyone to drink plenty of water, apply sun cream and take sufficient breaks in shaded areas.
It is also my duty as a first aider on site to point out the location of first aid kits and the nearest A&E department, as well as being made aware of anyone’s medical conditions before proceeding. I also ensure that everyone on site wears the correct PPE at all times. Health and safety is not always so obvious, however. It is as just much my responsibility to maintain morale and motivation within a team as it is to maintain health and safety standards. Making sure that staff are happy with the job at hand, results in the team not only being more engaged, but makes our processes more efficient, as well as my job more rewarding in the long run.”