In this edition Peter Ferguson talks about the importance of putting safety first. Peter is a height safety expert and founder of the Industrial Rope Access Association, now known as the Australian Rope Access Association. Last month, Peter was awarded the 2010 WorkSafe Outstanding Contribution to Health and Safety Award.
Safety is not a tack on!
In my role as a consultant I see too many cases of somebody calling for assistance at an advanced stage of design or construction. Invariably, because of my background, it’s to provide ‘safe access’ to a roof, façade, atrium or some other building element.
Far too many people see provision for maintenance and/or the safety of workers during construction as an afterthought – something you add once the design or construction is nearly finished.
It’s not that hard!
Invariably, when safety gets ‘tacked on’, it ends up as a very poor compromise because it’s not integrated into the design or the culture.
A culture of safety that starts at the beginning of the design and finishes when the building gets demolished will save everybody a lot of money and angst, and everyone gets to go home safely each day for the life of the building.
Building safety, integrated at design stage is invariably cheaper, more efficient and can provide passive safety for persons for the life of the building.
An example: Why install horizontal lifelines to the roof for gutter cleaning which will involve ongoing costs of training, supervision, re-certification, provision for rescue etc. when good design could have made access to the gutter passively safe without the need for all of this gear?
Access to the roof from inside the building is much better than an external temporary ladder. Protection from falls via extended parapets, permanent guardrails or re-positioning the gutters could make both construction and ongoing maintenance simpler, cheaper and safer!
Even flattening the roof pitch can counter many issues.
What’s your opinion of safety as a ‘tack on’?