Turner Access Higher Safety Total Access
Total Access Ethentic Chipmunk Data
Chipmunk Data Turner Access Ethentic

PREVENTING CATASTROPHIC EVENTS IN CONSTRUCTION

Report examines key corporate issues for industry leaders to address

HSE has published a report RR834 – Preventing catastrophic events in construction. The report examines the type of event, why they occur and how the probability of such incidents might be reduced.

‘Catastrophic Events’ are descibed as involving multiple casualties on and/or off-site or other gross impacts including serious disruption of infrastructure and/or services. In addition, such events may adversely affect organisations commercially and create public demand for action e.g. a public enquiry and/or changes to relevant legislation. 

Beyond the ordinary or routine

The report describes such events as “beyond the ordinary or routine …characterised by being of low probability but high consequence” and examples provided are:

  • Structural collapse of permanent structure;
  • Collapse of temporary works;
  • Collapse of plant or equipment, such as cranes;
  • Fire;
  • Tunnel collapse; and
  • Disruption of underground services.

In the chemical, oil and gas and the nuclear and rail industries, major hazard scenarios are required to be examined in depth. These potentially catastrophic events are sometimes referred to as ‘Top Events’. It is appreciated that they can have a disastrous impact on a company’s reputation and well-being and upon society. The process of examining the risk of a catastrophic event requires that a ‘safety case’ is prepared, based upon a safety risk assessment.

Report conclusion

It was clear that there have been ‘catastrophic events’ with major consequences in construction. Their importance is recognised by the industry, although the report considered that in their day-to-day work few people realised the severity of what might happen if things went seriously wrong. Examples of ‘catastrophic events’ are given in the report.

Catastrophic events in construction are real issues which require proper consideration by all stakeholders, led by directors and senior staff. There are opportunities for improvement of performance and all stakeholder groups should be involved in agreeing what should be done and making the necessary changes.

Issues requiring attention

Issue 1: The industry should recognise that catastrophic events need further attention

We found that Catastrophic Events are a significant cause for concern and have not received the attention they deserve. Accordingly they should be considered in an appropriate manner and preventative action should be taken as an inherent part of normal construction activity.

Issue 2: Corporate risk management systems should be improved

We found that many events had occurred which had significantly impacted at board level upon both construction organisations and upon clients. In order to respond to obligations imposed by legislation and The Turnbull Report, companies’ organisational risk management should include consideration of how well Catastrophic Event risks are being managed. The use of industry-relevant indicators should be explored to support such activity.

Issue 3: Knowledge, skills and experience of safety risk management should be raised

The case studies frequently demonstrated a failure among project personnel at all levels to adequately identify the full extent of hazards and address the risks arising; other sources demonstrated a considerable degree of uncertainty and a lack of confidence in the industry’s knowledge, skills and experience of safety risk management. This suggested that more emphasis needed to be given to:

  • Education of those who will be entering the industry
  • CPD and on-the-job training
  • Development of more effective safety risk management systems.

This issue offers the best promise for long-term incremental improvement and involves all stakeholders.

Issue 4: Communication and interface management should be improved

The research emphasised the need for effective communication about hazards and particularly the importance of effective management of risk at interfaces between and within organisations. The report explores areas where improvements can be made.

This issue underpins the improvement of performance in other issue topics and involves all stakeholders.

Issue 5: Competence is key

As expected, the issue of competence (which underpins CDM 2007) was seen to be important. In particular the competent fulfilment of the role of Principal Contractor on site was identified as central to avoiding Catastrophic Events in construction.

The industry should develop proposals for ensuring that inappropriate Principal Contractors (or more accurately inappropriate persons) do not become responsible for sites where there are risks which could lead to Catastrophic Events; all stakeholders need to be consulted on how this might be achieved.

Issue 6: Effective management of temporary works is crucial to success

It was apparent from many case studies that insufficient consideration was being given to the management of temporary works in its widest sense. This work must be taken seriously and include all temporary works aspects, including issues relating to cranes and scaffolding.

The potential impact of failures of temporary works needs to be considered carefully to reduce the likelihood of a Catastrophic Event occurring and the industry needs to seek to improve performance in this vital area. All stakeholders should be consulted on how to achieve this improvement.

Issue 7: Independent reviews should be employed

Evidence was found that the effective use of independent review, from an early stage and ongoing, would have reduced the risk of a catastrophic event.

Evidence was also found of projects where there was inadequate independent review of what was happening on site and there was concern in the industry that levels of effective supervision had been stripped away over recent decades.

These issues need to be explored further and encouragement given for clients to seek independent authoritative advice.

Issue 8: The industry should learn from experience

Learning from experiences was not found to be well-rooted in the industry. There was lack of confidence that:

  • Learning was shared rapidly;
  • Lessons were incorporated into the education and training process; and
  • Information could be easily accessed.

There was however activity which needed to be encouraged and supported:

  • The work of SCOSS and CROSS (which needs to be more widely appreciated and publicised); and
  • The work of the various industry bodies and groupings that provide guidance. Ways to improve their effective performance should be investigated and their activities should be inclusive of all industry stakeholders.

Latest Construction Health and Safety News

REVERSING EXCAVATOR CRUSHED WORKMAN

Lack of management system to segregate pedestrians and vehicles

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 21st September 2017

CLIENT FINED £2.5 MILLION AFTER CONTRACTOR DEATH

Fatal fall through roof leaves client responsible for massive fine

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 21st September 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 20th SEPT 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 20th September 2017

NEW EDGE PROTECTION INSTALLATION TRAINING

Trade body launches CSCS backed edge protection installer qualification

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 18th September 2017

GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR ACTION ON ILL-HEALTH

Business leaders accept charge of inaction on work-related ill-health

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 18th September 2017

FIRM FAILED TO ENFORCE FORK LIFT SEAT BELT USE

Operator suffered fatal crush injuries after FLT overturned

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 18th September 2017

DIRECTOR AND FOREMAN JAILED OVER FATAL FALL

Failure to act on HSE advice ended in gross negligence manslaughter

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 18th September 2017

PRISON SENTENCE FOR ROOFING CONTRACTOR

Council H&S officers reported dangerous roof work to HSE

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 14th September 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 14th SEPT 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 14th September 2017

LADDER STANDARDS MOVE UP A RUNG OR TWO

Ladder Association guide to fundamental changes in ladder standard

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 12th September 2017

SILICA (RCS) DUST LIMIT – THE ONLY WAY IS DOWN?

US regulator cuts RCS exposure standard to half UK limit

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 12th September 2017

SAFE2TORCH – REDUCING FLAT ROOF FIRE RISK

Industry body seeks to reduce ‘torch’ triggered fires at design stage

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 8th September 2017

FIRM AND DIRECTOR SENTENCED OVER GAS RISK

Poorly planned extension prevented effective gas venting

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th September 2017

£1 MILLION CLIENT FINE FOLLOWS FATAL FALL

Electrician died after fall from step ladder provided by client

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th September 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 6th SEPT 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th September 2017

HAVS HEALTH CHECK PROMPTS HSE PROSECUTION

Assessment of vibration exposure and control measures found wanting

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th September 2017

HSE LUNG DISEASE SUMMIT TARGETS SILICA DUST (RCS)

Regulator starts major initiative on lung disease in construction

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 1st September 2017

HSE COST RECOVERY NOW “FULLY INDEPENDENT”

hselogo1New Fee for Intervention disputes procedure now in place

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 1st September 2017

CLIENT FINED AS CDM 2015 PRINCIPAL CONTRACTOR

Failure by client to appoint attracts PC duties by default

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 30th August 2017

JOINER PARALYSED AFTER FALL THROUGH JOISTS

Fall prevention and risk minimisation measures not taken

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 30th August 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 30th AUG 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 30th August 2017

COMPLAINT COSTS CONTRACTOR £145,000 IN FINES

HSE prosecute CDM 2015 Principal Contractor over risk without injury

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 29th August 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 23rd AUG 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 23rd August 2017

HSE CONSTRUCTION FATALITY RECORDS: Q1 2017/18

Latest HSE fatality records reveal four (4) deaths in first three months

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 23rd August 2017

HSE ON SILICA DUST (RCS): RISK MANAGEMENT UPDATE

New guidance available on key HSE Construction Sector priority

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 23rd August 2017
Turner Access Chipmunk Data
Total Access Ethentic
Higher Safety Turner Access

3 Responses to “PREVENTING CATASTROPHIC EVENTS IN CONSTRUCTION”

  1. FALSEWORK COLLAPSE DURING CONCRTE POUR IN NEW YORK | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] been no major UK falsework collapses in recent years. This incident highlights the potential for catastrophe in the absence of proper planning, erection, loading or dismantling […]

  2. SCOSS HIGHLIGHTS LESSONS FROM MAJOR STADIUM COLLAPSE | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] report pulls no punches and is a useful reminder of the catastrophic potential for injury always present during major construction projects. Many conclusions in the […]

  3. MANAGING RISKS WITH CATASTROPHIC POTENTIAL | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] potential in the construction sector. In February 2011 the findings were published in Contract Research Report RR834 – Preventing Catastrophic Events in […]