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

LORRY SHEETING ARRANGEMENTS PROVED FATAL

Driver fell 4m to death during unsafe un-sheeting of lorry

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 16th November 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 15th NOV 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 16th November 2017

NEW CPA GUIDANCE ON FORWARD TIPPING DUMPERS

Industry aims to help prevent overturns and collision with workers

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 13th November 2017

DEMOLITION WORKER LOST BALANCE IN FATAL FALL

Lack of measures in place to prevent fall from mezzanine floor

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 13th November 2017

GROUNDWORKER SET ON FIRE BY CABLE STRIKE

RAMS requirement for underground service checks not followed

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 13th November 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 8th NOV 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 9th November 2017

RARE SUPPLIER PROSECUTION OVER FATAL CRUSHING

Vehicle manufacturer design and unsafe user practice caused death

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 9th November 2017

ASBESTOS SURVEY FAILED TO COVER ALL WORK AREAS

Utilities firm fined after electricians exposed to drilled asbestos

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 8th November 2017

METAL GRID FELL FROM FLT DURING PAINTING

Steel fabricator could have used sling to safely suspend grids

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th November 2017

DRIVER ESCAPES WITH LIFE AFTER POWER STRIKE

Director given suspended sentence over lorry 132kV line contact

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th November 2017

SCAFFOLDER FELL ON TEMPORARY ROOF WORKS

Injured workman lacked training and fall arrest equipment

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th November 2017

FALLING CONTROL PANEL CRUSHED WORKMAN

Planning lacking on how to safely move heavy electrical equipment

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th November 2017

POWER DOOR INSTALLER JAILED FOR THREE YEARS

Falling electrically powered gate claimed life of resident

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 3rd November 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 2nd NOV 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 2nd November 2017

STEEL FIRM REMOVED BAND SAW SAFETY GUARD

Leg of worker crushed in the vice of an industrial band saw

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 2nd November 2017

WORKMAN FELL AFTER RAIL REMOVED FOR ACCESS

Small builder failed to allow for missing guard-rail

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 2nd November 2017

FINES RISE RAPIDLY ALONGSIDE HARM TO HEALTH

hselogo1HSE confirm lowest number of construction fatalities on record

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 2nd November 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE OCT 25th 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 25th October 2017

GIRDERS FELL DURING UNSAFE USE OF DEMO PLANT

Workman crushed and trapped by steel moved by company MD

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 25th October 2017

FRAGILE ROOFLIGHT HAZARD LEFT UNCONTROLLED

Principal Contractor failed ensure covers or effective scaffolding installed

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 25th October 2017

WORKING PLATFORM FELL FROM TELEHANDLER

Manufacturer instructions for safe platform attachment not followed

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 25th October 2017

MAJOR CONTRACTOR FINED £640K OVER CO RISK

Simple marking required to control carbon monoxide gas

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 23rd October 2017

PRISON TERM FOR SOLE TRADER CONTRACTOR

Small contractor pays the price for failing to manage work at height hazards

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 19th October 2017

WORKMAN FELL THROUGH ROOF OPENING

Waterproof membrane concealed conservatory roof hazard

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 19th October 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 18th OCT 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 19th October 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 […]