Designing buildings – Designing safety
ISHCCO (International Safety and Health Construction Coordinators Organization) represents national bodies in Europe whose members are construction safety and health co-ordinators. . Wherever buildings are being built or maintained, the dangers and risks involved are the same on all building sites. Philip Baker’s speech focussed principally on the importance of integrating the safety and health of the users into the design of a building and of placing these elements in parallel with a series of other considerations (e.g., the cost of the implementation). Philip Baker referred to Directive 92/57/EEC of 24 June 1992 concerning the minimum safety and health requirements to be applied on temporary or mobile building sites, which is transposed in national legislation, regulations and guidelines in the EU countries. In particular, this directive concerns renovation, repair, maintenance and upkeep (painting and cleaning). The directive requires that health and safety aspects have to be integrated in the design phase of all construction work.
The examples of buildings for which safety has not been considered are numerous. Nevertheless, there are sometimes simple solutions (e.g., integration of harnessing rings on the facade of the building, installing a device for replacing a window pane from inside the building). Although these solutions exists, they are not always used. Why?
First, because installation of the protective equipment is often considered as a cost factor. The figures on accidents at work, nevertheless, indicate that the percentage of accidents that occur in the context of maintenance activities is high. According to the speaker, although investment in safety in the design phase costs more, in the long term it will enable the total costs to be reduced by lowering the costs generated by the whole of the maintenance activities.
Second, the designer considers that it is for the client to think about the safety of the building. He considers himself above all to be an artist. The very “design” facades are often problematic as regards safety. The simplest maintenance operation (replacing the putty on the windows) becomes risky. Moreover, the “safety” solutions (such as, for example, auto-cleaning windows) are not always aesthetic. The complexity of buildings also has an impact on maintenance, which itself becomes more complicated.
Most of the constructions involve risks for maintenance operations. An unsuitable design, for example, requires performing operations at dangerous heights (e.g., cleaning windows) that involve the risk of falling, of performing manual activities that involve a risk of electrocution or burning or even working in a confined space with the risk of asphyxiation or drowning. The use of certain materials like lead-based paint and asbestos is officially banned in EU, but they are still present in buildings and structures and workers might be exposed to them during maintenance works.
Philip Baker cites the example of a building in which the elevator does not permit the transport of heavy maintenance equipment and the example of rows of chairs fixed to the floor in front of large bay windows. To clean the windows, the chairs have to be dismantled or one has to climb on them. Nevertheless, choosing another installation of the chairs would have had no effect on the cost.
As solutions, Philip Baker proposes, for example, opting for finishing that needs no maintenance and designing safe accesses for the operators. Finally, he insists on the need of the safety coordinators “to prepare a file appropriate to the characteristics of the project containing relevant safety and health information to be taken into account during any subsequent works.” (Art. 5 of the Directive 92/57/EC).
Philip Baker stated that “Designers, working with preparation stage safety co-ordinators, through good design choices, can have a positive effect on maintenance workers’ wellbeing by 1. Eliminating maintenance activities; 2. Reducing maintenance activities; 3. Reducing the risks associated with maintenance activities ».Click here to hide the full text
|Resources and Attachments|
|Workshop 2 - Philip Baker.ppt|