Sample Essay on Risk Management

Risk Management

Introduction

Building construction in the contemporary world is one of the most sophisticated jobs. It involves a lot of organization right from the firms that manufacture contrition materials and systems, the craftsmen who gather them at the construction site, the contractors who employ and harmonize the work of the craftsmen, and consultants who specialize in such aspects as construction management to quality control and insurance (Kirby & Llácer, 2012). One aspect of today’s building construction and especially commercial building is that it involves heights. Essentially, construction workers involved in erecting these tall buildings are exposed to a number of risks including potential fall from heights, hand tools injuries, being struck by falling objects, risks of moving heavy loads, slips and trips, and exposure to radiation among others.

I remember a certain day when we were working in a construction site of a 10 story building when two of our colleagues fell from the roof slab only to lose their lives. After careful scrutiny of the cause of the fall, it was realized that the timber scaffolds was actually defective and due to the overweight from accumulated debris and building materials and tools coupled with tools, the working platform had grown weak and could not withstand the heavy weight. Falls from heights in housing construction are very fatal and even though nobody ever thinks that they could be a victim, they happen accidentally when everybody least expected them (McCurley, 2013). Because the building was nowhere close to completion, the contractor decided to mobilize his team to install a number of risk management measures to prevent further falls including the use of metal scaffolds, fall-arrest systems, and ropes among others. Therefore, this essay presents a report that reflects on the quality of the risk management that was utilized to prevent falls at the construction site through critical thinking.

Metal Scaffolds   

                 Scaffolds are common safety measures used to provide a safety platform for construction workers at height. There are two different types of scaffolds that can be used at a construction site depending on the materials used. One of the traditional materials used to make scaffolds is timber made from hard wood. The other material used is metal and such scaffolds are called metal scaffolds. Unlike timber scaffolds, metal scaffolds are robust, can withstand heavy weights, and are not easily compromised by the weather such as rainfall (Hislop, 1999).

After the incident that led to the loss of two of our colleagues, the timber scaffolds, which were identified to have provided medium duty working platform could not withstand heavy building materials and at the same time support the weight of the workers. However, with the installation of metal scaffolds, the metals provided heavy-duty working platform that could support heavy weight and at the same time allow easy movement of workers. The working platform of the metal scaffold was made in a way that it could withstand heavy weights and the fact that the debris were removed every now and then, the risk of falling was reduced significantly. The scaffolds remained leveled and plumbed all the time and all construction workers were informed about all the loads that the scaffold can and cannot support. Besides, the working platform was always kept clear of debris and any other impediments along their span. This ensured that any unnecessary weight was cut off to maintain the firmness of the scaffolds. There was a routine check on the state of the scaffold before and after work to ensure that all the defected or loose castors were replaced and fixed respectively.

Fall-Arrest Systems    

Even though the project was completed successfully without any case of a fall after the previous incident, I believe that the installation of fall-arrest systems was a crucial risk management strategy. These systems were not primarily installed to reduce the risk rather they were installed to reduce the impact of the risk in case there was a fall. Essentially, fall-arrest systems are installed to reduce the severity of injuries sustained from a fall victim in a construction site (Gladden, 2012). These fall arrest systems included safety nets and individual fall-arrest systems. Individual fall-arrest systems were also installed for the sake of arresting a falling worker unharmed and reduce the impact of the drop. However, due to the fear of susceptibility of workers to tripping more safety was ensured when safety nets were installed. These nets allowed workers to move freely without fear and enhance the speed with which work was done because workers felt protected unlike before. The nets were of high quality made from strong materials with enough tension and clearance to support and withstand the impact of falling weights of up to 150 kg. The safety nets helped to eliminate casualties of falling debris as well as construction materials and tool a fact that ensured the safety of workers working from the levels below others. Suspended safety nets were often cleared of any accumulated materials and debris to prevent weakening of the nets and ensure their strength and effectiveness (Osipova & Eriksson, 2013). However, there was fear of defection and damage to the nets due to continuous exposure to the sun, which could have possible weakened them. Therefore, to avoid this, the safety nets were regular checked and replaced to ensure continuous safety. The fall arrest systems were also replaced after a short while and proper maintenance and care was encouraged to make sure that the system remained efficient.

Rope Access System

Working on ropes is a risk management strategy that helps to reduce the risk of falling workers especially those working at heights. All the construction workers working at heights were required to wear ropes around their waists to prevent them from falling and allow them to easily move up and down the building. The use of rope access systems was identified as a crucial risk management approach to allow workers complete their work more efficiently in areas where the use of scaffolds was not possible. These rope access systems allowed workers to ascend, descend, and move across to work in certain areas that were considered dangers in such a way that workers could easily fall (McCurley, 2013). In case of an unlikely failure of the primary support of the ropes, the fall arrest systems were also essential in such a scenario. Two ropes were actually used in this system whereby one was used for working and the other primarily for safety purpose. It should be noted that workers who were working on the ropes had two attachments and each attachment had a separate and independent anchorage point to ensure strong support. In addition, in order to avoid causing any harm to workers working below, all the equipment and tools were strongly fastened by lanyards to the worker’s sit harness. Besides, before the workers were allowed to work on ropes to move up and down as well as across, they were assessed and proper inspection of the ropes was done on regular basis to ensure that the ropes were always in perfect condition for work. Besides, each worker had their head helmets on to avoid severe head injuries in case of a fall or in case a worker knocks their head on something while working.

Covers for Holes

                             When buildings are under construction, they normally have temporary holes or openings that pose serious threats to the construction workers. These temporary holes occur on the working surfaces where workers move around while working and can easily fall through these holes. To avoid such an ugly scene, we came up with a simple and efficient way whereby we installed firm covers on these holes. The covers were strong and rigid in such a way that they could easily support double the greatest probable mass of workers, materials, and equipment (Hislop, 1999). The covers were usually secured through the use of locks both during and after work to avoid possible displacement or theft. Besides, these covers were painted with a red paint and written with two words “Danger Hole” in a bid to keep the workers away from putting any heavy weight or carelessly standing on them to avoid damage. Just like in any other safety measures, these covers were regularly checked and maintained to avoid any accident. Warning lines were also strategically placed to inform workers on several dangerous surfaces where workers could easily trip and fall and because the project involved many workers, these safety lines played a crucial role in providing safety directions to remind workers every time while at work.

Slide-guard System

The fact that the building had a sloped roof, workers could easily fall if no efforts were made to prevent this. A slide-guard system was installed to prevent workers from sliding and falling down. The system was made up of several roof brackets and a slide guard, which were installed under close supervision and was frequently checked and maintained until the roofing work was completed successfully (Kirby & Llácer, 2012). The slide guard system was also installed in along sloped surfaces other than the roof to provide proper safety measures against the risk of falling among workers. The system was regularly checked and maintained and workers remained vigilant on every step they made mainly to avoid instances where they could easily fall off.

Training

Safety measures at any construction site may be hard to adhere to for all workers and some are may even be hard to understand. Therefore, training of workers concerning safety measures is crucial in a bid to inform the workers on every detail concerning their safety while at work. Building construction exposes workers to numerous hazards and every worker should be aware of these perils to be able to take care of themselves as well as take care of their fellow worker (Osipova & Eriksson, 2013). In this case, the training primarily aimed at educating workers about the risk of falling after the loss of a colleague. This was very essential especially to inform them concerning the nitty grittties of construction that involves heights. Workers were trained about safe practice involving all the safety measures that were installed but more importantly, workers taught about how to identify the falling risks and how to protect themselves from falling. Workers were trained on the appropriate procedures for erecting, using, and maintaining fall-protection systems as well as all made to understand how to take care of themselves and others to keep them away from falling (Gladden, 2012).

Conclusion

In conclusion working at heights is very risky in terms of high susceptibility of falling, which is normally severe due to injuries sustained. Falling may also lead to death especially when there are no safety measures installed. This report details several risk management approaches in relation to prevention of falling among construction workers at the construction site because of the heights involved. The report highlights several safety measures that were undertaken in my previous construction project after the loss of two colleagues including the use of strong metal scaffolds, installation of fall arrest systems, rope access systems, covers for holes, and slide guard systems. These safety measures against potential falls for workers working at heights required proper training that involved proper documentation and paper work as well as practical demonstration in a bid to ensure that all the workers were able to protect themselves as well as take care of their co-workers. Indeed, the foregoing discussion unravels that safety measures are very crucial at any construction site and proper care and caution should be taken at all levels to avoid possible injuries or loss of lives. Doing so can significantly minimize falling risks as well as reduce huge expenses that accompany the aftermath of such accidents.

Reference List

Gladden, R. (2012). The Project Risk Maturity Model: Measuring and Improving Risk Management Capability. Project Management Journal , 101.

Hislop, R. D. (1999). Construction Site Safety: A Guide for Managing Contractors. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.

Kirby, J. M., & Llácer, E. D. (2012). The essential Guide to Construction Management & Building Engineering. Alicante, Spain: Editorial Club Universitario.

McCurley, L. (2013). Falls from Height: A Guide to Rescue Planning. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Osipova, E., & Eriksson, P.-E. (2013). Balancing control and flexibility in joint risk management: Lessons learned from two construction projects. International Journal of Project Management , 391-399.