Fatigue in construction is the phantom menace

 

The construction industry is a major engine of GDP worth around £100bn to the eocnomy every year and employing over two million people in the UK. However, it suffers more than many industries in terms of accidents and injury. 

The risk

With more than 43 fatal accidents in 2017 (four times more than the average across all industries) and over 5,000 non-fatal accidents, it is no wonder that this industry more than others is regarded as high risk.

Add to this the other 65,000 work related illness (stress, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory and skin conditions) and it is clear that health and safety needs to be embedded at every level of the organisation and especially integrated into the planning process.

”Local

Clearly there are unique and challenging circumstances with construction sites; the dynamic and changing environment and the lack of inherent infrastructure all combine to frustrate the best safety plans. What was safe yesterday may not be as safe today. An unoccupied area yesterday may be occupied today. Multiple activities concurrently taking place create varying risk each day.

Add to this “P&P” (Pressure & Penalties) which are now standard in the industry. If tight deadlines are not met there can be seriously damaging financial penalties and so a six or seven-day week and/or long hours for workers is commonplace. Little wonder then that injury rates are so high. But beyond the hard hats and high vis, what can be done to reduce this blight upon the industry?

The greatest enemy?

The first is the recognition that fatigue is one of your greatest enemies. Fatigue impairs your ability to process information, slows your reactions and decreases awareness and attention. In short, it reduces your ability to accurately estimate risk. In fact, 20% of major road incidents are the result of fatigue and many of the most publicised accidents (Exxon Valdez, Herald of Free Enterprise, Chernobyl, Clapham Junction, Texas City and Challenger) have been linked to tiredness.

To put it simply in many cases fatigue is a predictor (“lead” indicator) to an accident (“lag” indicator).

The maxim “you can’t prevent what you can’t predict” is very pertinent here. If you can understand the causes and drivers of accidents, such as fatigure, and you can assess likely fatigue in shifts/patterns, then you can reduce it and prevent the associated negative outcomes (accidents).

The second is to recognise that long hours/weeks are not the friend of tight deadlines but its nemesis. Accidents create downtime and lost productivity.They cause delays. However, because there is not a 100% correlation between fatigue and accidents, there is a tendency to roll the dice when pressure and deadlines encroach.

You cannot build an enduring business or industry upon this strategy. It is not a replicable/repeatable route to success. You may dodge the bullet more than most but sooner or later it will hit and may create not only contractual or financial strife but also long-term reputational damage.

A solution

One solution lies with new technology and software that ensures you have the right people in the right place at the right time with the right skills. These planning systems can build in sufficient periods of rest and cover for absence/training and holidays, so you can ensure both and safe and optimum levels of resource to meet deadlines without the need for overtime/extended work periods.

The benefit of planning effectively also delivers dividends through reducing fatigue, overtime costs, absence and accidents. Indeed, some solutions already have fatigue factors built into the system to reduce risk and provide assurance.

Another risk factor within construction sites is keeping track of who is on-site and where they are. Again, technology has come a long way with mobile apps, which allow supervisors to register staff on-site, fully self-sufficient clocking terminals that are solar/battery powered with 3G for data transit, and beacons/tags that allow the site manager to know exactly who has turned up and exactly where they are in real-time.

These solutions are the next generation “high visibility” tools allowing the site manager to know who is where without the need for line of site or audio contact.

If there is an situation or emergency, the site manager can instantly view the location and presence of his team and act immediately.

The ability to plan and track workers in real-time does not only reduce accidents but also provides a constant feed-back loop to enable planners to constantly improve based on outcomes. This process is not only critical to ensure health and safety but also though analysis, improve quality, productivity, delivery and reduce downtime, accidents and delay.

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
transport network jobs

CIVIL/STRUCTURAL ENGINEER

Torridge District Council
Up to £34,106 per annum plus relocation package up to £8,000
Looking for an experienced civil/structural engineer providing strategic feasibility and design advice to the authority Bideford, Devon
Recuriter: Torridge District Council

Highway Project Engineer

City of London
Up to £42,870 per annum (inclusive of London Weighting) depending upon performance.
The Department of Built Environment is responsible for the delivery of highway and drainage schemes within the City of London London (Central), London (Greater)
Recuriter: City of London

Graduate Transport Planner

Cambridgeshire County Council
£17,681 - £23,111
EXCITING GRADUATE OPPORTUNITY Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Engineer Maintenance

Liverpool City Council
£32,233 - £37,107
Liverpool City Council are looking to recruit an Engineer Maintenance Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Tree Services Programme Manager

Nottingham City Council
£37,107
You will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the Council's trees and woods, and will provide professional advice to others Woodthorpe, Nottingham
Recuriter: Nottingham City Council

Transport Coordinator

Camden London Borough Council
£32,473 to £37,670
We have an exciting opportunity for 2 highly customer focused Transport Coordinators to work in the busy Camden Transport Team. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Highway Electrical Supervisor (Highway Maintenance)

Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,657 to £28,221
The post will support two Senior Lighting Engineers in leading and contributing to the delivery of the Street Lighting function for the Authority Bootle, Merseyside
Recuriter: Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council

Flood Risk Management Engineer

London Borough of Bexley
£31,353 to £36,876
We are currently seeking a Flood Risk Management Engineer who will have a lead role with the Flood Risk and Development Team Bexley (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Senior Engineer (Traffic Signal Improvements)

Lincolnshire County Council
£34,106 - £38,052
This is a superb opportunity to lead, motivate and inspire our engineering team working on traffic signal improvement projects. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Senior Engineer (Traffic Signal System and Operations)

Lincolnshire County Council
£34,106 - £38,052
This is a superb opportunity to lead, motivate and inspire our engineering team working on traffic signal systems and operations. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal Engineer (Traffic Signals)

Lincolnshire County Council
£42,806 - £49,441
Do you want to lead, manage and motivate a team of engineers working at the cutting edge of technology? Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal Nuisance Control Officer

Brent Council
£38,040 - £40,086 p.a. inc. + £4,800 shift allowance p.a.
Salary range
Recuriter: Brent Council

Rights of Way Search Officer - Highways Services

Bridgend County Borough Council
£7,188 - £7,327 per annum
We are seeking someone to assist in maintaining, developing and promoting the Definitive Map for Bridgend Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recuriter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Countryside Access Maintenance Officer - Highways Services

Bridgend County Borough Council
£12,644 - £13,015 per annum
We are seeking someone to assist in ensuring that the local rights of way network is protected, well maintained and enjoyed... Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recuriter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Principal Transport Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£37,320 to £40,198
The role will require close dialogue with developers and their agents and necessitate strong partnership working with District Councils... Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Project Engineer

North Yorkshire County Council
up to £33,136
Are you a qualified Highways Project Engineer? Would you like to work in the famous James Herriot area of natural beauty? North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Highways Officer Highways and Transport

North Yorkshire County Council
£28,2281 p.a.
Are you someone who is looking to progress their career with one of the most highly regarded highway services in the country? North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Regional Strategy Officer

North Yorkshire County Council
Band 15 – up to £41,846
Are you an experienced Transport Planner? Do you have exceptional communication skills to build relationships within teams? North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Area Manager

North Yorkshire County Council
up to £53,113 p.a. winter allowance plus 10% one off additional payment for exceptional candidates
Four Area Highway Managers roles available York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Transport Planning Officer – Major Development Applications

Somerset County Council
£33,136 to £37,107
We have a fantastic opportunity in Somerset within our Highways Development Management team. Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council