Construction Safety Week – from October 25-29, 2021 – is an initiative of the CIF safety and health subcommittee, in conjunction with the event sponsors. The goal is to eliminate accidents at work and to drive continual improvement in safety and health performance.

The CIF is now calling on all construction companies, organisations and individuals working in construction (and in other sectors) to get involved in Construction Safety Week in 2021, to celebrate best practice, to reinforce and promote the importance of safety, health and overall wellbeing in work and in life.

Construction Safety Week 2021 is aligned with dates for European Safety Week 2021, the theme of which is 'Lighten the Load'. Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) remain a significant hazard, with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) reporting that three in every five workers in the EU report MSD complaints in the back, upper limbs and/or lower limbs. 

BAM: At the centre of shaping Ireland's national infrastructure

For more than 60 years BAM has been at the centre of shaping Ireland’s national infrastructure and creating many of our most iconic buildings. With best-in-industry capabilities, we help public and private sector clients reduce carbon emissions and enhance sustainability over the lifecycle of their buildings and infrastructure.

Our mission is to build a sustainable tomorrow to enhance people’s lives by providing solutions across the total construction process. Our primary aim is to have a Net Positive Impact on climate change, resources and people and we have committed to being scientifically evaluated on our efforts. 

We are the only construction company in Ireland to feature on the Climate Change ‘A List’ published by CDP Global and have successfully retained this science-based mark over the last number of years. 

As a responsible employer we conduct our business ethically and operate in an environmentally sustainable way to enhance the lives of people in the communities where we work. Our focus on continuously improving safety performance remains a top priority alongside our efforts to continually improve our sustainability performance.

BAM also very recently became only the fourth Platinum Member of the Irish Green Building Council, which aligns with BAM’s desire to be a driving force behind the transformation of the Irish construction and property sector into a global leader in quality and sustainability.

We want to support our employees to lead healthy lives, both physically and mentally. Our safety campaign, ‘Your Safety is My Safety’ ensures that after a hard day’s work, we return home safely again and get up healthy the next day to start a new working day.  We take responsibility for ourselves and the communities we operate in.

We constantly engage with staff and supply chain with cultural workshops, safe-to-start meetings, toolbox talks and regular communications through all our channels to ensure a mindset of constant vigilance about safety and wellbeing.

Tadhg Lucey, BAM Ireland COO, Civil, Safety & Environmental

Tadhg Lucey, BAM Ireland COO, Civil, Safety & Environmental, said: ‘The cornerstone of the BAM H&S Strategy 2021-2023 is risk management and we understand that team participation and engagement with those carrying out the work are required to ensure the effective identification and management of risk.

"To facilitate this engagement, we have introduced two new risk management tools: Planned V Actual Reviews and High-Risk Reviews (HRR). These collaborative tools are crucial to ensure that the team can openly and honestly work together to develop optimum safe working arrangements for those carrying out the work.’

This year to create awareness around mental health and wellbeing, and to facilitate the dialogue about this important theme, BAM organised a Wellbeing Festival on May 12 with webinars, walk & talks and a photo competition.

Expanding our expert and diverse workforce is integrated into our new strategy 'Building a sustainable tomorrow'. A foundation of this strategy is people. We want to remain the employer of choice, leading with an open and diverse culture, educating and nurturing the next generation and supporting causes people believe in.

The world of construction is changing rapidly, and our clients want predictable, safe and sustainable solutions. BAM can meet these requirements by applying more industrialised techniques and by remaining at the forefront of the use of digitisation. In the next year, we will also continue our focus on innovation and investing in the latest technologies.

This will ultimately improve safety in the workplace and result in more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable projects, while providing a very high quality and competitive solution to our clients. 

How digital optimisation and collaborative planning can benefit construction projects

With job sites adopting smart technology and digitisation becoming a prominent feature in construction, it’s no surprise that Building Information Modelling (BIM) has become the industry standard for mid to large-sized projects. But while BIM is often used to plan pipes, ducts and cables, many systems have yet to integrate the mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades into its model – leading to missed opportunities and job site challenges.

Professional tool manufacturer Hilti have bridged this gap with their complete BIM offering, enabling end-to-end collaboration through digital optimisation. Here are the top three ways construction companies can benefit from incorporating BIM systems into their projects.

1.) Productivity

BIM workflows can drive productivity, but this only works if all parties within the project chain collaborate digitally early on. Traditionally, different trades will work in isolation without consulting one another, which can prove detrimental when clashes need to be ironed out on-site instead of during the planning stage.

Ordering and logistics also have to be carried out manually, whilst paper-based documentation is time consuming and complex to manage. These factors inevitably slow projects down and require more effort in terms of execution and coordination.

But by investing in a model that includes all stakeholders from the beginning, companies can expect to see up to three times faster installation times and potential labour savings of four to six weeks.

Because all installations are planned centrally before construction begins, clashes can be resolved in advance, on-site improvisation can be avoided and timely reworks won’t be necessary. With multi-trade support, the whole process is streamlined and much more efficient.

2.) Reduced materials and costs

When clashes aren’t identified until after work has begun, it doesn’t just cost companies time, but significant amounts of money too. Not only can project delays cost businesses up to 20% more than the estimated cost, but they also have to pay for the reworks they make – including the cost implications of additional materials and labour.

But, by investing early in detailed design with BIM, these problems can be ironed out during the planning stage in the office, meaning less revisions on-site and reduced material costs. In fact, with advanced planning, construction companies can cut their material costs by up to 50%. And with potential time savings of up to 7%, there’s the opportunity to reduce labour costs too.

3.) Improved safety

It goes without saying that collaborative planning can help prevent future problems on job sites, but what about the safety benefits?

When trades work in isolation, support systems aren’t designed as a full application solution, meaning fastening and firestop solutions are often forgotten. In the mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades, solutions may also be based on past experiences and then improvised on the job site, which can sometimes affect safety measures too.

This can lead to a lack of documentation, as well as risks and compliance not being properly managed. Processes that threaten the safety of projects should not be taken likely, making a fully optimised design system much more of a necessity than a modern-day perk.

With BIM, every aspect of the application is considered from the beginning, meaning anchors and fire protection are at the heart of every design. Engineering is put back in the driving seat, with holistic decisions being made in the office rather than an improvised approach on-site.

Field-to-BIM scanning devices can also be used to import measurements from existing buildings, giving businesses the documentation they need to assess risks and stay compliant. It boils down to simplicity – removing lengthy processes in favour of an organised system that makes managing safety easier.

By enabling multi-trade support, workflow transparency and end-to-end collaboration, Hilti’s BIM offering can generate significant cost savings, enhance productivity and improve safety throughout construction projects.

With four main services, including Framework, Design Core and Specifics, Modelling and Drawings and Bill of Materials, they provide expert guidance from beginning to end – allowing the smooth transfer of designs from office to jobsite.

As digital optimisation continues to grow, there’s no doubt that BIM systems have the ability to transform working practices for the better. In fact, with adoption growing substantially, it’s hard to imagine a future where it doesn’t play a pivotal role.

To learn more about Hilti’s BIM equipment and services, visit: 

Pipelife: Our golden rules – safety by the people, for the people

Here at Pipelife we have always based our safety management on building strong culture. We recognise that our people are the safety experts in our business – those who do the job know the risks and know best how to manage them. Our frontline workers manage risks and avoid accidents every day.

That’s why we have endeavoured on a new program to simplify safety and keep responsibility for it in the hands of our people. We are asking everybody, 'What are your Golden Rules for safety?'

Who decides what?

We decided to ask our frontline workers what the safety rules should be because we trust in their competence and it’s our duty to listen to their needs. The responsibility for safety, however, rests with the management. It’s up to the management to set the standards and support with resources – we are asking for engagement and a partnership to find best possible solutions.

Keeping it simple keeps us safer

The most important thing in safety is to keep it simple. Keeping it simple means that people will use the rules and procedures which are put in place to protect them. In many Pipelife Countries we already have a full set of safety rules, safety instructions, procedures and other tools, but when this becomes too complex, how much of this is really used day to day?

The concept of the Golden Rules is to condense safety instructions into the things which mean the most to our people. Every company has committed to developing and using a new set of golden safety rules in its business this year.

The process of defining what is essential

The process is just as simple: we gather as many people with different functions together as possible and do a workshop. It is critical to have good representation from production, maintenance, HR, technical support, logistics and administration.

Together we look at examples of golden rules from other companies. We brainstorm what our rules could be and then as a team, decide on the few rules which are essential. Everybody then discusses what exceptions are allowed to these rules and what the consequences are if the rules are broken. 

Our sister company, Pipelife Germany was the first company to role out the new process. Workshop participants publicised the new rules by each member of the team presenting a rule back to the whole staff. T-shirts were printed and given to all workers to celebrate the change and remind everyone of their Golden Rules.

As part of this Health and Safety initiative Pipelife Ireland took part in a video series highlighting the everyday dangers that we face in the workplace and how important it is to have work colleagues watching out for us. The video was called 'Who’s the Clown' and can be viewed on Pipelife Ireland's LinkedIn Page – 

Jones Engineering: Priorities can change but values do not

At Jones Engineering, we are proud to once again, to support the CIF annual Construction Safety Week. The goal is to eliminate accidents at work, to drive continual improvement in safety and health performance, to celebrate best practice and to reinforce and promote the importance of safety, health and overall wellbeing in work and in life.

As our EHS manager Declan Grady put it: “CIF Safety Construction Week provides an invaluable platform to highlight areas of safety concern within our industry.  It is an opportunity to refocus and double down on our commitment to strive for an injury free workplace. 

"It is also a time where different facets of the construction industry can work together to share experiences and best practices, which has never been as important as during the unprecedented circumstances and steep learning curves we have experienced throughout the last two years.”

The topics the CIF has chosen to focus on this year will be covered in themed toolbox talks and events on our sites throughout the country over the course of the week. Our projects are located across Ireland, Europe and the Middle East and as such we extend our CIF Safety Week events beyond our shores.

Some of our teams are working in harsh conditions such as extreme heat environments reaching temperatures of +50 degrees and arctic conditions reaching sub-zero temperatures of -40 degrees with very few daylight hours.

On these projects we are now utilising an Employee Assistant Programme with PepTalk which allows for supports to be made available to staff on site and in particular in relation to their mental health and wellbeing. We chose PepTalk because they are passionate about delivering sustainable, long term behavioural change for employees through a market leading, technology focused wellbeing solution.

Historically, construction health and safety has always prioritised the more immediately obvious physical hazards and their impact on site safety. But attitudes are thankfully changing, as people realise that the silent issue of mental health is just as dangerous and potentially fatal.

We have signed up as a company supporter to the Lighthouse charity. Lighthouse has recently launched its 'Help Inside the Hard Hat’ campaign to raise awareness of poor mental health within our industry.

‘Help Inside the Hard Hat’ provides a huge range of pro-active support and resources for our construction community including a 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline, free app and mental health training. We would encourage everyone in the industry to take advantage of these fantastic resources.

Throughout the week, the Working at Height 3M Mobile demonstration unit which will be providing awareness training to a number of our Irish sites.

We have also arranged a selection of webinar events and socially distanced video screenings of the bespoke videos we have created with theatre-based learning company Theatre at Work. The online webinars are very interactive, and facilitate energetic discussions based on the role-played scenes. We are emphasising a focus on behavioural based safety training for both craft and management.

Some sites will also be running competitions including safety quizzes and word searches and there will be safety colouring competitions for children of staff members. Our goal is always to ensure our people return home safe to their families at the end of every day. Safety has always been the No 1 value for Jones Engineering. Priorities can change but values do not.  

Ardmac: Safety first – that’s our motto

At Ardmac, safety is at the forefront of every we do. Our number one guiding principle is Safety First. We continually strive to ensure that safety as a value is embedded among all employees, both in the workplace and at home. This takes place at all levels of the Ardmac organisation from CEO to the shop floor. Our goal is to achieve zero incidents and injuries in all our workplaces.

To maintain this safety culture, we take a participatory approach. Our Safety-First Programme is management focused and is designed to improve ownership and leadership among our people. It encourages our staff to re-think the way that we manage and behave towards working safely.

There are four cornerstones to this programme: Task Planning and Training; Engagement and Participation; Co-ordination and management and Ownership; Leadership and commitment.

Figure 1: Safety First cornerstones

Figure 2: Safety talks

Our Safety-First Conversations create an open dialogue around safety. These conversations are in addition to our toolbox talks and safety meetings. These talks allow our teams to openly discuss and be aware of safety on site. All Ardmac staff and management continually attend safety workshops and training programmes. These help to achieve a culture of collaboration and trust.

At Ardmac, we adapt our safety communications to seasonal activity. Our Seasons of Safety programme allows us to communicate our message in a way that is easily applicable to those who are working with us. We cover the different issues that may arise with the changing seasons, the impact of dark days in Autumn, the affect Winter may have on mental health and the importance of sunshine protection in Summer and Spring.

Figure 3: Seasons of Safety

These programmes and communications work together to foster belief, ownership, and leadership in safety. The lessons learned enable our staff to create a healthy and safe working environment. It is a testament to our shared safety culture that Ardmac have recently achieved a milestone of over 7.4 million person hours without a reportable injury.

Figure 4: The Ardmac receiving recognition for excellent safety and quality standards in Denmark

Our commitment to striving to achieve excellence in health safety and wellbeing has been recognised. We have achieved the RoSPA Order of Distinction for outstanding performance in occupational health and safety, representing 20 years of gold award achievement.

Aside from the physical risks and on-site threats, we are also very aware of the dangers we can’t see. We place a huge focus on depression, anxiety, stress and suicidal thoughts. We recognise these are just as dangerous as the tangible on-site hazards.

Over the past number of years there has been an increasing number of employees in the construction industry suffering from mental health issues.

A 2020 study found that 83% of construction workers have experienced a mental health issue. Mental health issues are indiscriminatory and affect people in all roles. We place huge focus on regulations and on-site safety, but mental health needs to be prioritised just as highly as wearing a hard hat or protective goggles.

That’s why this year, Ardmac has chosen its three charity partners with a focus on mental health: Pieta House, Manchester Mind and the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity. Ardmac is aiming to help tackle this issue by increasing awareness of the mental health issues within the construction industry, providing the support and resources for our staff, and raising vital funds for our charity partners.

By continually discussing and educating our employees about safety we believe that we can eliminate injuries and enhance people’s lives. Open conversations around safety help to embed positive attitudes and beliefs to safety. Enabling our staff to think and about safety positively and in a different way.