Efforts to establish effective safety practices in the construction of process infrastructure seem to be paying off.
Recent figures suggest that while other industries have continued to experience a high rate of injury, the engineering construction sector achieved a year-on-year downward trend.
The latest study from the National Joint Council for Engineering Construction (NJC) reveals that the engineering construction sector experienced substantially lower injuries than the construction industry as a whole.
Health and safety and competence are key. You just can’t afford to get it wrong
Chief executive of the ECITB David Edwards
On engineering construction sites there are 297 reportable injuries per 100,000 employees, which compares with HSE’s latest figure for all construction of 530 per 100,000. The difference is substantial and continues a sustained trend over many years.
In places like nuclear power stations and oil refineries the potential for accidents is high and the consequences significant to the individuals, the facility and to the environment if something is not done properly. High standards of health and safety are essential.
“When you’re dealing with key installations like nuclear power stations or a chemical manufacturing plant, health and safety and competence are key. You just can’t afford to get it wrong.” said David Edwards, chief executive of the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB).
The ECITB and other organisations involved in engineering construction have pinpointed the need for continued attention to detail, the promotion of high standards and cementing behavioural change.
“It’s not possible to demonstrate competence without showing high levels of health and safety knowledge and understanding”, said Edwards. “Being able to work safely, minimise risk and identify and deal with hazards and emergencies is essential.”
The ECITB points out that the workforce in engineering construction tends to be directly employed, rather than self-employed, giving each employee direct accountability.
“There is a very different dynamic to be found in engineering construction compared to other parts of the construction industry,” said Richard Ash, health and environment manager at Engineering Construction Industry Association.
Ash is also chairman of the Client Contractor National Safety Group (CCNSG), a body that monitors and controls the ‘Safety Passport’ award - an initiative, he believes, is having a significant impact on the health and safety of workers in engineering construction.
Developed by ECITB, The ‘Safety Passport’ scheme involves workers taking part in health and safety training and assessment, which then has to be renewed every three years.
Meanwhile, the Royal Academy of Engineering has highlighted that positive figures alone will not be enough to ensure future construction safety of critical process infrastruction, such as nuclear power plants.
“A culture should be encouraged to ensure individuals feel able to be open about any lack of competence or excessive pressure for the task or decision on hand,” it said in a recent report.