Safety First

Today, with tremendous transformation in the areas of knowledge development and awareness, safety is being considered as one of the top-most priorities for construction project developers in India.However, safety is a process which needs to be practiced always.
Cities are building its way towards becoming “global cities” through mammoth infrastructure and construction projects, then what is the story of those people whose works help put up its massive structures? Safety at construction site is always an issue and remains a concern for every developer. However, awareness on safety aspects and implementation of safety measures is still neglected as far as construction activities in India is concerned.
Construction sector is very essential and an integral part of infrastructure development which gives tremendous boost to the economy. Indian construction industry is highly labour-intensive. Accidents occurring at a construction site are usually due to a lack of co-ordination within the various departments involved, and lack of proper inspections. Safety should be part of the process right from the very beginning.
Safety StandardsMost industries overlook the safety of workers. Everyone in a workplace is entitled to a safe working environment. A safe work environment helps to keep skilled employees on the job and projects on track by reducing accidents that result in injuries and schedule delays.
“The safety standards at Indian construction sites clearly depend on the category of builders. In terms of big builders, the safety standards are pretty good; the safety measures at big construction sites are as per the rule book. But when it comes to small builders, there are a number of safety measures which are ignored resulting into hazards,” shares Anupam Saha, Co- Founder and Business Head of RealtoExpress, an IT solution provider for real estate.
According to Bharat Brahmbhatt, Projects Head, RNA Corp, “The awareness of safe construction has improved a lot compared to last five/ten years. Real estate is becoming more professional with multinational construction companies entering into Indian construction sector of residential building. Theses MNC’s have majorly influenced safe working conditions. Even developers have started giving importance to same. Especially in an island city like Mumbai where vertical construction is inevitable has increased the risk of working at height phenomenally.” RNA Corp is one of the leading property development companies in India.
Existing regulationsWith a large number of skilled and unskilled workers at the site, the safety requirements of workers during construction is utmost important and should be abided by rules and laws.The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill was introduced in 1996. The aim of this Act is to provide for the levy and collection of a cess on the cost of construction incurred by employers with a view to augmenting the resources of the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Boards constituted under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.
Some construction groups too have initiated group insurance schemes for their workers, but such initiatives are mostly dependent on the largesse of the developers.
Areas which needs attentionApart from implementation of safety standards through rules and regulations, there are some areas in construction industry which needs utmost attention.
“It has been excessively found that the construction labourers are not fully skilled. When it comes to the skills of the labourers, the real estate sector turns out to be a little unorganised. The workers tend to get exposed to occupational diseases, because of lack of awareness and quality skills. There is a need to provide proper safety equipment to the workers,” reveals Mr Saha.The market has changed drastically for skilled and unskilled labourers. Hiring workers with skills, particularly specialised skills risk reduces accidents.
According to Mr Bhrambhatt, “To meet the safety requirements, developer or contractor has to spend substantial amount which only a very few developers understand. It’s high time to make compulsory provision in the contract legally.”
Challenges and road aheadConstruction, being the highly labour intensive industry, has its own problems and challenges. Few of them include lack of skilled workforce and safety equipment, lack of awareness on safety etc.
While talking on the challenges the industry is facing, Mr Saha says, “The biggest challenge that the industry is facing is to transform unskilled workers into skilled workers. There has not been any proper research in India regarding safety measures that could be implemented further. Safety rules are not implemented properly.”
Also, for a better and safe working environment in future, one needs proper planning and effective risk management strategies before a project begins and while it’s being built. “Good medical facility needs to be provided. The workers need to be properly trained for emergencies,” he further added.
Availability of safety equipmentAccidents are often the result of lack of proper safety gear or the misunderstanding or misuse of equipment. To ensure the safety of their workers, construction companies must be equipped with adequate safety equipment.
“Due to globalisation, a plenty of equipment are available in the market, but usages and applications of same is known to very limited people. Continuous awareness programme are utmost important to focus onto creating safe working conditions. Initiation by client should be more useful for implementing it,” commented Mr Bhrambhatt.
Sharing his view Mr Saha said, “When we talk about big builders, the availability of safety equipment is much more convincing as compared to the safety facilities provided by small builders. We can see a worker at a big construction site, well equipped with eye protectors, safety vests, welding masks, aprons, sunscreen, hand cleaner etc. But the same is missing when we talk about workers at small building units. Inspection of the safety equipment are also a must and the workers should know and understand there usage well.”
The bottom lineSafety is a critical area on all construction projects for multiple reasons including protecting the welfare of workers and providing a safe work environment. Safety training is often a good measure to establish and maintain a safety program.
Building a safer workplace and industry, requires constant effort and continual improvement. A proactive safety culture helps to save lives, retain workers, reduce claims and delays, and enhance productivity and profitability while strengthening the company’s reputation.
Today, with tremendous transformation in the areas of knowledge development and awareness, safety is being considered as one of the top-most priorities for construction project developers in India. However, safety is a process which needs to be practiced always

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