ClockShark Blog

What Safety Standards Apply on Your Construction Project?

June 18, 2019

A person grinding metal

Every construction project and client seem to have different safety standards. Some clients can be quite slack when it comes to safety, while other construction projects have numerous rigorous rules. Even the authorities don’t always apply safety standards in an even and consistent manner.

The client has their safety standards, then there are the national and state safety standards, while some industries, like oil and mining, have their own particular rigorous safety standards, while your company has their safety rules and safety standards. Which safety rules should you follow? It can be quite confusing moving between construction projects with differing safety standards.  

So which safety standards apply to your construction project?

When implementing safety measures the rule should always be that the most rigorous safety standards apply. But more importantly, that work is always done in a safe manner. So, no matter the rules and regulations you should never carry out work which could endanger a person’s life or damage property. Often common-sense is the best safety protection. Unfortunately, some in construction don’t apply common-sense.

Safety rule number one should always be – if it looks unsafe don’t do it. If it looks unsafe to stop the task and reassesses how the work can be done safely.

Always ensure that you understand the project safety requirements. Importantly ensure that your crew understands the project safety requirements, because if it’s confusing to you then it’s certainly confusing for them. Always ensure that the safety standards are set from the first day on the project and that they are applied consistently through the whole project.

Some clients may have safety rules that you feel are unnecessary. In fact, some safety officers have their own unique things they look for. It’s seldom worth arguing that a safety rule is unnecessary, and it’s not a fight that you’re likely to win. In reality, the more you argue the case, the more likely the client or safety officer will dig their heals in and enforce their rules. Often this argument results in a bad attitude, which causes the person to look for additional safety issues and problems to make your life more difficult.

Of course, if there are additional safety rules which are hindering the project or adding additional costs which aren’t a general requirement on other construction projects you could perhaps argue the case. But first, check that the additional safety requirements aren’t stipulated in the contract document (this could include wearing additional personal protective equipment). In which case the contractor should have allowed for these additional measures in their price, and you should have no reason to refuse to comply. If there are additional rules which hinder work which hasn’t been stipulated in the contract, then the contractor may have reason to claim additional costs and time from the client, but probably won’t win an argument to slacken the requirement.

But before arguing the case against a particular safety requirement always consider whether the rule will prevent an accident and how much of a nuisance it actually is. We often resist change simply because we don’t like change! We shouldn’t be arguing against something that will prevent an injury. And some fights aren’t worth wasting our time and energy on or aggravating our clients.

None of us want to be injured at work and none of us want any of our crew hurt, so it’s vital that our construction projects are always safe no matter if the safety rules and regulations are relaxed, or the client accepts a lesser safety standard. Applying a consistently high safety standard across all our projects will reduce accidents and it will mean that our construction crews automatically follow these standards on their next project.

Author: Paul Netscher

Paul Netscher is an experienced construction professional who managed over 120 projects in 6 countries over 28 years. Paul writes for the ClockShark blog and is the author of five books on construction project management.




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