At Jones, we recognise the growing awareness around the demand for responsible business behaviour with issues relating to sustainability, ethics and respect for all of our stakeholders. We are extremely passionate about culture, diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace and recognise the impacts that they have on both their environment and the society in which they operate.
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CIF Safety Week Blog 2020
Monday – Mental Health and Wellbeing in Construction
Monday 19th October is the first day of CIF Construction Safety Week 2020 and the focus today is on Mental Health and Wellbeing in Construction.
Historically, construction health and safety has always prioritised the more immediately obvious physical hazards and their impact on site safety. The CIF is undertaking a year-long initiative to support mental wellbeing amongst its 1,400 members and the wider industry and we are proud to support them. A survey carried out by Accuracy Research on behalf of the Construction Industry Federation found that 68% of companies believe the construction sector has a serious issue with staff under reporting issues with their mental wellbeing in the workplace.
Thankfully attitudes are beginning to change, as people realise that the silent issue of mental health is just as dangerous and potentially fatal. In fact, recent statistics suggest that one of the most dangerous things on a construction site is the human mind.
- Often construction workers are employed on a job by job basis leading to uncertainty and stress about work and income.
- Physically demanding job often with long hours, shiftwork and deadlines.
- Periods of working away from family and friends leading to isolation.
- Sometimes working in isolation for long periods e.g. crane operator, driver etc.
- Less connections made with colleagues than other industries due to rotating workforce, subcontractors coming and going etc.
Thankfully, awareness about mental health and its effect on your wellbeing is growing and the culture of silence and stigma that has surrounded it is steadily being eroded.
Mental health and the wellbeing of all our staff is of upmost importance and we have engaged with Pieta House on how best we can support our employees in this regard.
We have worked closely with Theatre at Work to create a short film addressing the topic of ‘We can all make good choices to improve our health and wellbeing’. This will allow us to hold workshops which comply with all Covid-19 guidelines.
We encourage anyone who may feel they are struggling to reach out for support. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to someone you know, there are many confidential and free resources available such as Mental Health Ireland and the Samaritans.
The CIF also has some valuable resources here: https://cif.ie/safety-week/monday-19th/
Now is a time to take care of one another. We are all in this together.
Tuesday – Plant and Pedestrian Safety
Tuesday 20th October is focused on promoting Plant and Pedestrian Safety for CIF Safety Week. According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the greatest risk to pedestrians is from vehicles and mobile plant.
This is a topic we regularly include in our toolbox talks and internal safety campaigns in order to remind our staff and specialist subcontractors of its importance.
Where vehicles are operating, the vulnerable group may be co-workers, visitors, or members of the public. To protect pedestrians, vehicle travel routes should be clearly delineated, with enough clearance space between persons and vehicles considering the number of users and the work activities. You must stay alert at all times, using all of your senses. Keep a lookout and listen for vehicles that are moving. Reversing vehicles should be fitted with both audible and visible warning alarms, but you won’t hear them if you are using a mobile phone.
With the help of Theatre at Work we have created two short films which highlight key aspects of our work. The film we will be screening on site today covers Plant and Pedestrian Safety and Working Safely at Height with a brief overview of Emergency Preparedness. This will be shown across a number of our sites during the week to facilitate socially distanced and safe workshops.
On a few selected sites we have setup the award-winning Serious Labs MEWP Virtual Reality Simulator in conjunction with Access and Forklift Training Services. This hands-on learning solution is designed to assess and remediate operators on boom, slab scissor, and rough terrain scissor lifts. The simulators allow operators to experience complex or high-risk workplace situations in a safe environment, while providing instructors with detailed, actionable performance feedback. The MEWP VR measures operators prior to placing them on the jobsite, to better understand any risk they may pose when using live equipment along with determining the potential training or remediation courses where gaps have been identified.
For further reading, advice and videos check out these great resource from the CIF:
Wednesday – Occupational Health
We are now at the halfway point for CIF Safety Week and today we are focusing on Occupational Health. Occupational ill health describes all health problems in the work environment. This includes health problems that workers bring to the workplace as well as health issues that are caused or made worse by work. In the construction industry, there are many hazards that can contribute to occupational ill-health. Some of which include:
- Exposure to harmful materials, including asbestos, lead, dusts containing silica, chemicals, sunlight, gases, and exhaust emissions. This can lead to skin problems, dermatitis, occupational asthma, occupational cancer, and lung disease, if they are not properly controlled.
- Frequent loud noise. In time, this may contribute to noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Excessive use of vibrating tools, which may lead to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome and Vibration White Finger.
- Frequent material and manual handling of heavy loads, may give rise to musculoskeletal disorders and upper limb disorders, particularly if you adopt incorrect manual handling procedures.
- Stress and fatigue, can contribute to a range of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.
- Lone working, presents risks such as accidents not receiving urgent assistance if nobody is nearby and if communication methods are insufficient. It may also result in accidents arising from the inability to immediately ask someone for help.
- Inadequate working conditions, including insufficient lighting, uncomfortable temperatures, and long working hours.
Jones Engineering have a legal duty to do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety and health of workers is protected and workers themselves must also take personal responsibility and not do anything that could jeopardise their safety or the safety of others. As a company we pride ourselves in ensuring we have excellent safe systems of work in place to ensure the safety and health of all our employee’s, contractors and visitors to site. These systems also consist of pre-employment screenings and onsite health screenings.
We have worked closely with Theatre at Work to create a short film addressing the topic of ‘We can all make good choices to improve our health and wellbeing’ . This allows will allow us to hold workshops which comply with all Covid-19 guidelines.
There are a range of valuable online resources available. Some of which we are linking here:
HSA – Crystalline Silica Dust Information
HSE – Construction Dust Information
EU – Guidance for National Labour Inspectors on addressing risks from worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) on construction sites
The CIF and the HSA will also be running a webinar in Practical Ergonomic Risk Assessment in Construction from 11.00 – 13.00 today, 21st October. To register follow this link: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/news_events_media/events/hsa_webinars/cifhsa-webinar.pdf
Another valuable resource made available through the CIF are the Latest Best Practice / Lessons Learned Cases which are all available here: https://cif.ie/lesson-learned-best-practice-in-health-safety/
Thursday – Working Safely at Height
Working at Height continues to be the greatest causal factor for fatalities and serious injury in construction. 4 of the 5 reported fatalities in construction in 2020 relate to working at height, the other involved machinery.
We have worked with the company Theatre at Work to create a film promoting Working Safely at Heights. We will continue to utilise this tailor made film across sites throughout the week. We will also be incorporating the award-winning Serious Labs MEWP Virtual Reality (VR) Simulator in conjunction with Access and Forklift Training Services. The simulators allow operators to experience complex or high-risk workplace situations in a safe environment, while providing instructors with detailed, actionable performance feedback. This not only allows for better understanding of site risks when using live equipment but can also identify any gaps for potential training or remediation courses.
Through visual demonstration and facilitated discussion the socially distanced and virtual workshops we are running focus on choices and the influence of planning and contractor dynamics on risk awareness and safe working practices while working at height. They allow participants to examine their own role in influencing a culture of safety through effective safety conversations.
These types of workshops tie in with our Open Door Policy approach to Health and Safety. In Jones Engineering all levels of management have open ears and open minds. Our workforce is encouraged to share and discuss everything that happens from the ground up and new ideas are not just welcomed they are rewarded.
It is vital that we remain focused on reducing the risks associated with this activity so they are as low as reasonably practicable. Employers have a legal duty to do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety & health of workers is protected, and workers themselves must also take personal responsibility and not do anything that could jeopardise their safety or the safety of others. We, as a company, have put excellent safe systems of work (inclusive of risk assessments, training, permits, inspections) in place to protect employees and other contractor personnel from work at height hazards and the resulting potential injuries that could be sustained.
For more information and resources see below:
Friday – Emergency Preparedness
The focus for the last day of CIF Safety Week is on Emergency Preparedness.
As the saying goes “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”
Emergency preparedness helps to minimize the human suffering and economic losses that can result from emergencies. The process of hazard identification and assessment involves a thorough review. For each potential hazard it is important to identify resources necessary for an appropriate emergency response. For most events in construction, a simple analysis based on the experience of the people involved on the project is usually sufficient. Small steps now can make all the difference in the future. It is essential to have emergency procedures in place so that personnel can be protected by a planned response in the event of any of the following occurs:
- Explosion or Structural Collapse.
- Hazardous materials spill.
- Flood or flash flood.
- Radiological accident.
- Injured personnel.
- Working At Height (Rescue).
The most important thing to remember in any emergency is to stay calm. An important step in ensuring that employees can remain calm is through frequent training and familiarity with the Emergency Procedures. On this, the last day of CIF Safety Week we are reiterating the need for hazard identification and assessment as well as regular training for irregular situations.
If 2020 has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected, to be prepared to adopt, adapt and innovate. It has been a steep learning curve adapting to new work practices but our teams have risen to the challenge by overcoming obstacles safely in accordance with current guidelines. It is their flexibility and ability to remain focused under pressure situations that has contributed to how well they have coped with the Covid 19 pandemic. Our Maintenance Team in the Mater Hospital was even presented with a special medal and a letter from President Michael D. Higgins in recognition of their contribution to our country’s pandemic response, along with all the outstanding frontline hospital staff.
We can’t predict the future but the steps we take now will have a big impact further down the line. At Jones Engineering safety is not just a standard, it’s a frame of mind.
Read more from the CIF here: https://cif.ie/safety-week/friday-23rd/