Environmental Factors Affecting Safety and Accident Prevention
Environmental Factors Affecting Safety and Accident Prevention
Different workplaces have different environments surrounding them and affecting them. In business terms, environmental factors may be categorized into elements in terms of physical, political, social, regulatory, cultural or technological factors. These may further be identified into internal factors and external factors surrounding the business affecting its operations. Internal environmental factors can be controlled by a company, and they include organizational culture, quality standards and company leadership. External factors cannot be controlled by the company but have an influence on the operations that the company undergoes. These include suppliers, government policies, the social environment and regulations set by other professional bodies governing the industry. The environmental factors and their effects differ with the work place and the type of work involved (Asfal & Rieske, 2010). This essay will be focusing on environmental factors affecting the construction industry and their influence on the accidents that occur. It will also identify how each environmental factor influences the accidents and the measures that can be taken to avoid such hazards at construction sites.
Types of environmental factors at construction workplaces
In approaching the subject of safety and accident prevention at workplaces, a systematic process should be followed. The first step involves identifying the risk, which is followed by assessing its prevalence and the measuring the level of its toxicity. The construction industry is affected by both internal and external environmental factors during its operations, which if not properly controlled or managed may lead to accidents. In the category of internal factors, one main causal factor is the organizational culture of a company. This refers to human organization, communication system followed by the workers on a job site and the interaction between various jobs on the construction site. The organization between the various job roles on the construction site is particularly crucial as it ensures that there is coordination of work. In many cases, accidents occurring in the sites are as a result of acts committed by other workers on the same site that are not in coordination with their fellow workers’ jobs (Construction Health and Safety, 2013). This issue is highly prevalent in the construction site, and it is important to provide a solution.
Other than the issue of negligent practices in the work place, another major causative factor of accidents at work places is poor communication. Coordinated communication is important as it allows the smooth flow of activities. When proper communication channels are not in place at the construction site, it will be difficult for the supervisor to disseminate instructions in a timely way, and this will lead to disorganization that could easily allow accidents to occur. Poor communication channels can translate into poor leadership of the company (Asfal & Rieske, 2010).
Another factor that could be a significant cause of accidents at construction sites could be poor quality standards for companies. Some companies are not strict on the quality of materials used for construction or the competency levels of their employees. Sometimes, in a bid to save on costs, they may contract a cheaper supplier to provide the material where these materials may be substandard (Martin, Rivas, Matias, Taboada & Arguelles, 2009). This could be a significant problem as poor quality of materials used could lead to the collapse of a structure, which is hazardous. Poor standards in terms of the expertise of employees are also another crucial problem leading to accidents taking place in work places (Asfal & Rieske, 2010). If the work crew employed to work in construction sites are not well qualified, this could lead to improper work coordination, and poor work done that can result in fatal accidents occurring at the sites.
In some cases, accidents are caused by external factors that are beyond the control of the construction crew. For instance, weather factors may be a cause of accidents especially in wet areas. When working on roofs and other dangerous sites, the weather may make it more likely for accidents to occur (Martin, Rivas, Matias, Taboada & Arguelles, 2009). Other weather conditions that may result in accidents may be windy conditions or snowy conditions. Other external environmental factors that may result in accidents at construction sites could be the suppliers contracted. The quality of material brought in by the supplier may be substandard. In some instances, companies may have contracted a company to provide supplies for a long time such that they do not examine the supplies on delivery but take them straight to the construction site. Such a company may provide cheaper substandard goods as they know that the goods are not inspected.
Social environmental factors could also be a factor resulting in accidents in construction sites. In especially highly populated areas, construction accidents involving inhabitants of the surrounding community are possible. This may be because of non-workers being at the site when they should not be. Their activities may also interfere with the construction process especially in road constructions. Thus, this factor should be considered (Salvendy, 2012).
Training and communication
All workers should be involved in the assessment of existing environmental factors leading to accidents. Their opinions on how the factors affect them while at work and their views on how each factor should be handled should be considered. Upon conducting the studies and analyzing the situations, the results should be disseminated to the personnel to notify them of the existing hazards in the company. Training programs should be put in place to aid the workers in situation management and crisis control. They should be trained on the importance of taking the set safety measures (Leiter, Zanaletti & Argentero, 2009). Efficient communicating channels should be created throughout the company so that managerial decisions can be passed on to all the workers on a timely basis. The training programs should be set to train the personnel on measures to take in case they notice a situation that if not rectified could lead to an accident. This will ensure that situations are contained early enough avoiding accidents.
In providing a solution for environmental hazards at construction sites, it would be imperative to understand the cause of the problem itself. For instance, in accidents caused by negligent acts by fellow workers it would be crucial to understand why the workers act negligently (Construction Health and Safety, 2013). Upon recognizing and categorizing the causes, it is important to identify various means that can be used to rectify the causes in order to avoid the problem. In the case where accidents are caused weather conditions, measures such as proper planning of the construction schedule can ensure that construction work takes place in seasons where the weather is more favorable. If it is not possible, safety measures should be implemented at the construction site that ensure safety of the construction crew. Protective gear should be given to the workers to avoid minor injuries that may in turn cause serious injuries (Leiter, Zanaletti & Argentero, 2009).
In the case where there is laxity in the examination of supplies by trusted suppliers, more regulations that are stringent should be set by the company ensuring that the quality of the supplies meets the standards set by the company. The company’s quality control should be reinforced to ensure that only high standard material is allowed, and only the suppliers who can meet those standards are contracted. In order to solve issues involving the community in which the construction takes place, it is essential to involve the community through the relevant authorities. The authorities can then place restrictions to access to the constructions site with penalties being put in place for trespassing (Salvendy, 2012). The company itself can fence off the area under which the construction work is being undertaken to ensure that there is no access for the unauthorized parties.
Accidents at work places cause unprecedented costs to the company as well as losses both to the company and the injured worker. This could be in terms of hospital bills, compensation for the worker, settlements and long legal processes, the cost of stalled work especially where a part of the construction fails due to poor planning or poor quality (Sengupta, Reno, Burton & Baldwin, 2012). It is, therefore, necessary to take necessary measures to ensure that such accidents are avoided where possible. By following the five steps of problem identification, identifying its prevalence, identifying the level of seriousness of the problem, creating a control to the problem and implementing the identified controls, accidents occurring at construction sites can be controlled.
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