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RR101-11 – Addressing Construction Worker Safety in the Project Design

Executive Summary:

Construction worker safety continues to be a major concern for the construction industry. While significant improvements have been made in the past few decades, efforts must be maintained to strive for the zero accidents objective. Although safety has traditionally rested on the constructor’s shoulders, designers have been identified as parties to the project team who have a significant influence on construction worker safety. Designers dictate the configuration and components of a facility and thereby control, to a large extent, how the project will be constructed. If designers are sensitive to the safety consequences of their design decisions, the inherent safety of construction projects will be improved.

While their influence on safety is known, it is often felt by designers that they are not educated and trained to address worker safety adequately, and that they do not have the contractual authority or position to dictate jobsite activities. They also contend that there are no tools to help them design to improve or ensure construction worker safety.

This research included an investigation of the designer’s role in construction worker safety. The research effort involved the identification of design suggestions, or “best practices,” which could be implemented during project planning and design in order to minimize or eliminate safety hazards in the construction phase. This effort was followed by the development of a design tool to assist designers in identifying and mitigating safety hazards.

The research effort has identified and developed over 400 design suggestions. The accumulated suggestions reflect all types of design disciplines, jobsite hazards, and construction components and systems. A computer program, titled “Design for Construction Safety ToolBox,” was developed which incorporates the design suggestions accumulated. The program alerts the user to project-specific construction safety hazards and provides suggestions to eliminate or reduce those hazards during the design phase. The program is user-friendly, applicable to any size or type of project, and not only focuses on facility planning and design aspects that affect construction phase safety, but can also be applied to the start-up, maintenance, and decommissioning phases.

The successful completion of this research is envisioned to provide numerous benefits including not only a reduction of construction worker injuries with their associated costs, but also a reduction in redesign/rebuild, maintenance, and operating costs. Beneficiaries of this effort are expected to include owners, construction workers, engineers, contractors, and the public. Although the primary users of this design tool will be design professionals, other users may be found in academic design and construction curriculums. The capabilities of the program are such that it can be expanded to perform additional company-specific tasks, or re-focused to address other topics, Such as worker safety training, job hazard analysis, or constructability in general.

Table of Contents:

List of Figures

List of Tables

Executive Summary

I. Introduction

II. Literature Review


Fatality and Disabling Injury Statistics

Safety Legislation

Safety and the Project Team

Safety Trends

III. Methodology

Accumulation of Design Suggestions

Development of the Design Tool

IV. Results

Design Suggestions

The Design for Construction Safety ToolBox

V. Conclusions

VI. Recommendations



Legislation Cited

Cases Cited

Appendix A: Fatality and Disabling Injury Data

Appendix B: List of CII Design for Safety Research Team Members

Appendix C: Example Letter and Form Included in Mailed Survey

Appendix D: List of Design Suggestions

Appendix E: Liability in Designing for Construction Worker Safety

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