Salute e sicurezza sul lavoro

Uso sicuro dei carrelli elevatori nei cantieri edili

da Gay Sutton

Marzo 2017

Uso sicuro dei carrelli elevatori nei cantieri edili

Percorsi di accesso fangosi e pieni di solchi e addetti al lavoro intorno sono solo alcune delle sfide che l’operatore del carrello deve affrontare in un cantiere di lavoro. Come fa l’esperto di salute e sicurezza a ridurre il rischio e a migliorare la sicurezza stessa? Gay Sutton riferisce al riguardo.

I l settore edile è uno degli ambienti più pericolosi in cui lavorare e gli operatori dei carrelli elevatori possono trovarsi veramente sotto pressione. Il loro unico scopo nella vita può sembrare quello di fare in modo che le altre attività vadano avanti. I muratori possono avere bisogno di ricarichi di malta qui, i posatori di tubazioni possono necessitare di più tubi là.

Oltre a questo, l’ambiente edile presenta all’esperto di salute e sicurezza una serie di difficoltà uniche relativamente alla movimentazione dei materiali. La destinazione dei materiali cambia continuamente man mano che la costruzione va avanti, il cantiere è esposto a vento, pioggia
e fango, e gli addetti si spostano in giro continuamente, senza contare che molti di loro non sono dipendenti dell’impresario principale.

La chiave è una pianificazione accurata

La pianificazione della sicurezza della movimentazione dei materiali inizia proprio al principio di un progetto. Un modo efficace per fare ciò, secondo Paul Haxell, presidente dell’IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) Construction Group, è la traduzione del programma di
costruzione in una serie di disegni colorati sulla disposizione indicanti le aree delle attività costruttive, fase per fase.

Partendo da questi è possibile identificare le aree di stoccaggio dei materiali più appropriate per ogni fase della costruzione. Haxell ha detto: “Utilizzando questi supporti visivi è possibile vedere i percorsi del traffico che inizia a emergere fra le aree di lavoro e le aree di stoccaggio dei materiali, e il modo in cui è probabile che evolvano nel tempo.

“Paragono tutto questo a un business model: si sviluppa un piano strategico, poi si scende sempre di più in dettaglio con
un piano tattico per la gestione del traffico e la consegna e la movimentazione dei materiali”, ha proseguito Haxell. La società di costruzioni leader Skanska utilizza una tecnica chiamata pianificazione collaborativa per tutti i progetti, di cui un elemento chiave è la logistica. Una voltasviluppato il programma di costruzione, l’appaltatore e le squadre della catena di fornitura di tutto il progetto si incontrano insieme per elaborare il piano.

Inizialmente ciò comporta la sua visione in un periodo che va dalle otto alle dodici settimane, per poi entrare più nei dettagli a intervalli mensili, settimanali e quindi giornalieri. Il tutto viene poi riesaminato o aggiornato frequentemente.

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Paul Haxell, Chair of the IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) Construction Group

“Health and safety is everyone's responsibility“

“The aim, from the logistics perspective, is to ensure that all trades can work effectively without treading on each other’s toes, and can move around the workplace safely,“ explained Skanska’s Senior Health and Safety Manager, Nick Wing. “It also helps to co-ordinate where materials are stored, and how and when they will be moved around the site. Outputs from the meetings are often visualised on site plans to help everyone to understand them.“

Once these routes have been identified, people and vehicle movements can be segregated using barriers and designated pedestrian crossings. The continuously evolving and changing nature of the construction site, however, can make it very tempting for pedestrians to take short cuts or for drivers to cut corners.

“If construction is progressing with good speed,“ Haxell said, “a vehicle route that existed one day may not be the best option the next day. The danger is that the workforce, being helpful and obliging, might think: ‘I can make a shorter route here if I move a few barriers and cut the corner.’ And that can then conspire to defeat the well-intended logistics plan.“ To overcome this issue it is important to be vigilant, and supervise and monitor behaviours across the site.

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Good all-round vision, as provided by this Cat® DP70N forklift, is an essential of safe operation.

Risk assessment

The risk assessment plays a critical part in safety planning, and through all phases of construction.

Haxell has a word of caution. “It needs to be a living document. It should examine the problems, identify the right ways to control the risks, and then should be updated as things change or hazards emerge. How do you do that? Go talk with the machine operators or workers using the pedestrian routes etc.”

Site housekeeping

Materials being delivered to the site should be taken off the highway and unloaded in a carefully planned, prepared and controlled environment. On bigger building projects, suppliers and contractors are routinely assessed for their health and safety performance and processes. Safety standards are then built into their contracts, and performance is monitored.

Skanska takes this very seriously. “One of the key elements is then ensuring the plans we’ve put in place are adhered to,“ Wing said. This not only requires monitoring and supervision, but suitable training among the trades. “We are currently working with CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) to improve the education and training of those who receive and handle materials on site.“

Good housekeeping is essential across all areas of the industry. On some of the best sites, high-value materials are placed straight into containers and less weather-susceptible materials are stored in designated areas separated by barriers. Materials left in access routes or stored untidily are a hazard and should be avoided. “What we can’t safeguard against“, Haxell said, “is how much rain we get and how badly parts of the site may then rut through vehicle movements.“

Providing and maintaining a suitable surface for safety and efficiency in the delivery area and on routes to the construction area may seem obvious, but the cost of this has to be planned well ahead and included in the tender. And, as Haxell pointed out, the cost of an extra hundred tonnes of crushed concrete or hard-core for the repair and maintenance of vehicle routes could make the difference between the builder getting the job or not getting the job. So it comes down to planning, and to managing clients’ expectations.

The continuously evolving and changing nature of the construction site can make it very tempting for pedestrians to take short cuts or for drivers to cut corners.

Safety culture

Forklift truck operators are expected to undergo training and to demonstrate their competence. It is then the responsibility of the site manager to ensure they are performing in an appropriate manner and to promote an environment where operators are able to suggest improvements or report problems without penalty. They, after all, are at the sharp end and are most likely to spot a hazard or problem before anyone else.

At Skanska, there is what Wing describes as a behavioural safety programme which instils a culture of care and concern for everybody, and encourages people to speak up about issues and stop work if need be. “Health and safety“, he said, “is everyone’s responsibility, and this applies to anyone working on our projects.“

The tools

To operate safely, the forklift driver has to have good all-round vision, particularly when reversing or manoeuvring in tight areas. An array of mirrors and a rear-mounted CCTV camera can be helpful, but the industry has developed the use of banksmen to direct the driver and provide an extra level of safety while heavy vehicles are being loaded, manoeuvred and unloaded.

Another challenge is how to communicate with the driver, particularly across a large site that spans many acres. Many companies have prohibited the use of mobile phones by plant operators, and the reasoning is not hard to see.

“The last thing you want“, Haxell said, “is something beeping or flashing and distracting the operator as he’s placing a load high up on the scaffold, and he’s having to observe hand signals from the banksman.“ Many companies have chosen different technologies to solve this issue, but the technology then has to be supported by management so the drivers are not unintentionally encouraged to bend the rules.

Overcoming the unique safety hazards in the construction industry is a matter of thorough planning, continuous monitoring of site conditions and progress, and listening to those working in the field. With these elements of best practice in place, the industry can continue to improve its safety performance and the efficiency of its materials handling operation.

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