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Communication of Safety In the Design Phase.

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COMMUNICATION OF SAFETY IN THE DESIGN PHASE J. MacKenzie, A.G.F. Gibb and N.M. Bouchlaghem Building and Civil Engineering Department, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU (all correspondence to j.mackenzie@lboro.ac.uk) Ineffective management practices, particularly in the design phase, have been identified as a prime cause of the unacceptable accident and occupational health record of the construction industry. The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations requires designers to identify, reduce and control risks to the workforce. However, for many designers the adoption of such practices is still unfamiliar and there is little information on procedures or best practices. Thus, to a large extent the application of such regulations is intuitive and relies on the attitude and behaviour of the designer and their ability to communicate the identified risks effectively. This paper outlines the methodological approach used to measure the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour and value judgements of the parties involved during the design phase. Keywords: Behaviour, Communication, Health, Safety, Design, Management. INTRODUCTION The requirement for increasingly complex projects, more exacting demands in terms of time, cost and quality, fluctuating industry workload and ever tighter fee scales have focused the need for effective communication and management of information during design. Numerous government and stakeholder-sponsored studies on the culture and operation of the UK construction industry have been conducted. These reports have acknowledged that communication and information flow during design have a major impact on the performance of construction projects. Back in 1962, Emmerson stated that "in building there is all to often a lack of confidence between architect and builder amounting at worst to distrust and mutual recrimination. Even at best, relations are affected by an aloofness which cannot make for efficiency, and the building owners suffer. In no other important industry is the responsibility for design so far removed from the responsibility for production". The Banwell Report (1964) found that "insufficient regard is paid to the importance or value of time and its proper use in all aspects of a project, from the client's original decision to build, through the design stages and up to final completion. ...read more.


However, before safety information is implemented, designers must be willing to use it. Gambatese (1998) argues that by incorporating safety knowledge, a designer's exposure to liability increases, which may deter the designer from implementing knowledge. "Traditionally in the United States, unless specifically written into a contract, a designer is not responsible for overseeing construction worker safety." (Gambatese, 1998). Blockley (1999) further addresses the ethics of engineering safely. The early stages of design are particularly important. In complex decision making situations the ability to affect project outcomes diminishes exponentially over time. Brandon (1978) suggests that, by the time sketch design is formulated, the major decisions affecting management costs, structure, envelope and quality standards have been made and the ability to influence remaining decisions is probably limited to twenty percent of the final cost. It is highly probable that this is also true of safety. If we accept that safety, like quality, can not be 'inspected' into a project and that 'bolt on' safety measures are seen as a reaction to potential hazards then surely safety must be implemented in early design. However, this is not merely an oversight, information is traditionally scarce during the early stages of design, in some cases, information is simply not available. ANTECEDENTS TO THE RESEARCH The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (CDM) were introduced in March 1995 as the UK's response to EC Directive 92/57/EEC, in an attempt to address the absence of safety management during the pre construction phases. As a result, regulations that legislate to ensure health and safety is co-ordinated and managed effectively throughout a project's life cycle have been enforced for the last four years. However, for many designers, the adoption of such practices is still unfamiliar and there is little information on procedures or best practices. A recent report entitled "Experiences of CDM" (CIRIA 1997), found that many designers are unsure of their duties and the extent of risk assessment required and that as a result, the practices of designers are affected by their lack of familiarity with the requirements. ...read more.


The study will adopt the "Process Protocol" (Time Research Institute, 1998) as the framework within which to carry out the enquiry. The Process Protocol is a development of the RIBA Plan of Work, which is more able to adapt to newer forms of procurement. 4. Discuss the data in relation to the initial research questions and the hypothesis / propositions The case study data and ethnographic enquiry will be analysed using a qualitative software package e.g. NUD*IST or NVivo. The data generated by the case studies will enable the communication patterns to be realised and the forces that create those patterns. The survey data will be analysed using a statistical software package i.e. SPSS or Statgraphics. It is envisaged the data generated will indicate: the importance attributed to health and safety in design; the timing of its inclusion in the design phase and the type and level of risk analysis carried out. Any unanswered propositions will be opinioned and all conclusions will be drawn from the research study. CONCLUSIONS There has been much literature published in relation to health and safety in the construction industry. More recently, attention has been focused on the design phase, where early implementation has been premised to result in positive, proactive results. Surveys carried out in relation to the CDM Regulations suggest that while legislation has increased safety awareness and will in time have a beneficial effect, many especially those in small and medium enterprises are sceptical on the cost/benefit results. Overall the application of safety in design is not considered to be of paramount importance compared to other performance criteria e.g. specification, suitability of purpose and completion time. These studies clearly indicate that insufficient time is dedicated to the implementation of safety procedures during the design phase. This paper concludes that there is much need for improvement. Designers need more information about the projects' potential hazards at a time when information is traditionally scarce. The ability to effectively communicate design intentions is critical for safe construction and maintenance operations. Research into the communication of safety during design is therefore crucial for future improvements. ...read more.

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