Not too long ago a friend sent me a bunch of photographs of the Empire State Building taken while the building was being erected. Each picture came with appropriate caption talking about safety at work, more specifically at the construction site. Skimming and scanning the email over and over again convinced me once more how paramount safety is – not only in construction but in all fields of work. Disregarding safety guidelines at work (if there is any) will surely result to a loss of precious lives.
Here is a classic proof: Here in the Philippines where safety is not of primary concern by most contractors, at least 10 construction workers died at the construction site of a residential condominium in Makati City when the cables of the improvised elevator they were using snapped last January 27, 2011, causing the gondola to collapsed mid-air. Accidents like this are common in the Philippines for lack of stringent safety regulations and implementation. Construction workers are also to blame for often violating safety regulations despite the warnings from their supervisors. Later, an investigation found the cause of the accident as overloading. The ill-fated elevator is only good for 3 persons; but during the time of the accident, a total of 11 persons were inside the gondola. The investigation also found some violations such as: lack of permit to operate the elevator and lack of safety devices. In addition, the 11 workers were found not wearing helmets and harnesses as mandated by safety regulations.
When I started working as structural designer (specializing in connection design) in an American company, I learned that their concern for safety extends beyond construction: it applies to both engineering and design. In the design of connection, for example, the outcome of the design is dictated not by strength requirements alone but also by safety requirements. Safety dictates provisions for the minimum requirements in the design of connections and other structures. Provisions for a ‘safety construction’ is already incorporated and long been decided during the engineering and design stage of the structure. All these are provided for and mandated by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.