Can the construction sector take health and safety responsibility for logistics beyond the site boundary?

After his speaking role at ICE Health & Safety in May, Alex Lubbock of Carillion shares his thoughts on who should be responsible for maintaining safety beyond boundaries of construction sites

“in 2014 HGVs were involved in 25% of pedestrian and 38% of cyclist deaths in London”
“in 2014 HGVs were involved in 25% of pedestrian and 38% of cyclist deaths in London”
  • Updated: 28 June, 2016
  • Author: Alex Lubbock – BIM Development Manager, Carillion

During May I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the ICE Health & Safety conference in relation to BIM and the impact technology can have on health, safety and wellbeing. One of the points I put forward regarding BIM and technology was to enhance the work we are already delivering to plan for safety beyond the boundary of the site with our supply chain.

There are many great initiatives the industry is engaged in such as CLOCS (Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety) of which several of the other speakers on the day, particularly Kate Cairns, spoke passionately about. I was personally unaware of the statistics in 2014 demonstrating that although HGVs represented only 4% of the miles driven in London they were involved in 25% of pedestrian and 38% of cyclist deaths.

In my head I was comparing the status quo of construction site boundaries with modern day football. Following the Hillsborough tragedy and all that has unfolded since, safety at UK football grounds has been nearly exemplary, but football clubs and other sports clubs with stadia do not take legal responsibility for the safety of fans beyond the gates of the ground. This becomes a public realm issue and a matter for the emergency services and local authorities to deal with, despite the reputational risk this carries to the clubs and the game.

So does that mean death or injury caused by vehicles heading to and from construction sites is a matter for others outside of the contract to deal with?

Where are things now?

Contractually, current procurement and insurance methodology would arguably not enable the industry to take legal responsibility for itself whether it wished to or not. Could this be possible under an Integrated Project Delivery Model, including an integrated project insurance? Where would the role of the Principle Designer and Contractor stop in this instance? What could they actually control to demonstrate they had delivered all that was reasonably practicable?

Many companies, Carillion included, who have signed up to the Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety Standard are putting tremendous efforts into ensuring that planning of everything from routes, to timing, types of vehicles, training of drivers etc. is planned with the same level of detail that we would plan on site activities. This can and does extend to investigation of 'off site' traffic incidents.

Will technology change things?

There is an argument that technology advancements have changed the landscape again and that a safe system of work outside of the site could utilise technology and open source data points alongside project related methodology to simulate and plan ahead. Strict adherence to defined routes could be tracked through GPS and message inputs to guide behavioural change of the HGV drivers could be put into place. Health and wellbeing statistics of drivers could be measured and recorded like the number of hours behind the wheel and interventions put in place to support the physical and mental attributes of the drivers. The development in sensor technology and the adaptations being made to vehicles combined with the potential for driverless vehicles creates a new opportunity to enhance safety approaches for what we control.

Could the capital expenditure to develop the changes required to vehicles could be prohibitive for companies and self-employed drivers? Will this make it difficult to establish consistency?

So is it a reputational risk or opportunity for change rather than an enforceable one? Arguably there is nothing to baseline this against currently, so we need to identify what the scale of the issue is, and look at a plan for enhancing this aspect of our delivery as an industry enabled by technology. What we can be sure of though, is this runs deep into our supply chains and every site requires this so we need one message, one strategy and One Road to Safety.

About the Author

Alex heads up the development and change management programme for Building Information Modelling across the Carillion UK business. Currently responsible for implementation of BIM in Carillion across the full spectrum of the businesses capability including finance, design, build, own, operate/maintain and transfer activities. Alex has been a construction professional for 9 years coming from a project management / commercial background, working in pre-contract and operational phases at both main and sub-contractor levels.

Related Content

ICE Briefing Sheet – Construction logistics and cycle safety

Transport for London briefing on new safer HGV cabs

Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLOCS)