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How we’re advancing safety through development and design

4/29/2016 4:42 PM CET
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Before Skanska begins constructing any projects, we thoroughly review the safety risks for those on and around the sites. Projects for which Skanska has the added responsibility of design and/or development provide greater opportunities to integrate safety into the delivery process – even enabling us to care for the lives of those who will eventually use or maintain the facilities. 

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1 / 4 The Skanska joint venture’s design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance roles for London’s M25 Motorway public-private partnership (PPP) project provided us with greater opportunities to eliminate potential safety risks.
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2 / 4 The BoKlok housing system developed by Skanska and Ikea is based on modular units assembled indoors for improved safety, efficiency and quality.
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3 / 4 Potential hazards are clearly marked on these drawings from a Skanska Commercial Development Europe project.
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4 / 4 Through Skanska’s design-build role on the Expo light-rail line phase two in Los Angeles, U.S., we adjusted the design of project elements – including this bridge – to enhance safety for the public and project crews.

Through such early involvements with projects, we can maximize our efforts to eliminate potential safety risks. Removing safety risks through design and planning is better than trying to mitigate them later, such as through additional protective gear and equipment.

For example, we can often adjust designs to make them more accommodating to off-site fabrication: This improves safety as it shifts work traditionally done on site – in all weather conditions and often at heights – to controlled factory environments, with conditions more like an assembly line. Improved productivity typically results too.

In another instance, we can ensure that if a building is to have a high-ceiling glass atrium that proper provisions are made during the design phase for cleaning the glass and servicing the overhead lights. That might mean having doorways wide enough to accommodate mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs).

“For every element of the design, we focus on making things safer for workers on the site, and keeping the cost within budget and staying on schedule,” says Mike Mifsud, Skanska USA vice president.

Increased safety through modular system

The BoKlok modular housing system developed by Skanska and Ikea exemplifies how we strive to integrate safety in every phase of projects. With this, we fully assemble modules – complete with exterior cladding and interior finishes – in manufacturing facilities: 80 percent of production hours are done in such safe environments. These modules form the 2- to 4-story BoKlok structures.

Then the modules are taken to sites and lifted into position to create the multi-unit BoKlok buildings. Because BoKlok uses standard types of modules, for each project crews follow a nearly identical construction process, which helps reduce the potential for safety incidents. (Click here for a video of the BoKlok process.)

Transparent culture supports continuous improvement

Supporting this approach is a BoKlok culture that openly shares information about accidents, near misses and important safety observations, and that emphasizes visual communication to help workers understand about safety risks.

“We aim to learn from our mistakes, so we can constantly improve,” says Tommy Dahlgren, BoKlok safety champion. “It’s a process that never stops.”

Driving safety as an owner

On more varied types of building and infrastructure projects that Skanska develops, we leverage the customer-like role of our development units to help drive improved construction safety.

“An appropriate analogy is the oil and gas industry, which has a very good safety record because of an intense focus on safety driven by the oil companies,” says Julian Desai, Skanska Infrastructure Development health and safety director.

Selecting partners based on safety criteria

Actions by Skanska Infrastructure Development and our Commercial Development units include selecting investors, designers and other project partners based on safety and other sustainability criteria; advocating standards that raise the bar on construction safety; and reviewing designs for safety hazards. For instance, Skanska Commercial Development Europe has its outside architectural and engineering partners mark designs with symbols marking potential risks – including those for falls and electrical shocks – through a design risk assessment process.

“What we develop has to be safe to build, safe to use and safe to maintain,” says Steve Iddon, Skanska Commercial Development Europe director of environment, health and safety.

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