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.