The Case for Steel: Safety

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The case for steel The safety constructional steel is inherently safer than otherDesigners putting safety first need to considerwhether a project can be safely executed, and since solution teams at steelwork contractors will share theirSteel is safer for a wide range of reasons.framing materials steel is increasingly the solutionof choice.Starting with the design process, in-house design special knowledge of steel structures by working with structural engineers and architects to develop steel framed solutions that enhance a project’s In the second part of our Case for Steel series Nick Barrett safety case. Steelwork is an off-site manufactured, pre- explains why steel construction is the safety solution. engineered quality assured product that arrives on site when it is needed, ready for erection. Inherently easy site erection is one reason why steel Pre-planning of on-site operations is much easier construction sites are safer places to work. with steel. The accuracy of the fabricated product delivered to site means that errors that could Steel components can generate site hazards are be pre-assembled or minimised. fabricated into modules This accuracy is achieved by the either off-site or at low widespread use level, which reduces software drivenof sophisticated many potential hazards. computer numerically controlled fabrication equipment. 3D models of steel frames are routinely created, helping with detailed planning of erection procedures. Planning is further aided when unorthodox or complex fabrications are involved by trial erections before delivering to site. Risk can be removed from site activity by this process. The accuracy of modern steelwork makes possible high levels of productivity on site, without the sort of undue rush that can give rise to unsafe behaviour. The shorter and more predictable construction programme advantages of using steel in fact take pressure off other site activities, helping them to be executed more safely as well. The accuracy of steel has almost totally eliminated the need for re-work, and means fewer erectors are needed on site. Far less temporary works is needed than with other framing systems. Weather causes relatively few problems for steelwork as much of the work has already been carried out in the dry conditions of the fabricators’ The accuracy of steel means fewer workshop. Steel components can be pre-assembled erectors are needed on-site. or fabricated into modules either off-site or at low level, which reduces many potential hazards. Steel construction – the qualified industry Steel construction is carried out by specialist site erection teams who hold recognised qualifications under several safety related schemes: • An accredited qualification, Constructional Steelwork NVQ level 2, is available to steel erectors, metal deck installers and studwelders. • The Register of Qualified Steelwork Contractors (RQSC) classifies all participating firms according to the type of work they are competent to undertake and the size of contract that they can resource and manage. • The Safe Site Handover Certificate identifies key site conditions to be checked before erection starts in order to minimise site risks. • The UKAS accredited Steel Construction Certification Scheme offers a Health and Safety Certification service, which is an audit certification to OHSAS 18001 specifically designed for steel construction. • The Safety in Steel Construction service provides the ‘competent person’ requirement of the management of Health and Safety Regulations, as well as a helpline and inspection services. 20 NSC March 2008


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