204192 Lifecycle Building: Designing for Safe Constructability

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:30 AM

Walter Jones, MS , Associate Director of Occupational Safety and Health, Laborers Health and Safety Fund of North America, Washington, DC
Designing for Construction Safety is the process of addressing construction site safety and maintenance in the design phase of a project. The customary role of the design professional is protect the safety of the public and to comply with building codes. Designing for Construction Safety extends this role to include construction site safety.

All designers agree their decisions affect the environment, cost, quality and duration of a construction project. Shouldn't designers also recognize that their design decisions affect the inherent risk to the workers constructing the project? There is a principle in quality management that quality must be "designed in." This principle also applies to safety: Safety must be designed into a project and hazards "designed out." For example, designing built in anchorage systems and higher parapet walls.

The injury and fatality rates in construction are so high that all parties - owners, design professionals, contractors, and material vendors - must proactively attempt to reduce injuries to the extent that is feasible for them.

Although typical contract terms clearly state that designers are not responsible for the safety of construction workers, nearly all designers would feel an ethical obligation to take action to prevent a serious injury to a construction worker if the hazard was imminent and obvious to the designer. Shouldn't designers feel a similar ethical obligation to take reasonable actions to prevent injuries that are not as imminent or obvious?

Designing for construction safety is a natural fit with the environmental sustainability movement and lifecycle building.

Learning Objectives:
Describe what designing for safe constructability means. Explain why DFS is needed. Demonstrate how DFS is a natural fit with sustainability, lifecycle building approaches and the LEED system.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Occupational Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a OSH professional who has been working on DFS for about four years and sit on the OSHA DFS work group and the NIOSH PtD task force.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.