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Importance of Construction Site Safety

Read through the following case study and complete task 1 and task 2.

On a Thursday afternoon, a free standing brick wall collapsed on a construction site and fatally crushed injuries two men, Whelan and Twomey, who were performing excavation and filling work on the site adjacent to the brick wall. They were employed by a labour hire company which had supplied their labour to Byrne Civil Engineering Constructions Pty Ltd (BCEC) for it to perform excavation work under a sub-contract to Consolidated Constructions Pty Ltd (CC).

Develco Project was the developer of an office/factory complex at the subject site and it made a contract with CC as the principal builder to construct the complex. CC contracted BCEC to dig strip footings, excavate pads and trim existing footings for retaining walls at the site.  Develco engaged engineering consultants, van der Meer Bonser Pty Ltd, to undertake structural design and documentation for buildings and earthworks.

Whelan was a 25 year old graduate civil engineer with approx. 12 months field experience.  Twomey was a 20 year old labourer with approx 12 mths experience in civil construction.  At 3pm on 15 December the foundations supporting a 4.1 metre high free-standing brick wall located on the boundary at the south west corner of the site collapsed onto them.

Van der Meer Bonser did not undertake a site survey or visual inspection of the site prior to commencing the design work as it relied upon a geotechnical report and survey earlier carried out by others, and its contract was for design only.

Several months before the wall collapse BCEC commenced earthworks under the supervision of CC’s site engineer, Taylor, who was responsible for checking the reduced levels of the bulk earthworks to the buildings.  Taylor was a 24 year old graduate engineer with no previous experience in excavation work.  3 weeks before the collapse CC commenced building works. Bonser attended the site and examined existing footings encroached on the north western boundary of the site.  CC instructed BCEC to carry out detailed footing excavations along the northern and western boundaries.  This entailed the removal of sub-soil foundations to approx. 600 to 1000mm below the top of the existing footing.

On the day of the collapse the CC site manager instructed BCEC to commence detailed excavations in the south west corner of the site.  Those excavations included work on a footing for a reinforced masonry retaining wall in the vicinity of the brick wall.  Whelan and Twomey worked with a third man who was excavating using BCEC’s 21 tonne Hyundai excavator.  Approx 300mm of soil was removed along the south western boundary but in the area adjacent to the brick wall only approx 150 mm was removed.  During the process sewerage lines were hit causing some seepage. The excavations commenced at 1pm and the collapse occurred at approx. 3pm.  Prior to the collapse the excavator operator had last observed Whelan standing at the base of the wall and Twomey digging at the toe of its footing with a shovel.

Q1.1. Describe which entities had the greatest ability to manage and control the specific situation and why this was the case.

Q1.2. Which three corporate entity/s and would you most likely prosecute and in what order of responsibility would you rank them?   In your answer link the defendants and the Sections of the Victorian OHS Act 2004 under which you would prosecute them.

Q1.3. State your reason for using those Sections mentioned in Q2.  There may be multiple Sections and/or multiple defendants.  

Marks will be awarded only for correctly identified defendant/s and section/s – not for the volume of defendants.  The explanation for the choice of defendant/s and Section/s will assist in assessing your reason for the prosecution/s and understanding of the OHS Act.

Q2.1 Describe, the specific actions that Consolidated Constructions (CC), as the Principal Contractors, would need to undertake to satisfy the requirements of the Victorian OHS Regulations (Construction) 2007, and the broader requirements of the Victorian OHS Act 2004.  

Q2.2. Describe the practical and preventative actions needed to ensure this type of incident can never occur again.

Q2.3. Describe who will need to manage and control each of these corrective actions to ensure they are achieved, and what that management and control process would look like, including the evaluation of its successful implementation.

Importance of Construction Site Safety

Safety at work place and especially on construction sites is a key parameter. Different parties at the construction site have different responsibilities on the safety and each party is usually expected to abide to their roles. OHS Act 2004 is able to define the different roles of the different parties on construction in relation to enhancing the safety measures. These definitions are able to help in accountability for the stakeholders in enhancing the safety on site. Moreover, each section of the construction activity has its own laws which are able to relate to the specific tasks being performed. Each stakeholder is expected to play their part to ensure that the employees and workers on site are safe. On time of incidents and accidents, the different parties are held accountable if they did not meet the specific requirements of safety measures according to the laws. With the consideration of the responsibilities and laws, the different entities can be persecuted according to the law. This ensures that the OHS rules are followed to the later and safety on site is adhered to. The most important aspect of these laws is enhancing the safety measures of the workers. This paper will analyse the case study of safety hazards, which involved several employees when on duty. It will analyse the different OHS laws, which were not adhered to, and the different entities who were responsible for maintaining their safety.

1. One of the key entity who had a great responsibility in controlling the situation is the

Van der Meer Bonser. As part of the contracted consultant to the project, the entity had the responsibility of advising the Consolidated Constructions Pty Ltd (CC) on the safety measures of the work on site. First, it had to be noted that Van der Meet Bonser did not carry the required survey and analysis of the situation to ensure the levels of excavations. This had could help by offering their consultation on the situation and offer any key information regarding the site and level of excavations. Moreover, Van Dee Meet Bonser had the key responsibility of advising on the available amenities which could be found on site through their survey. This survey could have been able to find the available sewerage pipes and advice on the handling of the excavation and therefore able to avoid the damage and leakage which promoted the situation.

In addition, as part of the team on site, Consolidated Constructions Pty Ltd (CC) had the responsibility of controlling the site. Site CC had their engineer on site; they could advice on the situation on the ground and when to stop the excavation works. According to the laws, the people on the ground will be able to understand the soil conditions and therefore be able to advice accordingly on what next. Six the sewage damage on the site pipes were able to worsen the conditions, the CC had the responsibility to enhance the control of the incident. Through their site engineer Taylor, CC should have known about the site situation and the wall situation. Through this analysis, the engineer would have instructed the stoppage of the excavation activity due to the site condition. In addition, through the site manager, CC had the ability to ensure that the collapse of the wall did not happen. According to the OHS 2004 laws, the site manager could have analysed the safety measure of the wall and offered the relevant recommendations on the action to be taken.

Entity Responsibilities as per OHS Act 2004

2. One of the key entity which I would held responsible and prosecute on this situation is the Van der Meer Bonser. I would persecute them under section 27 to 31 and under section 32. Failing to carry the relevant survey of the ground conditions was the major reason which led to the failing of the walk stability. The soil conditions are prone to changes and therefore the reliance on the past survey was not a wise idea for Van der Meer Bonser to use. As the consultant, Van der Meer Bonser had the greatest responsibility of controlling the accident according to sections 27 to 31 of the OHS Act. They had the power of ordering the stoppage of excavations and also offering the levels which were appropriate for excavation. The failure to carry out the survey would have led to the collapse of the walk and therefore I can use this argument to be able to prosecute them. In this case, I could also use the section 32 to persecute Van der Meer Bonser with negligence on the dangers which may arise on site.

In addition, the second entity whom I could prosecute in this case is the CC which I would do under section 21 for failing to provide health security on site. As the main parties carrying out the works, they had the better understanding of the site and they could be able to advice on the unsafe working environment. I would prosecute CC with ignorance of the dangers, which are available on site and continuing to work unsafely. As the employer, according to section 21, CC had the responsibility of ensuring that the workers were safe. In addition, I could be able to prosecute them with hiring of unqualified personnel to be in charge of the works. Since Taylor, their site engineer did not the experience on the type of works he was in charge of, he could not recommend on the situation. This helps them to carry the blame on the situation which led to the accident. In addition, I would use the section 21(2) to prosecute CC as well for failing to analyse the situation.

The CC site manager for the CC is another entity whom I will prosecute in this case under section 26 of OHS Act duties. As the overall overseer of the site, the manager had to be aware of the situation on site and be able to advice on the relevant actions. He could have been able to analyse the situation well before recommending on the further excavation works which were carried out. Moreover, the site manager had the responsibility to visiting the works and being aware of the challenges and conditions of the site since proper survey had not been carried out.  On failing to advice accordingly, he was unable to honour the OHS code of conduct for the professional and therefore liable to prosecution.

3.

Section 21 offers that the employer has the key responsibility of ensuring that the workers are on a safer working condition. This meant that CC had the responsibility of analysing the situation since they were being in charge of the site. They had the responsibility through their site engineer to analyse the condition of the work and advice on the relevant action which needed to be taken to ensure safer working environment. Therefore, CC has to be held accountable on the accident since they did not take it seriously in controlling the situation and therefore sending the people to work on unhealthy condition. In addition, the section 21 (2) states that the employer must maintain a safer working environment for the employees which CC did not do.

Task One - Entity Responsibilities in the Case Study Incident

As the site manager and in accordance with the section 26 would be able to hold CC’s site manager accountable for this accident. He had the main responsibility to maintaining the safety of the site and ensuring that each employee working on site is on the safe area. With proper analysis, the site manager would have recommended the stoppage of the excavation works due to unsafe working condition for the employees on site.

For the case of Van der Meer Bonser, as the consultant and designer, they had the responsibility of caring for the employees who will be send on site. They seemed not to care when they chose to fail to carry any survey on the site. This meant that they were able to come up with great assumptions on the ground condition. This means that they can be also be persecuted through the section 32 of recklessly endangering the people on work. Their ignorance is key on this case of the dangers on site.

1. Consolidated Constructions (CC) as the main supervisor of the works had the main activity of ensuring that the manpower provided was able to understand the working conditions and works being carried out. First, the recruitment of an engineer who had the relevant experience on this field would be the first thing which CC would do. Since their site engineer, Taylor did not have the relevant experience on the situation, he was unable to advice accordingly on the situation and dangers involved. The Victorian OHS Act 2004 on section under section 144 states that the manger has the responsibility of ensuring that the working environment are safe for the employees. Without the understanding of the dangers, one would be unable to recommend which activity are safer or not. In addition, CC would have done a visual inspection of the site through their site manger before recommending on the further excavation of the site. According to the construction laws, one is required to be able to carry the safer acts which they are sure according to their knowledge site the site conditions are prone to changes. The site manager just relied on the information from Van der Meer Bonser and not the site conditions which was being experienced on the moment of the works. Moreover, the CC would not have done any work on the site without the analysis of the amenities which were underground. They could have gone to the records to find whether any amenities were present the way the sewage pipes were found. This could have prevented the damage of the pipes which led to the loosening of the soil and leading to the failure of the wall. This was a key step which CC failed to follow and which the construction rules are able to permit to ensure that the preservation of other propertied is done.

2. First, the visual analysis of the site would be a key necessary step which could have been used to prevent the accident on site. The look on the soil at the site would be key in ensuring that the excavation is carried in accordance with the soil stability. This means that the site manager and engineer had the responsibility of looking on the situation and behaviour is the soil at each moment and therefore ensuring that the working condition is safe. In addition, trial pits would have been a key necessary exercise which the CC and other parties would have engaged to ensure that they are aware of the soil conditions. The analysis of the situation would have been made sure that the parties are clear on the soil stability and the level, which the excavation can be carried out. This would be able to analyse the situation at the beginning and even help to determine the type of equipment, which will be used to maintain the required stability of the walls.

Task Two - Actions Required to Satisfy OHS Regulations and Laws

In addition, use of qualified personnel who have the relevant experience would be a key step in ensuring that such accidents do not happen on the latter date. The failure of the site engineer to recognize the available danger on the activity can be blamed for the accident on this situation. The engineer did not recognize the effect of the sewage on loosening the soil and therefore went on with further excavation and therefore leading to the accident. Moreover, another key step, which could be used to ensure that such accidents are prevented, is to ensure that the site survey is carried out properly. The soil conditions are prone to changes and the reliance on the past survey is not enough to state the condition of the site. Therefore with proper analysis, the situation would have been prevented and ensure that the working condition and levels are maintained. Lastly, the use of the previous development plans which has been done on the area would be key to ensure that the amenities on the site are protected. The damage on the sewage popes on the site would have been prevented if the excavation team had the knowledge on the pipes o the site. This would have prevented the loosening of the soils and therefor able to prevent the danger to some extent.  

3. The van der Meer Bonser Pty Ltd has the responsibility of carrying out the proper survey of the site. This would ensure that as the consultant on the project, they are able to advice on the relevant action and levels which the excavation can be carried out at each moment. The survey would be able to enhance the working condition by controlling the excavation levels at each moment on site. The party also would be able to enhance the relevant knowledge on the amenities which are on site and therefore able to advice the different parties working on site. Through the survey, the van der Meer Bonser Pty Ltd would be able to know the amenities wand development records, which have been carried out on site, and ensuring that the excavation is done at a careful procedure.

CC had the responsibility of ensuring that they have the proper personnel in charge of the works and the equipment used on the site. Through their analysis, they are required to employ the best equipped person who understand the works on site and able to control the key activities and the dangers which are involved. The CC did not get the person who could control the situation and therefore led to the accident. The accident could have been controlled since the engineer had the powers to control the excavation team. Moreover, it is clear that CC had the power to get the best machine which would not be able to affect the stability of the wall during the excavation works. This is a key area which CC did not consider well during this exercise and therefore led to the accident.

In addition, Develco Project would have instructed the different parties on the different activities which they are supposed to undertake and ensure that they meet the standards of their works. All these parties were on contract and therefore had a level which activities they were supposed to carry out. For instance Van der Meer Bonser had to carry out the survey and Develco could have instructed them to undertake such responsibilities as part of the developer.

Conclusion

Different parties have different responsibilities in ensuring that the safety at the sites is achieved. According to OHS Act 2004, the parties can be held reliable to failing to undertake their responsibilities under the different sections. On this case, Van der Meer Bonser, Consolidated Constructions Pty Ltd (CC) and CC site manager were able to violate different rules on this act and therefore they can be held accountable and be persecuted. These sections are able to enhance the safety of the workers and enhancing the construction activities at different sections and activities.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

My Assignment Help. (2021). Construction OHS Assessment: Case Study Analysis And Entity Responsibilities. Retrieved from https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/csm80007-construction-site-operations/consolidated-constructions-ltd.html.

"Construction OHS Assessment: Case Study Analysis And Entity Responsibilities." My Assignment Help, 2021, https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/csm80007-construction-site-operations/consolidated-constructions-ltd.html.

My Assignment Help (2021) Construction OHS Assessment: Case Study Analysis And Entity Responsibilities [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/csm80007-construction-site-operations/consolidated-constructions-ltd.html
[Accessed 24 July 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'Construction OHS Assessment: Case Study Analysis And Entity Responsibilities' (My Assignment Help, 2021) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/csm80007-construction-site-operations/consolidated-constructions-ltd.html> accessed 24 July 2024.

My Assignment Help. Construction OHS Assessment: Case Study Analysis And Entity Responsibilities [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2021 [cited 24 July 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/csm80007-construction-site-operations/consolidated-constructions-ltd.html.

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