Whitepaper: 06.15.2015

Being Safety Conscious 24/7

Tips for Reducing Safety Risks in Operating Facilities
by Billy Naylor, McCarthy Safety Director

Whether delivering a one-of-a-kind entertainment venue or simply providing a facelift to a local resort or hospital, your contractor’s number one focus should always be to create value through a safe environment. This is especially true when working in a market like Las Vegas that provide 24/7 operations to customers.

In the last few years, there has been a significant trend toward project renovations, providing owners the opportunity to assess structures and systems during preplanning. However, projects requiring the facility to stay operational during construction require additional steps to provide a safe environment. The following are five top considerations to ensure the health and safety of the building occupants.

Separating Work Zones
On a ground-up project, every person who steps foot on-site should be required to go through a safety orientation. This provides an opportunity for the contractor to educate all on the potential site hazards. Renovation projects, however, can expose the general public to conditions that are often hidden behind temporary partition walls, creating inherent hidden risks. While loud noises and moving equipment can often be a deterrent for the public and encourage them to stay away, risks that may not be so apparent must also be considered. An oversight as seemingly insignificant as an unlocked door or a sign that’s fallen down can result in serious harm. To be successful on a project with these risks, contractors must know the ins-and-outs of a facility and their scope, allowing them to develop and execute a plan that keeps the public out of work zones while still allowing movement throughout the building.

Provide Clear Ingress/Egress paths
The decision to keep a facility operational is one that is centered on continuing to serve your customers or other building users. While “Pardon our Dust” signs are a short-term hindrance for the end result, customers want to feel comfortable maneuvering around the building. To allow this to occur, ingress and egress paths must be developed with the input of facilities’ and operations’ personnel for each phase of work. Routes should be identified, clearly marked and communicated to minimize confusion and keep patrons moving safely.  

Working Off-Hours
Working during off-hours provides your construction team the best opportunity to eliminate risk of injury to the public. Many different facility types operate around the clock; however, each of these businesses also has downtime where they are minimally occupied. Through preplanning, contractors can identify high-risk activities and noisy or complex trades that should be scheduled during these slower periods providing a more controlled environment as well as the opportunity to clean up before the area becomes congested.

Deliveries and Storage of Materials
Construction materials need to be closely monitored and planned as "on time" to keep the risk of vandalism down as well as minimize delivery trucks moving through and around public parking lots. Using back-of-house locations such as loading docks, if available, will give you the best course for success as these utilize frequently traveled and known delivery paths. Keeping stored materials in public areas creates unnecessary hazards and must be avoided. Again, utilizing loading dock compounds is the best-case scenario when the public is occupying the perimeter lots.

Plan Around Existing Utilities
In most active buildings, there are certain existing utilities that must remain on or live. On a typical, new construction site, a contractor would turn off or isolate the existing utilities to prevent unsafe conditions; however, this is not possible while renovating a building in operation. In this instance, preplanning is once again the key to locating and understanding how to work around all existing utilities. The last thing anyone wants is an unplanned release of water or power. By utilizing technologies such as Ground Penetration Radar and Laser Scanning, existing systems can be identified, allowing the team to better understand the conditions they are working in. This is followed up by once again preplanning and executing scopes such as utility excavation and coordination to ensure the safety of the entire building.

While accidents by definition are unplanned, taking into consideration these five tips will allow you to be more proactive in ensuring your next project is a safe one. Take advantage of preplanning, ask your construction team what safety precautions they are taking and send everyone home safe every night.

About the Author
Billy Naylor is Safety Director for the Nevada Division of McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. In this role, he oversees health and environmental safety on McCarthy projects in the region. With nearly two decades of experience in construction, Naylor is a Certified Occupational Safety Specialist and an active member of the AGC Las Vegas Safety Committee. He can be reached at wnaylor@mccarthy.com.

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